Book Review: Through Fiery Trials by David Weber

Posted April 29, 2019 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Book Review: Through Fiery Trials by David Weber

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.

Through Fiery Trials by David Weber
Genres: Science Fiction
Published by Tor Books on January 8, 2019
Pages: 752
Format: Hardcover
Source: the library

Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: Cauldron of Ghosts, Treecat Wars, A Call to Duty, Hell's Foundations Quiver, At the Sign of Triumph, A Call to Vengeance, Uncompromising Honor, The Shadow of Saganami

Tenth in the Safehold space opera science fiction series and revolving around warring factions: that upstart Charis with its technological innovations and its nerve to form a breakaway church and those countries who cannot accept that Charis has won. It’s a whole new war that’s more about culture than religion.

My Take

As much as I’ve [mostly] loved Weber’s Safehold series, this one annoyed me more than a few of the others. Those flippin’ contorted names are the worst, oy. And it seems as though there are hundreds of ’em!

One that Weber should tidy up is claiming that Cherayth is in North Harchong. That had me going for a while. I do wish he’d also paid more attention to connecting the names. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out who was who and who went where. More so than usual. It did take me weeks to get this read.

The underlying series arc has been two-fold: expose the corruption behind the original schism among the Archangels and protect Safeholdians from the genocidal Gbaba.

Through Fiery Trials is a journal of Safehold’s progression from the end of their holy war with its politics and economics, and the story stretches over some thirteen years. Some countries are picking up the pieces while others are falling apart. Harchong is losing its hold on its serf-like culture while Siddermark is so corrupt, shortsighted, and filled with hate for Charisians that they are sliding into a major depression.

The Nahrman Plan is similar to our own Marshall Plan after World War II, and such a contradiction to the norm of industrial competition. Some of it will make you laugh out loud. There is a good amount of humor in here as well, primarily between those in the inner circle who know the truth about Merlin and Owl. It does take some of the pain out of the heavy lifting Weber writes.

Weber uses a third person global subjective point-of-view — there are simply too many locations and characters for it to be anything else. While a number of countries are mentioned, others are prominent within the story, including Siddarmark and Harchong. Tellesberg and Zion are fairly minor.

I LOVE that Rhobair has informed the Harchong emperor that the emperor will allow the families of officers in the Mighty Host to leave Harchong and settle in with Rainbow Waters’ people. And that the Church paid the salaries of the Mighty Host and settled them on their own lands. Lands these peasant soldiers could own. Rhobair would have loved to insist on all their families, but he knew the emperor would balk and force the Church to go to war with Harchong. Rhobair has also insisted on the same safety codes for employees and the education of children as Charis has adopted.

There is plenty of violent action with some horrible reprisals in the form of beatings, riots, and government acts against those who had tried to protect their families. Most of it being organized purposefully.

The election campaigns in Siddarmark sound like our own. Full of lies, provocation, and lots of violence. The situation there does provide an opportunity for Weber to note how consumers view an economy. And it does make sense. Lord knows there is plenty of that fear going around the US.

As for Harchong, it’s a conundrum. The Harchongian nobility realize why the rebellion is happening and why those atrocities are being visited upon their families, but they have no intention of righting the wrongs. I mean, duh… It certainly doesn’t help that the newly ennobled are even worse in their behaviors. What’s sadly funny is that their subordinates are terrified of reprisals, so they make so many wrong decisions out of fear, losing battles and men.

Naturally, families are growing, there are marriages, and there are deaths. Life goes on as does this tale of corruption and war.

The Story

Charis may have won the war and its push for the spread of technology, but the deadline for the return of the Archangels is looming. The fate of Charis and its allies is in doubt, for that same technology may trigger the automatic weapons system the Archangels originally set up. The threat of kinetic bombardment.

The prophecy, no, the threat, of the return of those Archangels looms over all that the Charisian Empire has achieved.

The Characters

Safehold is…
…a planet that was humanity’s last hope to escape the Gbaba. Its world was set up to be low-tech to avoid the enemy’s notice, but its original charter — and its religion — was perverted by a select few.

The Nahrman Plan is…
…a technological one Charis and its allies are hoping to spread throughout Safehold. The hope is that tech will be so widespread that the Archangels who return cannot destroy it without destroying Safehold. Operation Androcles is stage two. A great part of the funds that will support this plan is the newly found Mohryah Mountains under Silverlode Island.

Tellesberg, Kingdom of Old Charis, Empire of Charis, is…

…the capital of a very innovative island kingdom which broke from the original Church of God Awaiting. Cayleb Zhan Haarahld Bryahn Ahrmahk [Caleb Jean Harold Brian Armac] is emperor of the Star Empire of Charis and co-ruler with his pregnant-again Empress Sharleyan [Shirley Ann], Queen of Chisholm. Their oldest child is Crown Princess Alahnah Zhanayt Naimu Ahrmahk [Alannah Janet ?? Armac]; Gwylym Haarahld [William Harold] and Bryahn Sailys [Bryan ??] (twins); Nynian Zhorzhet [Ninian Georgette]; and, Domynyk Maikel [Dominick Michael].

Gladis Parkyr [Gladys Parker] seems to be a nanny. Father Ohmahr Arthmyn [Omar ??] will assist Sister Franhycis Sawyairm [Frances??], midwife to Sharleyan’s children. Gahlvyn Daiky [Galvin ??] is Cayleb’s valet; Sairaih Hahlmyn [Sarah Halmin??] is Sharleyan’s maid.

Sgt Edwyrd Seahamper [Edward Seahamper] is still Sharley’s bodyguard. Ensign Sebahstean Mahlard Athrawes [Sebastian Mallard ??] is with the Imperial Charisian Navy. First Lieutenant (Lt), and now Brigadier General Sir Ahrnald Falkhan [Arnold Falcon] is head of Cayleb’s security, succeeding Ahdam Ropewalk [Adam Ropewalk] who finally retired. Other members of his security include Corporal Boyke Cohlmyn. Lt Ahlbyrt Bynyt [Albert Bennet], a Chisholmian, commands Alahnah’s security; Lt Dahnyld Makahfee [Donald McAfee] will take his place. More of her security includes Corporals Frahnk Strathmohr [Frank Strathmore], Ohtuhl, and Wynstyn Draifys [Winston Dreyfuss] and Sgt Jyrohm Adkok [Jerome Adcock] who has known Alahnah since she was a baby.

Archbishop Maikel Staynair [Michael Staynair] is the head of the Church of Charis, the schismatic church hated by Mother Church. Alys Vraidahn [Alice Vraydon??] has been Staynair’s housekeeper for almost thirty years and serves as the official house mother for all the Dohlaran nobles attending the royal college. Bishop Paityr Wylsynn [Peter Wilson] and his family are the only survivors of the Wylsynn Temple Lands dynasty. Bishop Bryahn Ushyr [Brian Usher], Staynair’s secretary, aide, and now head of his staff, will accompany Staynair to Zion aboard the the CMS Sea Wyvern commanded by Commander Samyl Karstayrs [Samuel Carstairs], who is also with Staynair’s Guard.

Trahvys Ohlsyn, Earl of Pine Hollow [Travis Olson], is Cayleb and Sharleyan’s first councilor. Sir Dunkyn Yairley [Duncan Yarely] is Baron Sarmouth. Dr Rahzhyr Mahklyn [Roger Macklin] is still teaching mathematics. Mahklyn’s daughter, Tairys, is married to Aizak Kahnklyn [Isaac Conklin]. I think Dr Hahlcahm [Holcombe] also teaches math? Sister Ahmai Bailahnd [Amy Bayland] and Father Ahbel Zhastrow [Abel ??] are also part of the inner circle. Dr Sahndrah Lywys [Sandra Lewis] discovered secrets about hydrogen. Rhusyl Thairis, Duke Eastshare [Russell ??], is finally brought into the circle, and he can’t take it. Zhilyahn [Jillian] is his wife.

The Delthak Works is…
…the business of Edwyrd Howsmyn, Duke of Delthak [Edward Houseman]. A commoner with a brilliant mind, he has been in the circle almost from the start. He’s married to Zhain [Jane], the daughter of a Charisian earl, Sir Maikah Traivyr [Micah ??], Earl of Sharphill. Ehdwyrd and Zhain have twins, Sharleyan Elayn [Shirley Ann Elaine] and Maikah Rhaiyan [Micah Ryan].

Brahd Stylmyn [Brad Stillman] may become a Charisian industrial advisor. Stahlman Praigyr [?? Praeger] is an artificer at the Delthak Works, newly promoted to Vice President for Steam Development. Zhanayt Fahrmahn [Janet Farman] is Praigyr’s executive assistant, an excellent artificer in her own right and also part of the inner circle. Another pair in the inner circle are Dr Dahnel Vyrnyr [Danielle Verner] who had created the science of hydraulics and pneumatics, and her partner, Dr Sahmantha Windcastle [Samantha], who is the engineer who can apply the theory to solve real-world problems. Taigys Mahldyn [?? Malden] is president of Firearms.

Delthak Shipbuilding is expanding at their Larek Yard. Sir Dustyn Olyvyr [Dustin Oliver] is the chief constructor of the Imperial Charisian Navy. Domynyk Staynair, the Duke of Rock Point [Dominick], is Archbishop Staynair’s brother.

Sir Braiys Sohmyrsyt, Baron Deep Valley [Brice Summerset], is one of Cayleb and Sharleyan’s staunchest supporters and has a slash lizard that needs killing. Ahlys Sohmyrsyt [Alice Sommerset] is Deep Valley’s daughter. Hairahm Fyrnahndyz [Hiram Fernandez] is Deep Valley’s senior huntsman. The hunting party includes Gladys Frymyn [Gladys Freeman] who is as smart as her mother, Dr Zhain Frymyn [Jane Freeman]. Gray Wind is Cayleb’s horse on this hunting trip with Deep Valley.

Admiral Sir Bruhstair Ahbaht [Brewster Abbott] commands the Imperial Charisian Navy’s Fifth Fleet, a.k.a., Home Fleet. He and Captain Brahdryk [Broderick??] are aboard Crag Reach. Lt Commander Klymynt [Clement] is the navigator. Lt Ohtys Chandlyr [Otis Chandler] is the signals officer. They’re conducting an exercise with the Airship Bryntyn Hahlys, commanded by Lt Markys Zhasyn [Marcus Jason]. Lt Lohgyn Mytchail [Logan Mitchell] is the XO. Lt Inzioh Bryttyn [Enzio Britton] is the navigator.

The Office of Aeronautics is headed by the Seventh Sea Lord, Makadoo, and supported by Rear Admiral Aizak Cupyr [Isaac Cooper]. Commodore Makadoo had piloted HMS Gwylym Manthyr [William Manther] during the Battle of Gorath Bay.

Nimue’s Cave is…
…where Merlin awoke and where the advanced technology, including Owl, an artificial intelligence capable of learning, is hidden. It’s also “home” to Nahrmahn Baytz [Norman Bates], an avatar of the dead prince of Emerald. Princess Ohlyvya [Olivia] is his still-living wife. Both are in the circle.

Seijins are…
PICAs, Personality Integrated Cybernetic Avatars of Nimue Alban who died over 900 years ago. Safehold sees them as magical, powerful warriors. Self-Navigating Autonomous Reconnaissance and Communications platforms (SNARCs) are Owl’s exterior sensors that spy wherever they are placed.

Merlin Athrawes was the first PICA and is still bodyguard to the Ahrmahks. As an avatar, Merlin has all the knowledge of the now-vanished, highly technical Earth and is determined to return the original mission parameters to Safehold. He can also alter his physical appearance at will. He’s married to Nynian Rychtair [Ninian Richter] , the former Mother Superior at the Sisters of Saint Kohdy and the leader of Helm Cleaver. Stefyny [Stephanie], a survivor of the Church’s concentration camps along with her brother Sebahstean [Sebastian], were adopted by Nynian, making them Merlin’s children as well.

Cherayth, Chisholm, is…
…the capital city of Sharleyan’s homeland. Archbishop Ulys Lynkyn [?? Lincoln] celebrates Mass for God’s Day. Uncle Zhan and Aunt Mahrya‘s [Uncle John and Maria] children include Prince Haarahld Cayleb [Harold Caleb] and Prince Nahrmahn Merlin [Norman].

Emerald was…
…an early ally where Prince Nahrmahn Garyet [Norman Garret] rules and is worried about his wife’s, Zhanayt‘s [Janet], pregnancy. Father Ahmbrohs Makfadyn [Ambrose McFadden] is part of the circle. Dr Zhansyn Wyllys [Jansen Willis] is a fellow of the Royal College, part of the circle, and president of Southland Drilling and Refining (SD&R). Wyllys’ father, Styvyn [Steven], is against his son looking for new approaches and has cut him off from the family. Zhoelsyn Abykrahmbi [Jolson Abercombie] is SD&R’s chief engineer.

Manchyr, Princedom of Corisande, is…
…the capital of one of Charis’ allies where Prince Daivyn Daikyn [Devon Deacon??] is about to take up his crown. His sister, the pregnant Princess Irys Aplyn-Ahrmahk [Iris], Duchess of Darcos, married to Hektor Aplyn-Ahrmakh (the adopted son of the Ahrmahks), and their children include Princess Raichynda Sharleyan [Rachinda Shirley Ann]; Prince Hektor [Hector], a.k.a., Hektor Merlin; and, Princess Sailmah [Selma].

Phylyp Ahzgood [Phillip Osgood], Earl of Coris and Daivyn’s first councilor, and Sir Rysel Gahrvai [Russell Garvey], the Earl of Anvil Rock are Daivyn’s advisors. Sir General Koryn Gahrvai [Corin Garvey] is Anvil Rock’s son and in the circle. Sailys Kylmohr [?? Kilmore] is his majordomo?? Major Nimue Chwaeriau has been a seijin and PICA bodyguard for the royal family for the past six years. Tobys Raimair [Tobias Raymor] and Hairahm Bahnystyr [Hiram Bannister] are additional security. Taryl and Charlz [Charles] are old friends of Koryn’s. Alyk, Earl of Windshare [Alec] has married Sharyl [Cheryl], Sharleyan’s cousin. Seijin Krystin Nylsyn [Kristen Nelson], a.k.a., Hairyet Trumyn [Harriet Truman], who had been a miller’s daughter from Tarikah had met Elayn during the massacres. She’ll be ideal in charge of the Gahrvai nursery, able to cover for any of Nimue’s anomalies.

Kynt Clareyk, Duke Serabor and Baron Green Valley [Kent Clark], is in the inner circle, as is his wife, Lady Elayn Ahdyms Clareyk [Elaine Adams Clark]. Lyzbyt [Lisbet] is her younger sister whom Elayn had kept alive after the Sword of Schueler massacre. This sister has become Sister Lyzbyt, a brilliant psychologist, who has taken vows with the Bédarists of the Church of Charis. Admiral Tartarian.

Thesmar is…
…another ally ruled by Hauwerd Breygart, Duke of Thesmar and Earl of Hanth [Howard Braygart], married to his second wife, Mairah [Myra] with whom he will have eventually have four boys and five girls. Alysyn [Alison] is Hauwerd’s sister.

There’s also a province of Thesmar in Siddarmark.

Gorath, Dohlar, is…
…the capital of the Dohlaran kingdom ruled by King Rahnyld V [Ronald]; Princess Rahnyldah Bahrns [Ranalda Barns] is the king’s sister, and Queen Mother Mathylda [Mathilda] is still attached to Mother Church. The king has been tutored under the auspices of First Councilor Lywys Gardynyr, the Earl Thirsk [Lewis Gardener] who had survived so many disgraces. The kingdom had been an effective champion of Mother Church until Thirsk. Now the Gorath Bay Railroad is a joint Dohlaran-Charisian venture.

Major Hayzu Delakorht [Jesu Delacorte] is the commanding officer of the king’s personal armsmen; Captain Lynkyn Nuhnyez [Lincoln Nuñez] is third-in-command and responsible for Princess Rahnyldah.

Sir Rainos Ahlverez [?? Alvarez] was relieved after Shiloh; now he’s Duke Dragon Island and commander of the Royal Dohlaran Army. The king gave over Clearwater Palace as the Royal Army’s formal headquarters. Pawal Hahlynd [Pavel Holland], Earl of Kaudzhu, is the commanding officer of the Royal Dohlaran Navy and was given Saint Tairysa’s [Teresa’s] for their headquarters. Captain Zhwaigair calls it “superfiring”. Major Klairwatyr [Clearwater] is head of the honor guard.

No one regrets the loss of Aibram Zaivyair [Abram Xavier], the previous Duke of Thorast. Caitahno Raisahndo had been a trusted friend and colleague who had overseen the rebuild of the Navy’s command structure. Archbishop Staiphan Maik [Stephen Make] supported Dohlar’s withdrawal from the Jihad. Samyl Cahkrayn [Samuel Cochrane], the Duke of Fern, is chief councilor.

Hailyn, Lady Whytmyn [Helen Whitman], is one of Thirsk’s daughters and has twins: Lywys [Lewis] and Zhudyth [Judith]. Thirsk’s other daughters include Zhoahna [Joanna] and Lady Stefyny Mahkzwail [Stephanie Maxwell]. Zhoespyh?? [Joseph] is one of his grandsons. The daughters intend to send their children to Charis for education. Ahlyxzandyr [Alexander], Whytmyn’s cousin, is the earl’s heir.

The Kingdom of Tarot had been…
…a betraying ally and ruled by King Gorjah who is married to Maily [Milly??]and deeply attached to his ill mother-in-law. Prince Rohlynd [Roland] of Tarot is attracted to Fhrancys Breygart [Frances].

The Grand Duchy of Silkiah is…
…another success story and ruled by Grand Duke Kahnrad [Conrad].

Carmyn, the Grand Duchy of Zebediah, is…
…the capital of the duchy and now an ally of Charis, which had been ruled by a sorry excuse of a grand duke, Tohmys Symmyns [Thomas Simmons]. Now it’s ruled by Grand Duke Hauwyl [Howell] and his Grand Duchess Mathylda Chermyn [Mathilda Sherman]. Thank god. Rahz [Raj??] is his oldest son and heir. Young Allyn [Allen] is a grandchild and a “God’s child”, born on God’s Day; his older brother is Hauwyl Cayleb [Howell Caleb] and his sister is Emylda [Emelda]. Frahncheska [Francesca] is a niece??

Edwyrd Chermyn [Edward Sherman] commands the HMS Seeker, taking Prince Daivyn to Zebediah where the House of Daikyn is not loved. Lt Tobys Raimar [Tobias Raymar] heads the prince’s personal guard.

Siddar City, the Republic of Siddarmark, is…
…the capital city and far from being a success. Partly because they hate Charisians and partly because their own people are stirring up trouble and embezzling like mad, more interested in their own power.

The story begins with Lord Protector Greyghor Stohnar [Gregory Stoner]; former Brigadier Brawdys Samsyn [?? Samson] is his personal secretary. Ahdym Manyx [Adam Mannix] is Stohnar’s personal valet; Behverlee Manyx [Beverly] is his wife. Samyl Gahdarhd [Samuel Goddard] is Keeper of the Seal. Daryus Parkair [Darius Parker] is the Seneschal; Zhanaiah [Johanna??] is his wife. Dahnyld Fardhym [Donald Farham] is the Archbishop of Siddarmark. Henrai Maidyn [Henry Maiden] is a banker and Chancellor of the Exchequer; Klymynt Myllyr [Clement Miller] is loyal to Henrai. Zhasyn Brygs [Jason Briggs] is the newly appointed Governor of the new Central Bank of Siddarmark who is relying heavily on Paidrho Ohkailee [Pedro O’Caley] to oversee the General Board of the Trans-Siddarkmark Railroad. Bryntyn Ashfyrd [Brenton Ashford], cruelly called “the Stork”, replaces Myllyr as Chancellor of the Exchequer. Brigadier Allyn Zhoelsyn [Allen Jolson] is the City Guard’s commanding officer.

They mourn the loss of Zhasyn Cahnyr, Archbishop of Glacierheart [Jason Connor], who had worked himself to death. Arthyn is the Archbishop of Tarikah. Auxiliary Bishop of Tarikah Avry Pygrain [Avery ??] is his personal secretary. Ignaz Aimaiyr [Ignas ??] had been his intendant. Archbishop Olyvyr [Oliver] of Cliff Peak had tried to help as Archbishop Zhaysn would have. Father Grygory Abykrahmbi [Gregory Abercrombie] is the parish priest at The Church of the Holy Martyr Saint Gregory, a.k.a., Saint Gryg’s [St Greg’s], the oldest church in Lake City.

Mahlkym Preskyt [Malcolm Prescott] is the Charisian ambassador to Siddarmark.

Tymahn Quentyn [Timon Quentin], head of a banking dynasty, had tried to help. Tymahn’s older son, Mahrtyn [Martin], was murdered, leaving Braisyn [Brayson] to inherit. He’s more interested in freezing out Mahrtyn’s son, Owain [Owen].

Rohskoh Flahnairee [Roscoe Flannery], the head of the Oil Merchants’ Guild, challenged Myllr. General Zhermo Hygyns [?? Higgins] is competent but not brilliant and has a thirst for power. It’s why he’s in the Syndicate’s power: Zhaikyb Fyrnahndeyz [Jacob Fernandez] is a banker with his own deep laid plans; Ahskar [Oscar] is a papermaker; Mahryahno [Marano]; Ghustahv Phaiphyr [Gustav Piper] is the publisher for the Siddar City Sentinel; and, Ahlahnzo Mykgrady [Alonzo McGrady], the owner of the city’s biggest chain of groceries.

Tymyns [Timmons] would recognize honest thought but has been convinced that those evil land speculators Mahthyw Ohlsyn [Matthew Olson] and Maikel Zhoelsyn [Michael Jolson] are honest. The naive Dustyn Nezbyt [Dustin Nesbitt] is married to the temperamental Mathylda [Mathilda], and they have a daughter, Aileen, an enthusiastic sailor. Orlynoh Archbahld [?? Archbold] is Nezbyt’s executive assistant. Zhak Hahraimahn [Zack Harriman] (his experience is in small business trading) had been his father’s chief assistant and has always been uncomfortable with the pace of innovation. Taigys Ovyrtyn [?? Overton] and Grygory Hahlys [Gregory Hollis] are speculators in Tarikah real estate, cheating farmers desperate to sell.

Myltyn Fyshyr [Milton Fisher] and Clareyk Zahmsyn [Clark Jameson] are roll checkers at the elections. Voters they check include Bryttyn [Britton] and Sahlahmn Breyk [Solomon Break]. Wahlys Mahkhom [Wallace Macom] is a delegate from Gray Walls; his wife is Glorya [Gloria]. (Auxiliary Bishop Gharth Gorjah of Glacierheart [Garth ??] pushed Mahkhom into running for office. Governor Landoll gives Mahkhom his orders.) Rahskho Gyllmyn [Roscoe William] is a delegate from Thesmar province. Zhefytha Trumyn [?? Truman] does not intend to continue as Speaker of the Chamber. Father Ansyn Ohmahly [Anson O’Malley] is the Chamber of Delegates’ chaplain. Master Gahnzahlyz [Gonzalez] is the Clerk of the Chamber. The Hygyns supporters include Maikel Zhoelsyn [Michael Jolson] from Tarikah who is the new Speaker; Bahrtolohmayo Zheffyrsyn [Bartholomew Jefferson] is a new delegate from Westmarch; and, Styvyns Trumyn [Stevens Truman] and Vyncyt Ohraily [Vincent O’Reilly] are Cliff Peak’s senior delegates.

It doesn’t look like Governor Tompsyn [Thompson] can protect the Charisians in Glacierheart, although he’ll try. Kydryc Fyguera [Cedric Figuera] had held the city and been elected as Thesmar’s first governor. Ahndrai Draifys [Andre Dreyfuss], a successful Lake City law master, was appointed governor of Tarikah by Stohnar when then-Governor Dairyn Trumbly [Darren Trumbly] gave the Army of God his key to the city. Tairayl Mhardyr [Terrell Marder] had been the provincial lieutenant governor at the time and had then been appointed governor of Cliff Peak. He, however, fell off the honesty wagon and is in bed with a most dishonest crowd.

The Trans-Siddarkmark Railroad is intended to boost Siddarmark’s economy and has a General Board to oversee it. Lainyl Zhaikahbysn [Lionel Jacobson], a member of the General Board and an engineer, is not happy about some of the contracts. Lawrync Ashtyn [Lawrence Ashton], a Charisian and an engineer, is another member of the General Board.

Selyk, Siddarmark
Shormyn Mahkluskee [Sherman McCloskey] drives a freight wagon with Grygory [Gregory] as his dragon in Selyk. Madlyn and Tobys Tompsyn [Madeline and Tobias Thompson] and her family are considered Temple Loyalists because they fled the massacre. The family includes their sons Sheltyn [Shelton] (his fiancée;, Mohraiah [Moira], died of pneumonia) and Styvyn [Steven] and Ellyn [Ellen] the baby of the family; another brother, Tohmys [Thomas], also died of pneumonia. Orsyn Hylmyn [Orson Hillman] is a customer. Braisyn Klymynt‘s [Bryson Clement’s] family owns the booth next to the Tompsyns.

Lake City, Tarikah, Siddarmark
The Tohmys family [Thomas] are known as Temple Loyalists and one of its sons, Rychyrd Tohmys [Richard Thomas], an assistant cook, is obsessed with books. Clyntahn and Danyel [Clinton and Danielle] are his parents; Aryn/Ahryn [Aaron] is his older brother. Wyllym Styrges [William Sturgis] is the cousin who had welcomed the Tohmyses when they fled the massacre. Master Stywyrt Hahraimahn [Stewart Harrison] is a bookseller. Another Loyalist, Hairklys Feldyrmyn [Heracles Felderman], is in the hospital. Byrt Tyzdail [Bert] is all that’s left of his family and had once been friends with the Tohmyses. Ahndru Ahrdmor [Andrew Ardmore] seems to be a friend of Aryn’s.

Ananasberg, the Stylmyn Gap, Siddarmark
Kynyth Sahnchyz [Kenneth Sanchez] is a Siddarnarkian engineer, and Aivahn Ohgylsbee [Ivan Oglesbee] is an engineer representing the Delthak Works; both of whom are finding shipments of poor quality supplies for the railroad. They suspect Inosyncio Hymphyl [Innocencio Hemphill] of letting it slide. Kynyth knows a report to Kartyr Sulyvyn [Carter Sullivan], a senior purchasing agent, will be pointless.

The Enemies

Desnair, the Crown Lands, Desnairian Empire, is…

…not an ally of Charis, in fact they hate Charisians and are technically still at war with them. Mahrys Ahldar [Maris Alder], a.k.a., Emperor Mahrys IV of Desnair, is their ruler. Symyn Gahrnet [Simon Garnet] is Mahrys’ cousin stuck with laying out the economic situation.

