Weber is the bestselling author of the Honor Harrington series, perhaps a dozen other series or more, and numerous other novels and anthologies – I lost count after reaching forty-seven published books ranging in genres from epic fantasy to military science fiction.
His name ranks among the highest in the science fiction genre, alongside the
likes of Heinlein and Asimov. His publisher, Tor, has been voted number one in the Science Fiction Publisher category in the Locus Readers Poll for twenty years in a row - no small accomplishment itself.
In Off Armageddon Reef,
the mechanical female Nimue is wakened from a deep sleep and presented the option to take on the gravest of all missions: saving mankind from their programmed conditions. She finds a civilization with a distorted religious view that does not involve free choice, and she discovers emotions she didn’t know she could have about her parents, her loved ones, her loss, and also
about the weight of the responsibility she has chosen to shoulder. Genuine military heroes
she knew and worked beside hundreds of years ago are somehow seen as sinister, evil people in this time, and this weighs heavy in her mind. As a master tactician, she takes the time to study the current situation,
carefully examining each possible step she might take to create a wake of change in the society. Changing her identity completely, she becomes a man and finds a way to become close to the royal family where, acting as a counselor and protector, she enables the country to take on the world
- a world dominated by an ominous religion. While some readers may see this as an attack against organized religion, it is my interpretation that the author is showing the danger
of using any belief structure to manipulate and coerce a society. There are many belief structures in this fictional society, ranging from women’s rights to stepping up and being proactive in life.
Nimue takes the name "Merlin", showing her humorous side and her extensive knowledge of human history. Other obvious Arthurian connections will appear to the reader in the sword, his prodigy – Cayleb Ahrmahk, the Crown Prince of Charis
- and other subtle and not-so-subtle connections.
Weber’s exceptional complex world-building skills make it so easy for the reader to just slip into the novel and let the real-world fade away without hesitation.
Some sections, however, are so long and drawn out that I wanted to skip through them, and the ending
is a bit abrupt – certainly leaving room for a second book. I was a little disappointed that the Ghaba did not reappear,
but the concept of the Sejin was just too cool.
Four pages of detailed maps designed by Ellisa Mitchell preface the novel,
and the interesting paperback cover design was created by Stephen Youll. Off Armageddon Reef was printed in the US, which means fewer fuel fossil fuels were spent in transport for North American readers.
There is no way to rate a book higher than 5 out of 5 stars, but if I could, I would. This is one book that deserves to be read again and again.