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Publisher's Summary

Now the battle for the soul of the planet Safehold has begun.The Kingdom of Charis and the Kingdom of Chisholm have joined together, pledged to stand against the tyranny of a corrupt Church. The youthful Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm has wed King Cayleb of Charis, forging a single dynasty, a single empire, dedicated to the defense of human freedom. Crowned Empress of that empire, Sharleyan has found in Cayleb's arms the love she never dared hope for in a "marriage of state."

In Cayleb's cause, his defiance of the ruthless Group of Four who govern mother Church, she has found the task to which she can commit her mind and her courage. It is a cause for which she was born. Yet there are things Sharleyan still does not know. Secrets Cayleb has not been permitted to share, even with her. Secrets like the true story of humanity on Safehold. Like the intricate web of lies, deception, and fabricated "religion" which have chained humanity for almost a thousand years. Like the existence of the genocidal alien Gbaba, waiting to complete mankind's destruction should humans ever attract their attention once more. Like the existence of a young woman, Nimue Alban, nine hundred years dead, whose heart, mind, and memories live on within the android body of the warrior-monk she knows as Merlin. And so Empress Sharleyan faces the the great challenge of her life unaware of all that task truly entails...or of how the secrets the man who loves her cannot share may threaten all they have achieved between them... and her own life.

Listen to more in the Safehold series.
©2009 David Weber (P)2009 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

"The personalities and motivations of the numerous characters are particularly well drawn and credible, and Weber makes grand strategies and political machinations easily accessible to casual readers." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • James
  • Henderson , NC, USA
  • 07-14-09

I want Oliver Wyman back

the book was really good but I really didn't like the fact that they replace the narrator. plz bring Oliver Wyman back for the next one

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • SHV
  • Little Rock, AR United States
  • 07-13-09

I miss Oliver Wyman

Not having Oliver Wyman narrate was a big surprise. He established the personality and voices of the characters. With Jason Culp, the personality of Merlin, especially, recedes to the background, IMO.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Bad Choice in Narator

The change from Oliver Wyman to Jason Culp as narrator is disastrous. Culp's reading is dull and boring. I have given up listening and instead bought the book to read! I will not purchase the forth audio-book either as Culp is the narrator.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

More of the same

By Heresies Distressed continues much as By Schism Rent Asunder. Glacial and deliberate.

Character development and plot are consistent and make sense, but the narration move too slow for my taste. If Conquerring one safeholdian nation after another, one boot at time, is the intended modell of the series, then I will stop listening.

The change in narrator, and with it the new rythm and less consistent "character-voices" for the lead characters, were hard to get used to.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Narrator Down Spiral

Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the narrator for this book is not the same one as the narrator for the first two in the series. The change is very jarring, and this narrator is not up to the task. The first narrator changed his voice and accent for various characters. This new narrator didn't really, nor did he even attempt any kind of voice continuation from earlier in the series. Good book ruined by bad narration. Read it, don't listen to it.

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Clayton
  • Millgrove, Ontario, Canada
  • 07-26-09

And the saga continues

Well, at least David Weber does not make us wait years between installments. There are two major areas in this book that I really enjoyed (one was a battle, the other intriguing). But I found much of it a build up for . . . well that is the problem . . . I do not know exactly where this is going. Will they fastforward in the future to a point where technology advances enough that this civilization can threaten the dangerous aliens (introduced so long ago). I want to know what happens, and I will buy the next book, but I am very thankful for the 2x feature on my ipod allowing me to listen to this at double speed. Maybe I will buy the book next time so I can gloss through the less interesting parts.

Also for those of you reading this review before the book, realize that this book (more so than the others) is really a part of the story. The ending feels more like the end of chapter, with little closure.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Carl
  • Oregon City, OR, USA
  • 07-12-09

Should have combined this book with the last one

My problem here is the author didn't move the plot along far enough of fast enough. The last book and this one could have been combined very comfortably. The reader is different and puts a very different feel into his characters which would have been ok if we hadn't been so used to the previous reader. It is disconcerting to have Prince Narmann sound just like Ringo Starr though.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Oliver Whyman, Where Are You?

