Weber did a great job here. I really love his writing for the evocative battles, yet this book didn't have many --- what it did have was characters making important, honorable (and hard!) decisions, and making some stirring speeches.
This is the second novel in Weber's "Safehold" series; don't read this one without reading the first, and don't expect all the loose ends to be tied up neatly by the end of the book.
5 stars out of 5.
This is the second book in a trilogy, following "Off Armageddon Reef" and before "By Heresies Distressed." It took me a LONG time to read this book--over a month--and that has to do with Weber's glacial pace. This installment discusses everyone's point of view in the developing war between the island nation of Charis and the Mother Church. Unfortunately, the Mother Church is led by the Gang of Four (i.e., the Bad Guys) who use their position of power to equate their will with the will of God Himself. Merlin, a cybernetic avatar of a centuries-dead young woman, knows better and wants to help Charis in stopping the Gang and the Knights of the Temple Lands using forgotten and forbidden technologies.
Honestly, I love David Weber's imagination and military sci-fi storylines, but this book was a trudge. It is very similar, in fact, to the early Honor Harrington novels ("On Basilisk Station", etc.) in that there is way too much exposition and unnecessary detail. Some very interesting plot points happen in this book (I won't spoil them) and the action sequences feel genuinely warlike--but it takes FOREVER to get there. . . . But, yeah, I'll go back and read the concluding novel eventually.
This entry in the series focuses the efforts of the Church to destroy the rebels kingdom of Charis. Plenty of battles plus the efforts of Merlin to improve the technology of this new world that the human race has settled on. Lacks the tension of the first in the series but it certainly moves the series on at a good pace.