By Heresies Distressed
Tor, Jul 2009, $27.95
For eight centuries plus on Safehold, the Church of God Awaiting has brutally censored technology. However, recently cybernetic avatar Merlin Athrawes as part of his job to protect the king of Charis introduced technological advances that enabled the island kingdom to accomplish the impossible, defeat the Church.
However, the Church has not run the world with an iron fist for eight hundred years without adapting. Its operatives steal the enemies weapons to mass produce them, encourage quislings to assassinate the adversary’s leadership, and buy mercenaries to massacre rebels and civilians alike. The Kingdom of Charis may find its new freedom not long lasting as the Church of God Awaiting begins a concerted counter insurgency.
The sequel to BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER, BY HERESIES DISTRESSED is a fantastic science fiction political thriller. The Church demonstrates why it has succeeded for eight centuries with its stealing of the enemy’s war technology as well as the usual stirring up the masses with a minor social issue (straight out of the Republican Party playbook) and supplement that with assassins and terrorists (straight out of the Taliban play book to bring hell on earth). The monarchy and their allies cannot agree on anything except their opposition to the Church (straight out of the Democratic Party’s humongous tent strategy that invites all to join to get elected but fail to agree on solutions). The cast is solid though with the exception of Merlin and to a lesser degree the King of Charis none stand out; this especially enhances the saga as part of the Church’s long term strategy is facelessness except for God as much as possible. David Weber is at his best with this strong profound and relevant look at political plotting.