Off Armageddon Reef : Safehold

  • by David Weber
  • Narrated by Oliver Wyman
  • Series: Safehold
  • 30 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Humanity is in hiding. Invention, progress, change... all are forbidden. Now it's time to change all that. The science-fiction epic of the decade begins here.
When Earth herself lay under siege by an enemy humankind could not defeat, mankind undertook one last throw of the dice: Operation Ark. Earth's final colonizing expedition was meant to build a new civilization, on a planet so distant even the Gbaba might never find it and without the high-tech infrastructure whose emissions might betray its location.
Eight centuries later, a commander from that Expedition, Nimue Alban, woke up in a cave on a planet called Safehold. She was surprised to discover that the fanatic administrators of Operation Ark had used mind-control techniques to create a false, brutally suppressive religion whose entire purpose was to forbid invention and innovation forever.
But a tiny fraction within Operation Ark's leadership remembered the truth and believed in human dignity and freedom. They've given Nimue Alban a carefully hidden cache of technology and the capabilities of the android body in which her memories, loves, hopes, and dreams live on. Now it's her job to somehow provoke the technological progress and freedom of thought and belief that the Church of God Awaiting has worked centuries to crush.


What the Critics Say

"Gripping." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Entertaining SciFi epic with a few flaws

Generally, I have been enjoying this latest by Weber, it draws on fewer cliches then some of his other novels, and the plot moves quickly, even if only to set up the sequel. Since 40 hours is serious listening, however, here are the major strengths and weaknesses you may want to consider:

The strengths: An extremely original premise sets up an interesting world for Weber's typical story of technological and military progress in the face of forces designed to slow or stop it. Additionally, the story is quite engaging and generally well-written, despite the fact that this is clearly the beginning of a very long series and that the plot advances quite slowly relative to the length of the book. And, if you like history, especially military history, you will very much appreciate Weber's incredibly deep knowledge of the way that gunpowder was milled or cannons fixed to their carriages, and how that affected the ability of armies and countries to do battle or act as centers of commerce.

The weaknesses: Weber uses many of the standard tired narrative elements of both science fiction and military technothrillers in this book. For example, there are many long, and sometimes suprisingly complicated, technical descriptions that are presented as the musing or lectures of various characters ("Capt. Thundermountain thought of the advantages of using two rollers to mill grain. By reducing heat that caused grainocentisis, this would change the way flour production worked forever!" - except for 10 minutes at a time). Additionally, Weber draws characters with broad strokes, the bad guys tend to be pretty bad, the good guys very good; and there is little human emotion or interaction among the characters aside from "manly virtues," characters may respect, fear, or honor each other, but rarely have more complex interactions. There are also some occasionally repetitive or annoying word choices ("thunderous thunder," the fact that everyone is always cocking their eyebrows).
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- Ethan M. "On Audible since the late 1990s, mostly science fiction, fantasy, history & science. I rarely review 1-2 star books that I can't get through"

David Weber always good

I admit to bias - I will pick up a David Weber book without glancing at the dust jacket to see what its about. Off Armageddon Reef does not disappoint. Set in a completely different universe from his other books, its a study from multiple political, scientific and religiuos viewpoints of the emergence of a medival/renaissance level society to industrial age sophistication, set against religous strictures forbidding the change - with good reason - but flawed execution. The characters are well drawn - even the bad guys aren't all bad.

As always with David Weber, you have to be willing to sit through detailed descriptions of how the technical stuff works. If you are the type that skips that part to get to the action, you may find yourself hitting fast forward occasionally. I found that listening to the descriptions was actually easier than reading them and ended up listening and Not skipping over the technical stuff.
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- Alison

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-26-2006
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio