I finished How Firm a Foundation today, the fifth Safehold novel. We’re onto the start of year 896, and the cast of characters has reached twenty-eight pages long. There’s also a glossary which, in addition to Safeholdian terms, includes a thorough listing of the different religious orders as based on the Archangels. I don’t read through it (or even glance at it) often, but it is a nice resource to have.
The one I complain about is the maps. You know how you play Mario and at the end of the level you find out your princess is in another tower? No matter which book I’m reading, the map I want is in another. And some of the maps make it very difficult to figure out which part is land and which is water. What I don’t understand is why we just keep adding character names to a giant list, but we only show 1-3 maps in each book? I’m really wishing for a nice, full color Safeholdian atlas at this point. A big, oversized book where I can really get a good look at each and every map, not just the regional ones.
One of the games I play as I read through this series is to figure out what the name would have been in today’s world. You may have noticed that the spellings get a bit odd, and the pronunciations are certainly stranger, but that’s because we’re talking about centuries of shifting away from standard English as a language. So everything is recognizable…somehow. So…Kornylys Harpahr would be Cornelius Harper, Styvyn Graivyr is Steven Graver, Dailohrs Hahskans is Dolores Hoskins, etc. I always find it fascinating to study shifts in language and viewpoints over time.
As far as content goes, How Firm a Foundation is another volume of building tension. A Mighty Fotress was the climax of an arc in some ways, leading up to another epic naval battle near the end of the book. In this one, the final confrontation was much more political than epic. That doesn’t make it any less important of course, just less tense and insane and dramatic. The stakes are being raised again and we’re setting the stage for a shift to the mainland. Remember, David Weber may have a fetish for naval battles, but that doesn’t mean he won’t also write more conventional land conflicts!
I mentioned last post that I won’t be doing any reading in Safehold this weekend, and that will hold true. These books are hardcover and heavy, and not worth the back pain along with the rest of the crap I’m taking with me to the convention. I do hope to finish at least one book this weekend though. Amazon also came through and I have book nine making my Pile significantly taller than it has been. I’m a bit concerned, because it’s the same size as A Mighty Fortress and Hell’s Foundations Quiver. You can see them up there in the header – they’re the very large ones.
Anyway, we’ll see how long the remaining four books take me. I’ve passed the halfway point!