The Duke of Traykhos is Marhys’ uncle and first councilor. More advisors include Anzhelo Styvyns [Angelo Stevens], the Duke of Pearlman and Chancellor of the Exchequer; Zhules Estayben [Jules Esteban], the Duke of Sherach and Army (and Navy) Minister; and, Sir Rhobair Gahrnet [a French-sounding Robert Garnett], the Duke of Harless (and Symyn’s older brother; their father, Sir Ahlvyn Gahrnet [Alvin Garnett], had died in the Kyplyngyr Forest disaster) is the Foreign Minister and runs its spy networks. Sir Hyrmyn Khaldwyl [Herman Caldwell] is Harless’ senior deputy, not quite a commoner.

Sir Dunkyn Paitryk [Duncan Patrick], a former colonel in the Army of Justice, is the managing director of Iythria Automotive Works, which is owned by Baron Iythria. Mahnan Zhyng is a Harchongian examining Desnairian automotives. Former Charisian Stywyrt Showail [Stewart ??] plans to hire the unscrupulous Dymytree Shallys [Dimitri ??], one of Nahrmahn Tidewater’s (a Delthak subsidiary) talented artificers, who is currently assistant yard manager and the primary liaison with the Navy.

Delferahk is…

…a poverty-stricken neighbor of Desnair.

Harchong is…

…an Oriental-styled culture that focuses on nobles and “slaves”. Very few men are free. It’s then emperor, Waisu, refused to allow its Mighty Host to come home at the end of the war because they knew how to use weapons. This led to the Rebellion. Now his son, Crown Prince Zhyou-Zhwo, is emperor and just as much of an idiot. Mother Church’s representatives collude with the nobles in how the commoners are treated.

The Emperor’s Spears are…
…professional soldiers, the elite of the Imperial Harchongese Army who had not been allowed to enlist in the Mighty Host. Captain of Horse Ruwahn Nyangzhi commands a column escorting a convoy of rifles. His men include Captain of Swords Dauzhi Pauzho (dies).

Lyangbau Saiyang, Earl of Winter Glory, is in command of an army; Lord of Foot Chyang is his second-in-command.

Laichyng, North Harchong, is…
…a seaport that, along with Mangchu, becomes a territory taken by Yinzhung Fangzhin, a warlord.

City of Shang-mi, Tiegelkamp Province, North Harchong, had been…
…the capital of Harchong where Emperor Waisu IV and his Imperial Palace are located. Members of the Court include Lord of Foot Runzheng Zhou, Baron of Star Rising; Baron Blue River; Earl White Fountain; Grand Duke North Wind Blowing who is the Waisu’s first councilor; Duke Silver Meadow is Minister of the Exchequer; and, Zwingfu Ywahn is the First Permanent Underclerk who formulates the Empire’s spending and its policies (including vast sums going into his own pockets). Zhengtu had been mayor of the city.

Sochal is…
…the seat of that scum, Kaihwei Pyangzhow, who was Baron Spring Flower and is now a grand duke who’s looted indiscriminately; Hwadai Pyangzhow is his unhappy wife(, from a wealthy squire, whom Kaihwei had bought with his title to gain wealthy from Hwaidai’s father). Kangdyng Pozhi is his chief bailiff.

Lord of Foot Zhailau Laurahn, previously a Captain of Bows with the Spears in Qwaisun who deserted and then took over Qwaidu with Chaiyang and a few hundred deserters, now commands Spring Flower’s army (Spring Flower enticed him to command his armies by promising to pardon and enfeoff him as Baron Qwaidu). Sgt Major Hanbai Chaiyang would love to shoot Corporal Gwun Fenghai, one of his men who is very, very good at killing people and enjoys it quite a bit. Private Gaidwo Mai-ku is standing sentry. The vicious Taizhang Yanzhi is due on sentry duty. Myngzhung Mau was a boyhood friend whom Yanzhi killed for more food.

Captain of Foot Zhungdau Rung, a company commander, snaps commands at Captain of Swords Mahngzhwun Cheng.

2nd Squadron, 3rd Platoon
Captain of Bows Maizhai Rwan-tai is in command. Platoon Sgt Lyungpwo Saiyang looks more like a vagabond. The horses in Hautai’s section look bad. Captain of Bows Kaujyng Pyng is the third officer to command. Captain of Horse Zhaigung Lwanzhi is in command of the Sochal Infantry Regiment. Captain of Foots Raulai, Renshwi, and Zhweiau.

Captain of Bows Kengbwo Gyng commands 1st Company’s 3rd Platoon.

Not Quite Enemies and Almost Allies to Charis

Five Islands, East Harchong, is…
…the land given to the rejected Mighty Host by Mother Church. This army is led by the honorable Tyshu Daiyang, Earl Rainbow Waters. Hyngpau is his wife who joined him in exile. He has done his best to care for his disgraced men, making him the only great noble of Harchong the serfs are prepared to follow, an army loyal only to Rainbow Waters, not the emperor. Reg Sgt Major Mangzhee Zhang is Rainbow Waters’ worried majordomo. Zungnan Tyan is his valet. Tyngchen Zhu is a widow of one of the veterans and functions as Rainbow Waters’ assistant housekeeper; Madam Chyrzhi is the housekeeper. Captain of Foot Giaupan is but one of the many men who stayed with Rainbow Waters.

Medyng Hwojahn, Baron Wind Song, is his nephew and successor. He’s married to the much younger Walkyr daughter, Sahmantha [Samantha]. Lord of Foot Syizhyan Lung is in charge of Wind Song’s army. Lord of Horse Rungwyn is surveying the route.

