By Schism Rent Asunder

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By Schism Rent Asunder
By Schism Rent Asunder cover.jpg
Author David Weber
Cover artist Stephen Youll
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science fiction
Publisher Tor Books
Publication date
July 2008
Media type Print (hardback)
Pages 512
ISBN 978-0-7653-1501-4
OCLC 184823014
813/.54 22
LC Class PS3573.E217 B9 2008
Preceded by Off Armageddon Reef
Followed by By Heresies Distressed

By Schism Rent Asunder is a science fiction book written by David Weber. It is the second book in the open-ended Safehold series, after Off Armageddon Reef. The publication date was July 22, 2008.[1] The third book in the series is named By Heresies Distressed[2][3]

Plot summary[edit]

Nimue Alban, known to the people of the planet Safehold as "Merlin Athrawes", has been very busy. Over the course of several months, Nimue has continually steered the Kingdom of Charis towards confrontation with Safehold's all-powerful Church of God Awaiting. The combined duties of being the guardian and adviser of Charis' King Cayleb, as well as the source of Charis' rapid advancements in military technology, are tiring for even an android. Her only escape is space, somewhere nobody else on Safehold can follow her. Meanwhile, she is forced to remain concerned about the very same kinetic bombardment platform that killed her mentor Pei Shan-Wei and most of her supporters after the Church's founder Eric Langhorne used it to destroy her Alexandria enclave.

Planetside, the Kingdom of Charis has been emboldened by its devastating naval victory over the forces sent to destroy it by the Church. Archbishop Mikael Staynair of Charis, who has become the effective Martin Luther of Safehold, declares a schism between the Church of God Awaiting and his see on Charis, accusing the "Group of Four" which controls the Church of being responsible for the massive sneak attack that was launched on Charis during the events of Off Armageddon Reef. King Cayleb, who has ascended to the throne following his father's death in the attack, is locked in a desperate struggle with the Church. The Charisian Navy, which now essentially rules the seas of Safehold, extensively disrupts international commerce and communication with swift and well armed privateer fleets.

Meanwhile, the Group of Four set plans into motion to build a force capable of challenging Charis, and in the meantime to attack the Kingdom in any way possible. They order the brutal public execution of the previous Archbishop of Charis, Erayk Dynnis, although things do not exactly go as planned, and they suffer a setback after Dynnis bravely publicly denounces them before his death. They also declare that Cayleb and Staynair are apostates and enemies of God, which creates domestic problems for Cayleb. Merlin barely manages to prevent the assassination of Archbishop Staynair at the hands of Charisian Church loyalists, who also burn the Royal College. The Group of Four urge all of the nations loyal to the Church to close their ports to Charisian shipping in an attempt to attack Charis via economic means. In the nearby Kingdom of Delferahk, the Church's Office of Inquisition is resisted by Charisian merchants as it attempts to seize docked vessels. The ensuing massacre by the Inquisition pushes Safehold to brink of Holy War.

Cayleb, on the advice of Merlin, decides to try to become allies with whomever possible to prepare for the inevitable conflict. This proves to be a very difficult task, as most of the nations of Safehold have aligned with the Church. He sends his Prime Minister Earl Grey Harbor to the Kingdom of Chisholm, which had very reluctantly complied with the Church's demand to attack Charis in the previous book. Originally expecting the Prime Minister to merely seek to restore relations, Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm is shocked when Grey Harbor instead proposes a political marriage between her and Cayleb. Knowing that Chisholm will inevitably be the Church's next target if Charis is defeated, she accepts.

Despite her best efforts, Nimue's true nature is eventually uncovered, although in a favorable way. One day, during a private meeting, Staynair reveals himself to be part of a secret Order which has uncovered irrefutable proof of humanity's true history. It is revealed that King Haarahld was a member of this group, as were most of his ancestors, and that he had made it his goal to model Charisian society on the principles of the past, and eventually reveal the truth to the world. The decision is made to inform Cayleb of the truth, as Haarahld had died before he could do so. The members of the Order agree to keep the number of people who are aware of the truth as low as possible. Merlin reluctantly agrees to exclude Cayleb's Head of Government Earl Gray Harbor, and even Queen Sharleyan herself, in order to ensure that the secret of humanity's true history is kept until the people of Safehold are ready.

Cayleb decides to exact retribution on the Kingdom of Delferahk. A large Charisian fleet sails to the Kingdom's largest port and site of the massacre, where it quickly reduces all coastal defenses to rubble and lands a large force of Charisian marines. The city's defenders surrender and by Charisian order evacuate before the commander of the invasion burns a full third of the town to the ground. The precise fate of Delferahk is left unknown.

Sharleyan arrives in Charis for the wedding, and by chance, she and Cayleb end up falling in love. They decide to combine their two kingdoms into a new Empire of Charis, with both of them ruling over Charis and Chisholm together. Cayleb also reaches out to his father's archenemy, Prince Nahrmahn of Emerald, offering him very fair terms of surrender and even betrothing Cayleb's younger brother to Nahrmahn's daughter and making Nahrmahn his Master of Espionage. Cayleb and Sharleyan decide that the nearby League of Corisande, a longtime enemy of Charis, will also need to be subjugated before it can be reinforced with Church support. Unlike Nahrmahn, Corsiande's Prince Hektor will not go down without a fight. Shortly after he and Sharleyan are married, Cayleb assembles an armada and a force of almost 50,000 Charisian Marines. Sharleyan is left to rule Charis in Cayleb's stead as the fleet, led by Cayleb and Merlin, embarks to Chisholm, where it will combine with forces there to stage a massive invasion of the League of Corisande.

Audiobook (Book on CD)[edit]

(The reader was switched to Jason Culp for both By Heresies Distressed and A Mighty Fortress.)



It seems[4] that the title of both By Schism Rent Asunder and By Heresies Distressed come from lines in the Hymn The Church's One Foundation.

  • "By Schism Rent Asunder." Publishers Weekly 255.18 (5 May 2008): 50-50.
  • Green, Roland. "By Schism Rent Asunder." Booklist 104.18 (15 May 2008): 29.
  • Cassada, Jackie. "By Schism Rent Asunder." Library Journal 133.11 (15 June 2008): 60-60.


  1. ^ MacMillan preorder solicitation page
  2. ^ " interview with David Weber". Sci Fi Weekly. Sci Fi. May 7, 2007. Archived from the original on January 29, 2008. 
  3. ^
  4. ^

External links[edit]