This is the book you have been waiting for. If you are a fan of this series, you know it’s been a long and interesting journey to where this book takes us. Way back in the far, far, far future, we met a group of humans aboard a magnificent starship that had fled Earth which was being conquered by the Gaba. Those aliens sought out technological civilizations and destroyed them so they would be the “master race”. In that future, Earth was definitely very advanced, but not advanced enough. So, a few starships fled to distant galaxies in search of a new home for humanity.
This group settled on Safehold. Earth humans who had been in cryo storage for the journey were planted on Safehold with their memories altered to make them wake up one day and not know they had been from Earth. They had manufactured memories of being born and raised on Safehold for many generations. But, it was all a lie. Still, the leaders of the human colonization effort wanted to give these transplanted humans something to thing about besides creating new ideas which could lead to another cycle of advanced technology and the Gaba. So, they set up a very strict religion as provided in the Writ. The Writ set for the conditions for the acceptable action of humans on Safehold. There was a church system established out of the Temple Lands with Priests, Bishop, and Archbishops tending to the day to day needs to the citizens. The Church of God Awakening in the Temple Lands was a magnificent structure in the city of Zion. It was like no other facility in the world in that it had all the modern convinces of an advance society without the knowledge of how they got that way. The Grand Vicar and the other three Vicars who ruled over the church just assumed it was God’s will that created the wonderful things inside the Temple and made them work.
Outside, even in Zion, things were a lot less magnificent. The Safehold civilization was similar to Earth at around the 16th Century where kingdoms were prevalent throughout the lands. Kings, Queens, Dukes, Earls, and the rest of the nobility ruled as the Church of God Awakening allowed them to. Most of the people in these lands worked in agriculture and tradecraft. There were few if any modern convinces, but the people didn’t know better so they were more or less content. They were fed and safe for the most part.
But, the Church of God Awakening was not the Church of God. The Grand Inquisitor decided that he knew what God wanted for the people of Safehold and that was to serve him, the Grand Inquisitor. He became very, very corrupt while the Grand Vicar and the other two Vicars of the Group of Four did nothing to curtail his view of what God wanted. So, the Grand Inquisitor began to make life miserable for the people of the church. He sent his Inquisitors to find anyone that might be doing something other than what was in the Writ and then they were severely punished. And it came to pass that thousands of the church faithful were punished for even the slightest transgressions. It was the beginning of the dark ages for Safehold.
Those future people I wrote about earlier had made a plan to provide a way to check up on the civilization on Safehold after a few centuries had passed. They built a PICA (a Personality-Integrated Cybernetic Avatar) and stored it deep in a cave on Safehold. This PICA awoke one day and found that things on Safehold were not as they should be. So she, now in a PICA body of a male taking the name of Merlin Anthrawes, made plans to change things. It would be a long and slow process since Merlin couldn’t just introduce new technology into this civilization without causing great harm. So he sought out and found a kingdom that was already getting annoyed with the Church of God Awakening. She convinced the King and his Archbishop that the Writ was terribly mis-applied by the Church of God Awakening and the Group of Four and should not be followed any longer.
This started a long and deadly war which has lasted through all nine books. Slowly, Merlin introduced new ideas to some already smart Charisian craftsman and they took those ideas and built a formidable Navy and Army with which to strike against the military of the Church of God Awakening. Things didn’t go well at first, but slowly the Kingdom of Charis began to change the thinking of others who realized they might not be on the side of God if they blindly stayed with the Church.
Do not start with this book. It’s not possible. There are so many, many characters introduced in each book that you’ll be lost before you get started. These books also cover the entire planet of Safehold with Naval and Land battles in great detail. That’s what makes this series so great is the vast and minute details written down by the author.
I hope there is another book in the series and the author does kind of allude to one more coming, but I frankly don’t know what it would be about unless the Gaba come to Safehold. Let’s hope not!