Zhynkau, Boisseau Province, United Provinces (UP), North Harchong is…
…now part of the rebels’ holdings, the UP. Lt Yausung Ryndau is with the UP Provisional Militia and in charge of a platoon. Platoon Sgt Yingkan Fuzhow. Lt Bhradfyrd is a Charisian trainer. Sgt Zheng and Sgt Chwaiyn are both leading a squad. Corporal Naiow is part of Chwaiyn’s. Brigadier Zhanma (he’d been Captain of Horse Hauzhwo Zhanma, the commander of the Zhynkau city guard. He had sent a Captain of Bows to deliver dispatches (and the news of Shang-mi’s fall and the emperor’s death).) is now with the UP.

Airships from Charis are making deliveries, the first was Lt Ahlyxzandyr Krugair [Alexander Krueger] of the Imperial Charisian Air Force and commander of His Majesty’s Airship Synklair Pytmyn. Lt Ahlbyrt Ahzbyrn [Albert Osborne] is his XO. Ensign Mahrtyn Braiahnt [Martin Bryant] is the navigator. Lt Kynyth Pahlmairis [Kenneth Palmyrus] the engineering officer. They’ll all be “upgraded” to the Aivaahn Hahgyz. Chief Petty Officer Tymyns [Timmons] sets up the drop.

The Chynduk Valley is…
…unwilling to put itself under Duke Spring Flower’s protection; Grand Duke Snow Wind had been their ruler. The town of Ranlai has ignored the duke’s orders.

Zhutiyan, Chynduk Valley, is…
…a town in the valley. Zaipau Ou-zhang is the mayor. Squire Miyang Gyngdau and his wife Rouchun; his sister-in-law, Madam Yanshwyn Gyngdau who is a widow, scholar, and healer (Zhyungkwan had been her husband, a man of letters); and, Father Yngshwan, who is the senior parish priest and acting bishop, appear to be the town council.

Baisung Tsungshai is an artificer in the Jai-hu manfuactory who married Payuin, Syngpu’s daughter. They’ve since had a son, Tangwyn. (Fengwa had been Payuin’s sister, and Tsungzau, her brother, who had died along with Sengpu’s first wife, Shuchyng.)

You’ll love ex-Sgt Major Tangwyn Syngpu who becomes the Commander of the remnants of the Mighty Host who returned illegally to Harchong and the serfs who have fled to them. Saiwanzhen is Yanshwyn’s granddaughter. Sister Baishan Quaiho is the midwife (Merch had injected nanotech to help Yanshwyn become pregnant). Sengpu and Yanshwyn have a baby girl, Shuchyng Gengwa Syngpu.

Private Yonduk Kwo and Sgt Yuhnzhi Taiyang (one of Syngpu’s original recruits) whi is in charge of a platoon. Corporal Ma-zhin is one of Taiyang’s. Zhouhan Husan and his boys hammered Spring Flower, stopping them at Kyngswun Kwyfan’s Farm, but losing Zhyndow.

Platoon Sgt Taiyang gives Corporal Tungkau an order.

Allayn Tahlbaht provides advice. Seijin Merch O Obaith comes to advise Sengpu. Major Fraidareck Bulyrd [Frederick Bullard] is a Charisian guest who overwintered after shimmying down a rope from an airship with Sgt Major Rahdryk Hamptyn [Roderick Hampton] to help train.

City of Yu-kwau, South Harchong
Now-Emperor Zhyou-Zhwo Hantai‘s palace is here. Zhwunzhyng Rwan, Earl Golden Sunrise, is one of North Wind Blowing’s most loyal allies; Zungju Byngzhi, Duke of Summer Flowers is new; and, Bishop Kangsya Tung-zhi, a rabid Schuelerite, is the former Bishop of Maiku (in exile) who had been promoted to replace the assassinated Zhynchi.

Khaizhang Taiyang serves Ahnhwang Hwei, the Grand Duke of North Wind Blowing. His heir is Hangwau Ge-yang, Earl of Cinnabar Hill, in Queiroz Province (they’ve been letting serfs escape), whom North Wind Blowing arranged to become one of the emperor’s trusted confidants.

Syuhwei is the daughter ripped from her father’s fleeing carriage. Manzhwo and his wife do not escape either.

Saint Lerys’ Foundry…
…a joint venture with Delthak and Summer Flowers, is outside Yu-kwau with Zhaspahr Mahklyn [Jasper Mackllin], a Charisian; Tymythy Kasgrayv [Timothy Cosgrove]; Master Zhwyfeng Nengkwan, who is a Harchongese supervisor for the foundry. Zyngchi.

Mangzhin Tyan, Earl Snow Peak is part of the Court. Bauzhyn Nyan-chi, the Baron of Dawn Sky, is part of the Earl of Snow Peak’s staff and needed because of his experience, however shortened, with the Mighty Host (his dad died and he had to come home). Mangzhin Tyan is Snow Peak’s chief of staff.

Zhynkau, Boisseau, North Harchong, is…
…a city in the Boisseau province, a province which has a strong group of craftsmen and artisans and where Archbishop Baudang Zynchi adheres to the old Church rules (the prince orders his assassination).

Cheshire, Boisseau, North Harchong, is…
…a similar province of craftsmen and artisans.

Patou, Boisseau Province, North Harchong
Bishop of Patou Yaupang Lyauyan sides with the strong Reformist element. Yingcho is the mayor debating the Charisian offer.

