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A Review of A Mighty Fortress

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 25, 2015

A Mighty FortressA Mighty Fortress by David Weber
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh.My.God. I can’t believe I finally finished this near-1200 page monster of a book! It was brutal at times. I usually try to write complete or thorough reviews after reading a book, but I’m afraid I won’t for this one. Just too damn long, too damn much. So, a short review for a long book.

This is the fourth book in Weber’s Safehold series. It’s not a standalone book. You need to start with the first one and read them in order to know what’s going on and who’s who. In this book, the Empire of Charis is still defending itself from the Church of God Awaiting, which intends to destroy Charis. Emperor Cayleb and Empress Sharleyan are splitting their time between Charis and Chisholm, although they spend most of this book in Chisholm. They also have their first child, a girl, so they have produced an heir to the throne.

The Church’s Group of Four (vicars), led by Grand Inquisitor Clyntahn, who is a raging insane maniac, decides to build a navy to attack Charis, so they pay the various mainland kingdoms to start building ships and armaments, as well as training seamen, for the attack. When they do attack, they will vastly outnumber Charis’s fleet and it could be brutal.

Speaking of the Charisian navy, it’s always been the best in the world, but the Dohlarians now have a navy of their own and they go out looking for Charisian galleons. And they kick the Charisians’ asses. Of course, it was a 38-4 ship advantage, so look at it however you want to, but it was the first time Charis has ever lost a naval battle and the mystique is tarnished.

Meanwhile, the conquered princedom of Corisonde is producing rebels. One rebel priest and his goons torture and murder a popular priest and Merlin, who we don’t see much of in this book, gives the authorities his location so that they can arrest he and his cronies and execute them. Of course, this infuriates the Group of Four. Additionally, there’s an uprising in the making in the northern section of the country, but it’s put down too.

The book drags in many places. It has slow plotting. It plods. It gets boring at times, for instance, when Coris has to go to Zion in the winter. That section could have been pared down by about 20 pages at least. There’s not much action. Until you get to the very end. The Church finally has its navy and is joined by Harchong’s puny navy, sailing to meet the Dohlar navy. Of course, because of Merlin and his technology, the Charisians know about this and they send most of their fleet to guard Chisholm, which they think is the intended destination. They also worry about the navies joining, because when that happens, there will be over 300 ships against Charis’s 97. Not good odds. High Admiral Bryahn Lock Island takes 25 Charisian galleons, some with new weapons, to attack the Church’s navy. It will be 25 Charisian ships against 130 Church ships. Terrible odds. The only thing he thinks he can do is to attack at night in a storm with driving rain, when the Church won’t be expecting an attack. And he does. And he obliterates the first 14 Church ships before sailing into the teeth of the Church navy, taking heavy fire and casualties. But he gets his ships in the midst of the Church’s navy and the galleons with the new weapons fire and a Church ship literally explodes! Everything they hit is blown to hell. It’s not much of a fight. Most Church ships surrender. Only nine get away. Ninety three are taken by Charis, which itself has only eight ships left. And they have 60,000 Church prisoners now. It’s a huge Charisian victory. Again. And that’s where the book ends. And I had to know what happened after that, so I immediately started reading the next one. Which is where I am now.

Still, problems exist with the book. The names are still freaking ridiculous! First, there are too many in this book to keep track of. There’s an index of them in the back of the book and I think there are close to 500 characters named in this book. That’s freaking cruel. There’s no way we can keep track of them all. Also, they all have titles! They’re Baron this, Earl that, Prince this, Vicar that, Duke this, Bishop that. It’s too much. And to make matters even worse, Weber writes the names in old English spelled phonetically so that the names are virtually unpronounceable and appear to look stupid as hell and interrupt the flow of the sentence or paragraph since you have to stop and try to figure out who or what this person is. It’s damned ridiculous! It’s insulting. It’s stupid. I’m used to it now, since I’ve read four of these, but I still hate it.

Additionally, Weber likes to use certain words and phrases over and over again, beating them into your head until you want to rip your eyes out. People are constantly “baring their teeth.” As I wrote in my review for the last book, Weber — no one bares their damn teeth, moron!!! Dogs bare their teeth. Wolves bare their teeth. People don’t bare their teeth. And certainly not multiple people on the same damn page. It ticks me off. He also likes to write that people “snort.” Constantly. It’s cute the first three dozen times he writes it, but after seeing it 100 times, you want to kill any character who freaking snorts. What are they — horses?

The book also moves at a glacial pace. I think it covers about 11 months, give or take. At this rate, publishing one book a year, maybe the series will be finished by the time I die??? It’s driving me insane. As everyone says, he needs an editor. Maybe three. Cause apparently he has none. They need to speed him up and cut down on the word count.

Weber is a talented writer. I have to be honest though, these books drive me crazy. The whole time I read them, I ask myself why I’m putting myself through this torture. But like many others, I’m addicted. It’s a good story and well told. Just slow as hell and from too many points of view. I want to know what happens next and what happens ultimately. I just don’t want to have to read 25 1000 page books to do it. This is a five star book in terms of quality that deserves three stars because of all of its faults and problems, so I’m giving it four stars. Cautiously recommended for those reading the series.

View all my reviews

3 Responses to “A Review of A Mighty Fortress”

  1. Wow that is a BIG book! 🙂
    Not meaning to sound ignorant (I’ve not read any Weber books), but do they make his books into movies?!
    What you said about his verbosity and needing more editors made me laugh! 😛 Sorry the books drive you crazy! 🙂
    Currently I am reading Stolen Lives. A book a friend gave me.
    HUGS to you and Gretchen!!! 🙂

    Like

    • No, no movies. I think, in theory, they’d be great, but in reality I don’t see how they could do it. The Honor Harrington series is about a 17 book series and the Safehold series is a 7 book series, so far, and they’re all 700-1200 page books. You couldn’t possibly combine them to make a movie, nor could you cut them down. You’d have to make a series of movies and while he has a lot of fans, I don’t know that he has that big of a general audience to make that happen. It’s a shame really because he’s an excellent story teller.

      What’s Stolen Lives about? Do you like it?

      Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

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