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WesternSFA
Midst Toil And Tribulation
by David Weber
Tor, $27.99, 548pp
Release Date: September 18, 2012
This is the sixth book in the Safehold series. Safehold, the only surviving human colony is in the midst of its religious Reformation patterned after Rome verses Luther on our own planet. Weber has made the stories quite gripping with wonderful heroes and villains. I love them. Our reformist heroes are guided by a computer Avatar of Commander Nimue Alban, one of the original force that colonized the planet. She now calls herself Merlyn Athrawes. The emperor Cayleb and the Empress Sharleyan of the Charisian Empire are the romantic heroes. Grand Inquisitor Zhaspahr Clyntahn, Vicar in chief of Zion and the Temple Lands is the consummate villain.

As in real life there are good men serving on both sides. Most are doing what they think is right, but cracks are showing in Zion 's support. Its overbearing arrogance and cruel and violent treatment of the “Heretics” has caused the Republic of Siddarmark to rebel. Actually they had no choice for the eye of The Inquisition had turned upon them and their way of life. The Zion Leaders were their own worst enemies. They lost enormous revenues earlier when they attempted to destroy Charis and now they have caused a revolution in their most prosperous supporters on the mainland. Millions are dying mostly from disease and starvation.

Charis practically strips its territories of troops and sends steam-powered ironclad river barges to infiltrate the canals and rivers of the Republic thus stopping Temple Loyalists and Zionist troops. An enormous relief effort is also launched. Cayleb coordinates from Siddar City and Merlyn is everywhere flying here and there and observing virtually. He is the ultimate intelligence specialist.

It's quite a tale and very well-written. The only quibble I have with this series is the excessive technological detail included. It is interesting, even fascinating, but too much of it interferes with the flow of the story. Some of it is necessary so the average reader should at least skim the tech. Historians and Military Enthusiasts will love the whole thing. ~~ Gary Swaty

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