Even in as passive a format as an audiobook, this one is difficult to take. Weber's rapidly expanding list of characters waste your time in an endless series of meetings and discussions, during which they often take breaks for personal reflections. In previous novels Weber would liberally intercut similar scenes with action, often featuring his protagonist Merlin/Nimue (who incidentally, is re-introduced to us again in the fourth volume, at length).
This time around, we mostly just get the talking, much of which attempts to gracefully boost Weber's own political and religious views. For those fans who weren't aware, he's a fiscal conservative, a strong 2nd amendment supporter (and I'm generally on board with him, there) as well as a lay minister in a more liberal Protestant denomination. In the last of these he lays out the common plea of liberal religionists, that both skepticism of religious belief and fierce adherence to dogma are both destructive of human happiness in their suspension of the mystery of spirituality. Just so happens that no character engages the former cause and only the bad guys engage the latter. Subtle, huh?
But even that would have been forgivable if the action of the book didn't plod along at such a glacial pace. Readers familiar with the series may recall the first novel, filled with battles, assassination attempts, tragic deaths and self-sacrifice--that's in short supply here, and it's why I won't return to Safehold. I'm sad that it had to be this way.
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