Book Review: David Weber’s Like a Mighty Army

Posted March 29, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: David Weber’s Like a Mighty Army

Like a Mighty Army


David Weber

military science fiction that was published by Tor Books on February 18, 2014 and has 672 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Mission of Honor, Insurrection, Worlds of Honor, Empire from the Ashes, Changer of Worlds, Torch of Freedom, Hell’s Gate, Hell Hath No Fury, In Fire Forged, In Fury Born, Off Armageddon Reef, By Schism Rent Asunder, Mission of Honor, By Heresies Distressed, A Rising Thunder, A Mighty Fortress, How Firm a Foundation, Fire Season, Midst Toil and Tribulation, Shadow of Freedom, House of Steel, Worlds of Weber: Ms. Midshipwoman Harrington and Other Stories, Beginnings, Cauldron of Ghosts, Treecat Wars, A Call to Duty, Hell's Foundations Quiver, At the Sign of Triumph

Seventh in the Safehold military science fiction series revolving around a religious war while Merlin pushes this backward world into one that has a chance of surviving the future.

My Take

I never thought I’d say this about a David Weber, but this was a bit dull. At least for the first quarter at which point it picked up and became more interesting. But still, I don’t feel as if we’ve made much headway in this installment.

Yes, there are some notable events: Hektor and Irys’ trials, the new PICA, my realization that Merlin is quite serious about the entire world getting in sync with his plans — much to the military men of Charis’ conceding dismay, and of course, the fairly easy time the ICM has of plowing through the Army of God. But mostly it’s a rehash of improved weapons and battles.

Don’t even bother trying to figure out which camp is currently being discussed in any chapter. It’ll take awhile before a name will hit you and you know, ah, the enemy or this is a friend. Stumbling across Militant Bishop and someone saying Mother Church helps. Simply saying which country the camp is in doesn’t help. Not me, anyway.

We do learn that the original Schueler appeared to the first Wylsynns and charged them with keeping Mother Church more true to the original mission.

The Story

I was gonna cheat and use the official book description. Unfortunately, even it can’t get excited, lol.

Suffice it to say that battles are fought and won. The Imperial Charisian Army impresses and progress is made. I know, whoopee.

The Characters

I’ve only touched on the major players and have pretty much ignored what was happening out on the battlefields. I think you can look at the character list I made out for Midst Toil and Tribulation, 6, and get an idea of who’s running what and where. While it won’t be quite as up-to-date, not much actually changes.

Major Merlin Athrawes is an avatar charged with bringing back the original mission parameters to Safehold. He has all the knowledge of the now-vanished, highly technical Earth, and it is the personality of Lieutenant Commander Nimue Alban, a woman dead these past 900 years, which has been downloaded into his circuits. Ahbraim Zhevons is one of Merlin’s alter egos he created which enables him to be in several places at once as he cannot reveal his technological capabilities. The world of Safehold thinks all are seijins, powerful warriors from their myths. He’s also Shilohian mountaineer, Zhapyth Slytyr.

Owl is a computer program with which Merlin and those he let in on the secret can interface. The SNARCs are small spy devices scattered throughout Safehold.

Cayleb Ahrmakh [Caleb Armak] is the Emperor of the Star Empire of Charis, King Cayleb II, and Emperor Cayleb I, with his beloved Empress Sharleyan [Shirley Ann] and their baby daughter, Crown Princess Alahnah [Alanna]. Sharleyan’s personal armsman, Sergeant Edwyrd Seahamper [Edward], is still with her.

Flag Lieutenant Hektor Alply-Ahrmahk, the Duke of Darcos and an adopted son of Cayleb Ahrmahk, is betrothed to Princess Irys Daykyn of Corisande, who has come to accept the truth of her father’s murder. Prince Daivyn Daykyn is her brother and the ruler, eventually, of Corisande. Lady Mairah Breygart is Irys’ companion on the sea voyage home.

On the Charisian side of the Empire; Tellesberg is its capital

Ahlvyno [Alvino], Baron Ironhill, is the Empire’s treasurer and worried about outgo. Trahvys Olhsyn [Travis Olson], the Earl of Pine Hollow (Nahrmahn’s cousin) is First Councilor.

Prince Nahrmahn Baytz [Norman Bates] is still the Imperial spymaster even though he died in How Firm a Foundation, 5, and develops a great relationship with Owl, humanizing him. Dowager Princess Ohlyvya [Olivia] is Nahrmahn’s widow and receives a great gift.

Archbishop Maikel Staynair [Michael Stayner] is a Charisian and leads the new Church of Charis. Father Paityr Wylsynn [Peter Wilson], the Intendant in Charis, is still in charge of granting patents and blessing/accepting each new invention to ensure it doesn’t go against Church proscription. The Brethren of Saint Zherneau has guarded the journal of Saint Zherneau and is part of the inner circle.

