• How Firm a Foundation

  • Safehold Series, Book 5
  • By: David Weber
  • Narrated by: Charles Keating
  • Length: 28 hrs and 23 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (1,937 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Charisian Empire, born in war, has always known it must fight for its very survival. What most of its subjects don’t know even now, however, is how much more it’s fighting for. Emperor Cayleb, Empress Sharleyan, Merlin Athrawes, and their innermost circle of most trusted advisers do know. And because they do, they know the penalty if they lose will be far worse than their own deaths and the destruction of all they know and love.

For five years, Charis has survived all the Church of God Awaiting and the corrupt men who control it have thrown at the island empire. The price has been high and paid in blood. Despite its chain of hard-fought naval victories, Charis is still on the defensive. It can hold its own at sea, but if it is to survive, it must defeat the Church upon its own ground. Yet how does it invade the mainland and take the war to a foe whose population outnumbers its own 15 to one? How does it prevent that massive opponent from rebuilding its fleets and attacking yet again?

Charis has no answer to those questions, but needs to find one… quickly. The Inquisition’s brutal torture and hideous executions are claiming more and more innocent lives. Its agents are fomenting rebellion against the only mainland realms sympathetic to Charis. Religious terrorists have been dispatched to wreak havoc against the Empire’s subjects. Assassins stalk the Emperor and Empress, their allies and advisers, and an innocent young boy, not yet 11 years old, whose father has already been murdered. And Merlin Athrawes, the cybernetic avatar of a young woman a thousand years dead, has finally learned what sleeps beneath the far-off Temple in the Church of God Awaiting’s city of Zion.

The men and women fighting for human freedom and tolerance have built a foundation for their struggle in the Empire of Charis with their own blood, but will that foundation be firm enough to survive?

Listen to more in the Safehold series.
©2011 David Weber (P)2011 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about How Firm a Foundation

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Weber delivers despite weak narration

Book: How Firm a Foundation follows in Weber's tradition of detailed scenes and completeness of back-story. That makes for some very exhaustive descriptions, which can understandably cause some readers/listeners eyes to glaze over a bit. For myself, that richness of detail and insight to the thoughts and minds of the characters is a signature of Weber's writing; Safehold would not be the same without it. That being said, this is also a middle book in a series, and if realism demands a bit of 'hurry-up and wait', just as real life does, this book has more of the waiting.

Production: When I heard to first words of the book read, I was wary of the new narrator, for good reason. With every reintroduction of a character from the previous books I am wracking my brain for alternative pronunciations to make the connection. None of the blame is to be laid at Keating's feet however; it is the responsibility of the producer to check pronunciation for consistency and correctness, not the performer. The producer continues to fall down on the job as Keating varies his pronunciations of names and places throughout the performance. While I do enjoy listening to Keating read, I believe he would be more well received in this series as a co-narrator, as he does not impart a unique voice to each of the large cast of characters, nor does he do justice to the depth of emotions expressed by those characters.

Overall: I have enjoyed another tale of Safehold, but have been sorely disappointed in the production company: to change narrators, a second time; their choice of narrators for this production; the lack of attention to consistency throughout both the series and this installment.

42 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Annoying Performance

I am so very disappointed with Mr. Keating's reading that I am probably going to discontinue listening and spend an additional 15 bucks for a copy from Amazon.

Mr. Keating's name and place pronunciations really annoy me after having listened to the other 4 books in the series. Both Mr. Culp and Mr. Wyman give far superior performances. Mr. Keating may be a fine narrator (I???ve not heard any of his other performances) but he was absolutely the wrong choice to bring in at this time.

42 people found this helpful

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You've Got to be Kidding Me

1. Fifteen dollars for hardbound on Amazon. Fifteen dollars for Kindle. Two Credits or 36 dollars on Audible. Why? Is it twice as good?
2. Charles Keating is the narrator??? He's a great reader but has no concept of oral interpretation. No real attempt at accents to differentiate the multitude of characters. Why not Culp or better yet, Oliver Wyman again. I'm hooked on the series and bought it, besides, I've been keeping up with the snippets on DW's website but there is a sour taste about the whole thing.

30 people found this helpful

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Great story...but the narrator Oy!

I love the Safehold series with the exception that they can't seem to keep a consistant narrator! This current narrator makes me feel like I'm going to fall asleep!

26 people found this helpful

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Great Book, Not impressed with Narrator

The series and the book are great, but I'm going to have to give in Keating a 2 star rating for his performance - the previous narrators were MUCH better.

24 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great Book, poor narration

My expectations of the book have been meant, but the performance was not what I had grown accustom too. Thus the poor rating of the performance. This book, and the series has so many strengths that are easily magnified in a great performance by the narrators in the previous books. This one is not at the same level, thus making it more difficult to get through the book initially before the action started. In no way am I down playing the authors writing, the book is superb as usual, its just the performance that has upset me. The Narrator has a wonderful voice, but the lack of inflection changes, phrasing , and other things, I had grown use to and enjoyed, are not there. I think he does a great job with the elder characters, but there is no change of substance between any of the others at all.