By Heresies Distressed is the third book in David Weber's "Safehold" series. I have to agree with a number of others who objected to the loss of Oliver Wyman as the series narrator. The change to Jason Culp caused me quite a few problems with vocal character identification. It was a terrible move on the part of Macmillan Audio. If Wyman was not available at scheduled time for recording the book, they should have waited for him to become available.

As for the book itself, I had the same feelings about the audio version that I did about the printed. Unless Weber plans to become another Robert Jordan, he needs to move the story line along a bit faster. The politics involved are devilishly delightful, but they take up too much story time. We don't really need a blow by blow account of every political and religious move on the entire planet to enjoy the action. If nothing else, that level of detail makes recapping the next volume in the series a tediously lengthly process, and makes fans lose interest before the new story lines starts. I did greatly enjoy the new story, what there was of it, but it could have been a lot better with less political detail and more action.

I give the book and audio recording 4 Stars, and Jason Culp's rendition 2 Stars for effort.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Reader makes a difference

Culp isn't a good choice for this book. Any change is jarring, but this is also a change for the worse. Culp is a good reader, but not for this. I get the feeling he doesn't like the book. He makes the prince -- who is supposed to be a heroic genius -- sound like a Welsh thug. I was actually rather surprised how much difference the change in narrator made.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Is David Weber Getting Paid by the Word?

This book is the third installment in the Safehold series, and is actually substantially shorter than the preceding title, "By Schism Rent Asunder." Still, I find the author to be indulging a penchant for excessive dialog. Perhaps "wildly excessive" would be more accurate.

The story is driven almost entirely by dialog, both internal and external. This is a story of war (and political intrigue), and Weber seems to have adopted the view that his writing should provide long stretches of boredom punctuated by brief moments of action. Despite the best efforts of the narrator, almost all of the conversations and internal dialogs seem to drag on far too long.

Compared with much of Weber's earlier work, his efforts here at character development are appreciated, but it would be nice if the characters would occasionally get to the freakin' point! After listening to this book, I am of the impression that Weber was obliged to produce it (perhaps on a deadline), but had a very skimpy plot outline to work with. He seems to have fleshed out the narrative with a lot of overwrought and unnecessary verbiage.

I would like to note that the narrator (Jason Culp) has changed since the first two books in this series. Those titles were narrated by Oliver Wyman. Apparently, Culp makes some effort to mimic the voices and accents portrayed by Wyman, with mixed and unsatisfactory results.

If you have read (and thoroughly enjoyed) the preceding books in this series, this one is probably worth enduring. But I have my doubts as to whether I will be purchasing the next one. I hope that David Weber will wrap up this series in the next book or two. Personally, I find this entire bastard sub-genre of science/historical fiction to be quickly growing tiresome.

12 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-23-17

Engrossing once I acclimatized to the new narrator

Three books in you know what you are getting but the new narrator takes some getting used to!
Jason Culp largely does an excellent job but some of the key characters just don't feel right. Caleb and Narman are the main offenders with Caleb adopting an accent that hovers some where between Ireland and West Coast of Scotland without Jason ever hitting a consistent rendition. Narman has been translated from his original lilting Irish accent to finest Brum (Birmingham, England for non-uk natives).

I'm now rep books further on in the series and the strength of Jason's other character voices shines through and makes this a true joy to listen to.

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Greg Pettit
  • 04-21-14

New narrator niggles

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is another Weber book in the safehold series. You should know by now whether or not you like the author and the series. Naval battles intrigue, etc. HOWEVER there is a new narrator who provides a very jarring performance by introducing new accents to established characters, changing established accents ( no more scottish emeraldians) and giving a very effeminate tone to Merlin (understandably).

What did you like best about this story?

Naval battles.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Jason Culp?

Oliver Wyman

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Trafalgar in space.