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Langhorne! - Elf M. Sternberg
I've been reading David Weber's Safehold series. I can't recommend it unless you're an absolute Weber fan; it's pretty much the worst Weber fanservice I can imagine all rolled into a single, many-millions-of-words-long story. It's not really a work of modern fiction; it's more like an fable or apologue, a "moral story" in which the good guys are emphatically good, the bad guys are emphatically bad, and everyone in between is meant to highlight a point on the scale between grace and damnation.

The premise is ridiculous: the human race has been Wiped Out by an alien species that hates innovative competitors. In a classic "they hate us for our freedoms" parable, the first book has Captain Langhorne order the last human colony ships to race as far away from the battlefield as they can, find a habitable world, and create a new set of colonists brainwashed to believe in a singular, monotheistic religion with a very Catholic-like heirarchal setting, but designed with sins and punishments that theorically will prevent humans from ever innovating again, to avoid coming to the attention of the aliens. Everything is taught in terms of "preserving men's souls into heaven." Not only were the colonists brainwashed to believe in Langhorne's religion, but for the first century colonists interacted with Archangels who flew and had clearly divine powers and they all wrote down their testimonies. There is no competing religion, no alternative viewpoint, at all in this world.

Our hero, Nimue, wakes up a few centuries later to discover she's been embodies as an almost indestructible robot by rebels who want the human race to be freed of Langhorne's restrictions and take the fight back to the aliens. By now, the world is circa 16th century Earth, with sailing ships and all the rest, and it lets Weber do his Napoleonic Wars thing all over again.

It is very silly; we're expected to buy that Nimue's influence has the world going from the Battle of Cape Celidonia (1616) at the end of the first book to Appotmattox (1865) at the end of the 8th book in less than ten years.

But one thing really bothers me: to map our history to his setting, we have secular rulers who are secular rulers first. While it's unthinkable that anyone would defy The Church, and the absolute Truth of the Church is unshakable to 99% of the world, the kings and princes act as if they're just church believers like anyone else, and their duty to their kingdoms starts and stops with keeping the people alive and healthy. The church is separate from the state. There's even a republic in this world, with elections!

Which is ridiculous. Langhorne and his cronies, the "Archangels" who set up this world, knew better. In a society like this, the monarch's reign is acknowledged by the church, and would be believed "Blessed by God," and given the duty above all else of the corporate "preservation" of the nation, accountable not to The Church, but to God himself.

There would be no republic, because a republic requires republicans, leaders accountable to the people and their petty wants, rather than to God. Schism would be far harder. The excuse that our England-analogue is "on the other side of the planets, months away by sea" and therefore harder to oversee isn't credible; the Langhorne's Church not only failed in its duty in this generation, it failed in all its generations, from the first when the Archangels were around, to the present.

That's just one of many problems with the series, but it's the most subtle and yet, the most glaring.

Still, the series does swash and buckle nicely, if you're into that sort of thing.

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Current Mood: amused amused

2 comments or Leave a comment
adam_0oo From: adam_0oo Date: May 27th, 2016 02:11 pm (UTC) (Link)

I read this recently as well, and love reading sometime who had a completely different problem  with it than I did.

My main issue was the lack of female characters. I felt like I went hundreds of pages at a time before a female character was mentioned, much less had a line.

And I dint count the main character as female, as she is in a man's body and almost never is written any differently than any male.

resonant From: resonant Date: May 28th, 2016 03:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really think Weber needs a strict editor.
2 comments or Leave a comment