Off Armageddon Reef (Fiction : by David Weber) c. 2007

Summary: Humanity pushed out into the stars, and encountered the ruthless Gbaba. One by one, Earth and it’s colonies fell before them. At terrible cost, an expedition slipped away to found a colony on a distant, earth-like world. But will its remote location be enough to protect it? Some among the administrators do not believe so; they seize control of the expedition, wipe the colonists memories, set themselves up as Angels and provide the colonists with a totalitarian religion that forbids any technologies other than those prescribed in the holy books. With no advanced technology, the colony will never be found; but not all agree that survival under these conditions is justifiable. The resultant conflict between factions wipes out both sides, leaving the inhabitants of Safehold to continue on with their false religion, locked forever in the Medieval world. Over 800 years later, hidden in a cave beneath the planet’s surface, an android awakes. Provided with the memories and skills of Lieutenant Commander Nimue Alban, who gave her life fighting the Gbaba so that the colony expedition could escape, the android is tasked with a mission; with the immediate danger of destruction past, break the chains that bind humanities future and take them back to the stars to reclaim their destiny.

Review: And that’s just the first 20 pages! Tipping the scales at 605 p., the word ‘epic’ is fairly accurate. And this is just the first in what is currently a 4 book series. Best known for his Honor Harrington military sci-fi novels, Weber doesn’t stray too far from home here. Technology, political machinations and warfare are the main draws, all of which Weber does very well, and it makes for a gripping read. This reviewers only complaint is that the premise of the book suggests that some thorny religious issues would need to be dealt with for the plot to progress; Weber deals with them only passingly, perhaps missing an opportunity.

Read-a-likes: Fans of other military science fiction authors, such as Elizabeth Moon and David Drake, will be rewarded here. And, of course, fans of Eric Flint (who similarly has advanced technology dropped into the Middle Ages in his Assiti Shards series) should consider this a must. In addition, fans of Patrick O’Brian, C.S. Forester and Julian Stockwin willing to tolerate the presence of a sci-fi veneer will be rewarded, as most of the action is the sort of swashbuckling high seas adventure that would make those worthies proud.

Availability: This item is available from the Lake Bluff Public Library as a book. Click here to check on the availability of the item.

Review by Eric

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