There’s an obvious joke or three to make here about being distressed by David Weber, but he doesn’t really deserve them. The fact is, I continue to like his Safehold series, even if it is pretty predictable at this point. Like I mentioned last time, Weber is serving up a recipe that is tried and true, and despite being well known and familiar it still tastes pretty good.
I understand that that may not be very much to recommend a story. I’m not trying to damn him with faint praise, but I do wish that there could be a little something more that came out of this story. By Schism Rent Asunder looked like it was changing up the rhythm of the series for the purpose of kicking the next books into higher gear, but if anything it looks like Weber has tightened his focus down even more for By Heresies Distressed and left us without quite as much in the way of building tension as it would be nice to have.
There certainly are dangerous things lurking in wait for our heroes, and I expect that it will be fun to read about them in the upcoming books. But for the most part they have not shown up in sufficient quantity or severity to provide the heroes with more than gentle stumbling blocks. It feels almost as though the appeal and tension of the story have plateaued, and there aren’t enough interesting things going on with the characters’ internal lives for me to remain fully occupied while I work my way through the next book. Or, as my brother so clearly put it with a question, “Why did I just read all those words?”
There’s something very satisfying about this sort of story, and I can see why I keep coming back to this and why I will read the next book, but there’s a moment where I wonder just what it is that pulls me back in. I already know a good deal of what is coming, and I can usually guess the next step in the story’s arc in any given chapter. There’s plenty of good fun to be had here, but I suggest that you be willing to embrace the relative predictability of the story and don’t try to outthink the story itself. It’s far more fun to delight in the asymmetrical technological conflicts presented and root for the underdogs than it is to try to push for something deeply meaningful out of this.
And, of course, if I hadn’t read this style of story so often before I wouldn’t find it so predictable so quickly, now would I? I am a victim of my own enthusiasm.