The Charisian Empire, born in war, has always known it must fight for its very survival. What most of its subjects don’t know even now, however, is how much more it’s fighting for. Emperor Cayleb, Empress Sharleyan, Merlin Athrawes, and their innermost circle of most trusted advisers do know. And because they do, they know the penalty if they lose will be far worse than their own deaths and the destruction of all they know and love.
For five years, Charis has survived all the Church of God Awaiting and the corrupt men who control it have thrown at the island empire. The price has been high and paid in blood. Despite its chain of hard-fought naval victories, Charis is still on the defensive. It can hold its own at sea, but if it is to survive, it must defeat the Church upon its own ground. Yet how does it invade the mainland and take the war to a foe whose population outnumbers its own 15 to one? How does it prevent that massive opponent from rebuilding its fleets and attacking yet again?
Charis has no answer to those questions, but needs to find one… quickly. The Inquisition’s brutal torture and hideous executions are claiming more and more innocent lives. Its agents are fomenting rebellion against the only mainland realms sympathetic to Charis. Religious terrorists have been dispatched to wreak havoc against the Empire’s subjects. Assassins stalk the Emperor and Empress, their allies and advisers, and an innocent young boy, not yet 11 years old, whose father has already been murdered. And Merlin Athrawes, the cybernetic avatar of a young woman a thousand years dead, has finally learned what sleeps beneath the far-off Temple in the Church of God Awaiting’s city of Zion.
The men and women fighting for human freedom and tolerance have built a foundation for their struggle in the Empire of Charis with their own blood, but will that foundation be firm enough to survive?
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©2011 David Weber (P)2011 Macmillan Audio
I am so very disappointed with Mr. Keating's reading that I am probably going to discontinue listening and spend an additional 15 bucks for a copy from Amazon.
Mr. Keating's name and place pronunciations really annoy me after having listened to the other 4 books in the series. Both Mr. Culp and Mr. Wyman give far superior performances. Mr. Keating may be a fine narrator (I???ve not heard any of his other performances) but he was absolutely the wrong choice to bring in at this time.
Book: How Firm a Foundation follows in Weber's tradition of detailed scenes and completeness of back-story. That makes for some very exhaustive descriptions, which can understandably cause some readers/listeners eyes to glaze over a bit. For myself, that richness of detail and insight to the thoughts and minds of the characters is a signature of Weber's writing; Safehold would not be the same without it. That being said, this is also a middle book in a series, and if realism demands a bit of 'hurry-up and wait', just as real life does, this book has more of the waiting.
Production: When I heard to first words of the book read, I was wary of the new narrator, for good reason. With every reintroduction of a character from the previous books I am wracking my brain for alternative pronunciations to make the connection. None of the blame is to be laid at Keating's feet however; it is the responsibility of the producer to check pronunciation for consistency and correctness, not the performer. The producer continues to fall down on the job as Keating varies his pronunciations of names and places throughout the performance. While I do enjoy listening to Keating read, I believe he would be more well received in this series as a co-narrator, as he does not impart a unique voice to each of the large cast of characters, nor does he do justice to the depth of emotions expressed by those characters.
Overall: I have enjoyed another tale of Safehold, but have been sorely disappointed in the production company: to change narrators, a second time; their choice of narrators for this production; the lack of attention to consistency throughout both the series and this installment.
The series and the book are great, but I'm going to have to give in Keating a 2 star rating for his performance - the previous narrators were MUCH better.
I love the Safehold series with the exception that they can't seem to keep a consistant narrator! This current narrator makes me feel like I'm going to fall asleep!
My expectations of the book have been meant, but the performance was not what I had grown accustom too. Thus the poor rating of the performance. This book, and the series has so many strengths that are easily magnified in a great performance by the narrators in the previous books. This one is not at the same level, thus making it more difficult to get through the book initially before the action started. In no way am I down playing the authors writing, the book is superb as usual, its just the performance that has upset me. The Narrator has a wonderful voice, but the lack of inflection changes, phrasing , and other things, I had grown use to and enjoyed, are not there. I think he does a great job with the elder characters, but there is no change of substance between any of the others at all.
1. Fifteen dollars for hardbound on Amazon. Fifteen dollars for Kindle. Two Credits or 36 dollars on Audible. Why? Is it twice as good?
2. Charles Keating is the narrator??? He's a great reader but has no concept of oral interpretation. No real attempt at accents to differentiate the multitude of characters. Why not Culp or better yet, Oliver Wyman again. I'm hooked on the series and bought it, besides, I've been keeping up with the snippets on DW's website but there is a sour taste about the whole thing.
I like this story, but I getting the feeling that its slowly grinding to a halt. Its mentioned in the book about 20 years are left before a big event. Well, reading this has me feeling 20 years will elapse before we get to a point. And what of the protagonist? Almost no Nimue / Merlin. I understand other character development is important but, where is the protagonists actions? Surely playing guard isn't the sum of a "superior" beings involvement.
As for the performance, Mr. Keating has proven he can read, I will give him that. But did he even listen to the other books in the series? I can live with the change in character accents, barely. But his name pronunciation SUCKS! Or more to the point, it doesn't even match the other books!
Please bring back Oliver Wyman! This narrator makes me feel like im sitting in an old study being read a dusty old book of english literature, not a contemporary science fiction military drama. Wyman had the characters down cold. this reading makes me drift off. While the story is still there the performance makes it feel utterly flat and uninteresting. Im sure this narrator is well suited to other stories, he has a great voice. But this is material for Wyman or someone similar.
Distracting narration really left me unable to continue. Also 2 credits is pretty gutsy after Out of the Dark which was horrible. David Weber has really been dropping in my estimation.
I have been an avid fan of this series, but I was extremely disappointed with the narration of this episode. I would gladly by another copy if they could get Oliver Wyman back. After almost a hundred hours of previous story, this narrator did not even have the courtesy to listen to the previous volumes and learn the proper pronunciation of the names of the characters or places. It continually brought me up short while listening trying to figure out which of the previous characters/places this mispronunciation referred to. Also, unlike Mr. Wyman, there appeared to be no effort at the type of "vocal acting" I have come to expect from this series. To Mr. Keating credit, he is literate and there were almost no mispronounced words or stumbles as I have heard in other audio book. but the narration was totally uninspired.
As for the story, it moves well in this epesode. This book did NOT drag nearly as much as "A Mighty Fortress". I tend to find the one to two hour descriptions of a single naval battle to be wearing after a while, and while I do appreciate the sense of the historic sequence of events representing the development of modern weaponry and tactics, some of the "battle sequences" are a little overlong and slow down the pacing and progress of the tale.
As usual, the character development is superb. I really care about these characters and can't wait to visit them again in the next book.
I also agree with the reader who was disenchanted with the requirement of two credits for this book. Please go back to the one credit/one book paradigm which I thought I was getting when I enrolled in Audible.
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