18 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Plodding along...

I like this story, but I getting the feeling that its slowly grinding to a halt. Its mentioned in the book about 20 years are left before a big event. Well, reading this has me feeling 20 years will elapse before we get to a point. And what of the protagonist? Almost no Nimue / Merlin. I understand other character development is important but, where is the protagonists actions? Surely playing guard isn't the sum of a "superior" beings involvement.

As for the performance, Mr. Keating has proven he can read, I will give him that. But did he even listen to the other books in the series? I can live with the change in character accents, barely. But his name pronunciation SUCKS! Or more to the point, it doesn't even match the other books!

15 people found this helpful

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Wong Narrator For This Book

Please bring back Oliver Wyman! This narrator makes me feel like im sitting in an old study being read a dusty old book of english literature, not a contemporary science fiction military drama. Wyman had the characters down cold. this reading makes me drift off. While the story is still there the performance makes it feel utterly flat and uninteresting. Im sure this narrator is well suited to other stories, he has a great voice. But this is material for Wyman or someone similar.

14 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Awesome Story, Horrible Narrator

What did you like about this audiobook?

I love all of Mr Weber's book. I love the idea that in the next book there maybe more Seijins. I would really love to see a woman maybe with Nimue Alban's appearance. I do love a strong woman character.

How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

I just love learning, I really love the way the book layes out the evolution of objects. For example the pistol, Mr. Weber does a great job of explaining how the evolution of the pistol happen.

He does the same with ships. I can really see why one innovation affects and forces innovation on another object. Example why the cannon and exploding shells for the innovation of metal ship.

Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

I like to think i have a logical mind, and i love love love to learn new things, but even more then that i love to know why things work and the way they do. The author is one of the best people i have every heard in the way of explaining concepts without a visual aid.

What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

OK this is the only thing i hated about this book, the narrator this Charles Keating is so monotone, in all the other book the narrators have inflection and emotion in there voice. If something exciting is happening the voice reflects that, if the character is mad the narrator sounds mad. This guy Charles Keating did not have any of that, i could not tell one character from another they all sound alike, and i could never get excited or into any part of the book because he was so flat.

I would say i maybe a bet bias because I like the guy that started off the series so much more, and I am really in my head comparing the two. But I really think i would fell the same way no matter what book this guy reads. I do not normally give bad reviews of book but i could let this go unsaid. I love David Weber's book but if this would have been the first one I ever read I more then likely would never read another one.

The Narrator reminded me of my College British Literature Professor that use to put me to sleep.

Do you have any additional comments?

the only reason i did not give this book 5 stars is because of the narrator. I feel bad for not giving a prefect grade to a author as talented as David Weber.

13 people found this helpful

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Enough Already

I am a devoted Weber-phile and have bought all of his books both in Hardcover and here on Audible. I even bought Out of the Dark which was awful. Here is why I said enough, This series has consumed 5 Books, 3000 pages, 150 hours of Audible, and it feels like we may be 1/2 way to the end. Enough already, it's time to end it. Also the current Narrator, Mr. Keating added nothing to the story, He obviously did not listen to the previous books and it showed in the continuity of the narration.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Ronster
  • 08-06-21

Get the narrator an oxygen tank please

Addicted to the story, so I will see it through - on the basis that this is thankfully the ONLY book in the series narrated by Mr Keating.

But honestly ... the guy sounds so incredibly short of breath (and belaboured and dreary) that one might be forgiven for thinking he had Covid-19 ... back in the day when this book was recorded.

Very. Painful.

1 person found this helpful

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  • blackcrow
  • 02-09-20

Ruined by the boring narration

I was really enjoying this series and I managed to adapt to the first change of narrator as even though the accents changed the book was still performed well. But this narrator (because he certainly doesn't perform) makes everyone sound like a 70 year old grumpy old man (even the women). And he has one tone... boring... tedious... flat. I'm really sorry but my honest advice to you is get this book to read and go back to listening when the reader changes. I'm really struggling to listen without him sending me to sleep. I realise the author won't read this nor will the publishers... but for those of us who listen to our books rather than read them and sometimes binge listen, some kind of consistency through the audible books would be great. I know you might not be able to get the same voice for every book but surely they could use the same accents? This reader manged to transform the young, twenty something, emperor and empress into stodgy slow witted sounding dolts. Honestly he didn't even pronounce everyone's name the same as all the previous books.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Shaun
  • 07-14-17

Amazballz!

An amazing addition to the series, with twists, turns and nail biting events! Narrator has a very poor range though, so that was sad

1 person found this helpful

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  • Belinda
  • 08-23-22

Great story with one issue

The sound drops off for about 15 seconds near the end 10 min or so from the end. Only for about 10-15 sec. Nothing important is said, but it's annoying none the less.

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