The Royal College of Charis
Doctor Rahzhyr Mahklyn [Roger Maclin?], the Chancellor of the Royal College of Charis has full access to Owl. Doctor Sahndrah Lywys [chemistry; Sandra Lewis] is pure scientist, who is experimenting still with guncotton, and I think she’s in love with Owl, at least his databases, lol. Ehdwyrd Howsmyn [Edward Houseman], a.k.a., the Ironmaster of Charis, is still hard at work. Styvyn Bruhstair is a master clockmaker and in charge of creating the tools and skills required for inspectors to guarantee uniformity of components. He’s re-invented so many rules and gauges, it’s not funny. Parsahn Sylz is a cheeseparing, taskmaster who’s about to discover the error of his ways.

Charisian Navy
Sir Ahlfryd Hyndryk [Alfred Hendrick], Baron Seamount, is a navy admiral, the commanding officer of the Bureau of Ordnance, and doesn’t have access to Owl. Captain Ahldahs Rahzwail [Aldus Roswell] is his executive officer and senior assistant. Admiral Sir Domynyk Staynair, Baron Rock Point and the archbishop’s brother, is busy building ships.

Sir Gwylym Manthyr and his men were murdered by the Dohlarans and the Church in How Firm a Foundation. They have become a rallying cry for the allies.

On the Chisholmian side of the Empire where…

…Cherayth is its capital. Paitryk Mahknee, Duke Lake Land, and Grand Duke Mountain Heart will discover a cost to their greed. Sir Lewk Cohlmyn [Luke Colman], the Earl of Sharpfield, is now the second-ranking officer in the ICN and looking forward to payback for his friend, Manthyr.


Sir Rysel Gahrvai, the Earl of Anvil Rock, and Admiral Taryl Lektor, the Earl of Tartarian, are Prince Daivyn’s co-regents and truly loyal. Anvil Rock’s son, Sir Koryn Gahrvai [Corwin Garvey], is in charge of the city guard and terrified at the task of keeping Irys safe. Archbishop Klairmant Gairlyng makes his position on the Church of Charis and that of God Awaiting as well as the relationship Corisande is about to embark on with both Irys’ marriage and Daivyn offering his loyalty to Charis perfectly clear. Charlz Doyal [Charles Doyle] is still here. Lieutenant Charlz Sheltyn [Charles Shelton] is a jerk who gets his comeuppance. From Captain Nimue Chwaeriau, who is assigned as personal adjunct to Hektor and Irys.

Siddarmark is under attack

Lord Protector Greyghor Stohnar [Gregor Stoner] is the ruler, grateful for the help of Charis and her Empire. Ahnzhelyk Phonda [Angelique Fonda], a.k.a., Aivah Parhsahn [Aiva Parson], continues to fund the acquisition of weapons and coordinates with her spy network.

Mother Church

The Church of God Awaiting was set up by some of the original Safehold command crew of Operation Ark, including Eric Langhorne and Bédard, whom the colonists quickly came to revere as Archangels with the Word of God. But by doing so, they changed the mission’s intentions and angered fellow crew members: Pei Kau-yung and Pei Shan-wei (her name became a curse). Pei Shan-wei stored the original orders in a cave that became known as Nimue’s Cave.

The Church is based in Zion and ruled by a Group of Four Vicars, with a Grand Vicar, supposedly over them: Zhaspahr Clyntahn (Jasper Clinton) is the worst, a psychopath willing to destroy everyone for his own desires, and in charge of the Inquisition (Archbishop Wyllym Rayno is in charge of Clyntahn’s Rakurai and spies); Rhobair Duchairn (a French Robert) is treasurer and desperately trying to find the money for this war; Allayn Maigwair, the Captain General, is struggling with manufactories and grateful for Lieutenant Dynnys Zhwaigair’s inquiring mind in Dohlar while Brother Lynkyn Fultyn is in Zion — if they can just keep both from Clynthan’s notice; and, Zahsyn Trynair ([Jason? Trainer??] was the true power of the Council, the Chancellor, but even he is under Clyntahn’s thumb.

The Army of God

Army of Justice
Sir Rainos Ahlverez is a Dohlaran, who ends up having a sea change about Thirsk; Merlin and company quickly come to regret the speed at which he learns. Sir Lynkyn Lattymyr [Lincoln Lattimer] is his aide. Fortunately (for our side), he’s placed under Sir Ahlvyn Gahrnet [Alvin Garnet], the Duke of Harless, a Desnarian who thinks he’s all that, right along with his second-in-command Earl Hankey; Earl Hennet is another commander who believes calvary can do anything. Sir Graim Kyr [Graham Kerr] is his grand-uncle’s supercilious, idiot of an aide.

The Key of Schueler is a weapon programmed to detect and destroy technology that reaches a certain level. Rakurai are independent assassins for the Church.

The Cover and Title

It’s very much a Baen cover and cut into horizontal thirds with a dark band at the top showcasing the author’s name in raised silver while the bottom band is bronze metallic with the embossed silver title. The central graphic banded in ribbons of purple is of Nimue and Merlin as they look over yet another new ship of the line.

The title is true enough, although I should think you could remove the “like”, for this is not so much Like a Mighty Army, but is one.