Baron Star Rising‘s warhorse, South Wind, has been specially trained. His wife is Fengzhou, Crystal Fountain’s first cousin. Star Rising’s oldest son is Laiouzhyn. Kanzheng Gwanzhi is Star Rising’s senior armsman; his son, Kanzheng, is another. Star Rising has a cousin, Enbau, who was too stubborn to get out of the south.

Tahnshwun Zheng-chi, Baron Crystal Fountain, states that the UP offer is an act of open rebellion. Sai-hwahn Tsaiyu is a senior member of the Blacksmith’s Guild with lots of common sense.

Bairahn Mahgynys [Byron Magnus] is a highly trained professional helping the Reformists. Hauzhu Shozu, a free peasant, is amazed at the wages. Zhyqwo is Shozu’s third oldest son away at university in Shang-mi.

Cliffwall, Ky-su, North Harchong, is…
…now the stronghold of former Captain of Swords Zhynzhou Syang who is desperate to feed his men and wants to be Baron Cliffwall.

Zhyahngdu is…
…on Zhyahng Bay and is now a major relief center administered by both the Mother Church and the Church of Charis.

The Church of God Awaiting…

…a.k.a., Mother Church, is the original church of Safehold and had held total power over the entire planet. Located in the Temple Lands in the City of Zion, it is ruled by the Group of Four vicars, who have seen the light, especially once Clyntahn’s power was broken. Yay!! The new Grand Vicar is Rhobair (Duchairn) II [a French-sounding Robert ?]. Vicar Allayn Maigwar [Allen Magar??] is Captain General of Mother Church.

Bishop Militant Tymythy Symkyn [Timothy Simpkin] is a conservative Chihirite and a Brother of the Sword who had served under Archbishop Militant Gustyv Walkyr [Gustav Walker] in the Jihad. Now he’s Chancellor for Rhobair, then will take the name Tymythy Rhobair). (Tifny [Tiffany] is his wife and they’ve just had a baby, Rhobair Tymythy Ahntahn Zhak Symkyn [Robert Timothy Anton Zack Simpkin].) Vicar Haarahld Zhessop [Harold Jessop] will assume Symkyn’s place as Chancellor. Father Zhon Fydnand [John ??] is his secretary. Vicar Zherohmy Awstyn [Jeremy Austin] is one of Symkyn’s deputies, and while he doesn’t like the Church of Charis, he does appreciate the thought that Charis has put into the future. Bishop Militant Khanstahgnzo Phandys is the commander of the Temple Guard and one of Rhobair’s most trusted confidants. Father Vyncyt [Vincent] is his aide??

Vicar Bryahn Ohcahnyr [Brian O’Connor] is the Treasurer of the Church, Rhobair’s successor. Bishop Rahzhyr [Roger] assigns housing from the Office of Protocol. The Wylsynn family was the least corrupt of the priests. And paid for that decency. The Zytan Kwill Center is in memory of Father Kwill and provides many shelters for the citizens of Zion.

The Cathedral of the Holy Archangel Schueler is…
…in the city of Brohkamp, in the Episcopate of Schueler in the Temple Lands. Archbishop Lywkys Braytahn [Lucas Brayton] knows that the Order of Schueler had taken a monstrous and well-deserved blow for what they did in the Jihad. Father Ahrnahld Samysn [Arnold Samson] is the rector of the church. Father Kohdy Trahskhat [Cody Trascott] is the assistant rector with the Order of Bédard, a very secretive order which hides the journal of Saint Zherneau which reveals the Adams and Eves, humans whose memories the “archangels” rewrote.

Father Kuhymychu Ruhstahd, an upper-priest from Camp Chihiro, had been forced to make horrible decisions and has been named an official martyr. And the Archangel Schueler appears during the Mass with HIS Testimony of Schueler so they can read the truth.

The Archangels were…

…the original humans who reached Safehold and the winners of their rebellion — Eric Langhorne was their leader, Androcles Schueler was into justice, Adorée Bedard was all about education, Hastings was the patron of geology and geography; Pasquale was into health; Chihiro; and, others are among the true evil ones who chose to keep the people at a medieval level using mind control and the books they incorporated into the Holy Writ, the Safeholdian holy bible that has been rewritten time and time again, beginning with “Archangel” Langhorne. The Book of Schueler and the Book of Chihiro were some of the later additions.

The Key of Schueler, a memory module containing the contents of every book written on Safehold, is a recorded hologram of Schueler as well as a weapon system. The Temple in Zion is itself a planetary-defense bunker.

The Archangels who wanted to adhere to the original plan included Shan-wei, now castigated as the Evil One. She is an imprecation, the Mother of Lies, and demon to the people of Safehold. She was also Dr Pei Shan-wei who was demonized by fellow crewmen who betrayed the mission’s original purpose

The Cover and Title

The cover is divided horizontally into a black band at the top forming the background for the author’s name, embossed in a muted metallic red. The center band is a graphic with Merlin in armor and cloak, a sword at his side, standing at the top of a mountain looking out over a landscape of airships floating in the pastel sunset. Merlin’s own futuristic ship hovers below him. The bottom band is a bright metallic red as background for the embossed silver title. Two green-gold borders separate the bands, both containing an info blurb.

The title is about Safehold, which has been Through Fiery Trials that only continue in a different form.

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2 responses to “Book Review: Through Fiery Trials by David Weber

  1. OMGosh, this sounds like a complicated book. That’s not an automatic no for me, but it does mean I have to be wide awake and alert to read. Thanks for reviewing this one.

  2. I recently read a book where there were so many characters and they had odd names. It was hard to distinguish them too and made the reading slow. Sorry this one didn’t work as well as some of the others in the series.

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