If you haven’t read the SafeHold series from the beginning, you’re not going to understand much of what’s going on now. This is book 8 and each book is jammed packed with more details than a thousand books could hold. I kid you not. That’s the whole thing about this series; it’s so detailed that you can get lost or just plain tired of reading about the minutia going on throughout the world of SafeHold.
SafeHold happens to be a planet of refuge for the former Terran civilization. They fled when an alien species called the Ghbaba found Earth by detecting its sophisticated electronic emissions. The Gaba promptly set about destroying Terra and all its citizens. Fortunately, a colony ship was able to evade the Gabas and found the planet SafeHold. While most of the colonists were in cryosleep, the ship’s crew sets about creating a world that would advance without technology. They established a new religion and called it the Church of God Awaiting with several members of the starship crew identified as “Archangels”. They wrote an elaborate “Writ” which contained the books detailing what rules each Archangel expected the people of SafeHold to follow. Some were very strict, extremely strict and were not liked by several other Archangels.
Anyway, all the colonist awakened on the same day with only implanted memories of what their past lives were supposed to have been. These people were living in an age of deeply held religious convictions and ruled by Kings and Queens. Trading was done by horse, wagon and sailing ships. So, it was a very primitive civilization and it was intended to stay that way. It was also supposed to be a peaceful civilization where men lived without fear of other men and certainly without fear of the Church of God Awaiting.
Unfortunately, over the many hundreds of years, the Church of God Awaiting had become corrupt. It’s principal Vicars were four in number and they were becoming very ruthless, unscrupulous, and immoral men. They wanted to rule SafeHold with an iron fist not according to God’s Law, but according to theirs. Fortunately, there was something of the old starship and the old civilization that was now stirring to life in the form of an Android named Merlin Athrawes.
In this book, a few more people are admitted into the Charisian/Merlin’s inner circle to know the truth of their civilization, the war in Siddamark is going well during the winter with Carson Ironsides is tearing up the Army of God (AOG) along the canals. Then the Charisians and their allies lose the Battle at Kudzu Narrows including two very valuable Ironsides along with about four-hundred Charisian seamen. The last time Charisian seamen were made prisoners of the Church, they were publicly tortured and killed as heretics which they were not. Now even the Church’s own Admirals are fearing for their own families safety not from the Charisians, but from their own Church of God Awaiting!
So, you have to read this series from the start to find out how Merlin Athrawes sets this entire civilization back on the right course. It is an exciting adventure. It is a science fiction novel and one of the best I have ever read. Still, it has sailing ships and armies using crossbows and swords as fighting weapons. There are so many characters that I do not understand how the author keeps everything straight. Additionally, something significant happens in every one of these books. I cannot wait for the next book, but I know that it will not be available for probably two years. I’ll unhappily wait!