A Mighty Fortress
David Weber, 2010
This series seriously needs a “Last Time, On Safehold...” prologue. I'm not going to re-read, or even re-skim, one or more additional 600-plus page doorstops to reorient myself in preparation for reading this one. This is part four, incidentally, of what seems to now be shaping up to be Arthurian motifs plus Protestant Reformation plus Industrial Revolution plus Interminable Boring Warfare, In Space.
Also, the names continue to be eye-bleedingly awful. See the third paragraph of my review of the previous volume for more on this. I may have to write an entire rant about names soon.
After the action pace of By Heresies Distressed, A Mighty Fortress felt like filler. Not much happened, and when there was plot, it mostly happened to characters I didn't care about. It meanders endlessly, and I'm beginning to lose all hope that Weber doesn't plan to write a giant book about each year of a 30 year war. Almost everything that happened could have been summed up in an opening chapter to a book set a year or two later.
The climax felt tacked on, and didn't directly connect to much of anything that happened prior to page 600. I didn't get any feeling of high stakes from it, afterward there was one actually decent character scene, and then that was it. I get the sense that he's pulling this style from something like O'Brien's Aubrey-Maturin series, in which several of the books are more a series of happenings than a traditional plot, and then end without any major change.
The Aubrey-Maturin series, though, is not attempting to tell the story of every single person involved in the Napoleonic Wars as well as the Wars themselves. It tells the story of a small group of characters, and mostly focuses on the friendship between the main two. Weber, on the other hand, is juggling at least 7 or 8 major groups of multiple characters, (that's off the top of my head, there's probably more) and that doesn't count the many chapters about random people we never hear from again. Also, reading 200 pages and not coming to a huge climax is okay. 700 pages... is not okay.
It's a shame, because I really remember enjoying the first one. I felt as if Weber were taking all the themes and ideas he had begun in his various books and series and combining them into some sort of magnum opus. Unfortunately, it hasn't upheld that promise. At this point, he's just reiterating scenes he already wrote.
There was one sequence in particular in which the sequence of the battle felt like a direct copy and paste from scenes in the Honor Harrington series. In short, the style is stale.
If I hear that some actual plot movement is happening, maybe I'll dip back into this series, but for now I may have to abandon ship. I only have so many hours in the day.
1 Star - didn't much like it.