Like a Mighty Army
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|Cover artist||Stephen Youll|
|February 18, 2014|
|Preceded by||Midst Toil and Tribulation|
|Followed by||Hell's Foundations Quiver|
Like a Mighty Army is the seventh book in the Safehold science fiction novel series by David Weber and published by Tor Books on February 18, 2014. The title comes from the third stanza of the hymn "Onward, Christian Soldiers".
Picking up immediately after the events of Midst Toil and Tribulation, the church's forces in northern Siddarmark are immobilized due to Charis' "Great Canal Raid", which hamstrung its logistical support. Hoping to still push through from the South, Bishop Militant Cahnyr Kaitswyrth is ordered by Zhaspahr Clyntahn, the Grand Inquisitor, to advance with his 150,000 soldiers against Duke Eastshare's firmly entrenched position along the Daivyn River. Despite their numerical advantage, the church's forces are thrown back, thanks to new Charisian innovations, such as the breech-loading rifles and cannons, ghillie suits, claymore mines, signal rockets, and illumination flares. Afterwards, Eastshare goes on the offensive and pushes the church's forces even further to the west. Further to the south, the Dohlaran and Desnarian troops march towards Earl Hanth and his forces in Thesmar hoping to eliminate it as a threat to their supply lines as they march north. Despite the reservations of Rainos Ahlverez, the commander of the Dohlaran forces, the attack proceeds and fails completely thanks to the gross incompetence and arrogance of the Desnarian Army's commander, Duke Harless, all of which increases the tension between the commanders of the two armies (who weren't comfortable allies to begin with). Spurred by Eastshare's success and the knowledge that Siddarmarkian and Charisian reinforcements are on their way, Baron Green Valley takes most of his troops north to the disputed Midhold Province and manages to eliminate the Temple Loyalist troops there and seize the canals intact. Green Valley's new position poses a threat to Bishop Militant Bahrnabai Wyrshym who is stuck defending the Sylmahn Gap, though he (mistakenly) believes that Charis won't continue military operations in the winter.
In Corisande, Princess Irys and Prince Daivyn finally return home after their years of exile, with Irys' new fiance, Hektor Aplyn-Ahrmahk. Thanks to the unexpected and vehement support of Klairmant Gairlyng, the Archbishop of Corisande, ratification of the new peace treaty with Charis passes with overwhelming support of the House of Commons and a large majority of the House of Lords. The coronation of Prince Daivyn is then set for 22 October with Irys' wedding scheduled for two days after that. Archbishop Maikel then arrives in Manchyr to participate in the wedding while Empress Sharleyan arrives soon after to accept Prince Daivyn's oath of fealty to the Empire. However, shortly after the wedding ceremony, one of Clyntahn's "Rakurai" terrorists detonates a bomb in Cathedral Square, killing well over 200 people and critically injuring Hektor Aplyn-Ahrmahk, who shielded his new wife from the explosion. Merlin races to Manchyr on a recon skimmer and uses advanced Terran Federation medicine to save Hektor's life to Irys' astonishment, thus forcing their initiation into the Inner Circle. In discussing the attack and the possibility that Clyntahn would attempt another assassination to engineer a break between Charis and Corisande, Prince Nahrmahn (living in his virtual environment) reveals that they now have the capability to create one other PICA like Merlin thanks to some virtual R&D he and OWL conducted. However, the only personality available to them is a back up of the original Nimue Alban stored away centuries ago. Merlin authorizes OWL to build a PICA with that personality and as a result Nimue Chwaeriau is "born" and, after explaining to her the nature of their mission on Safehold, is sent off to Manchyr to protect Irys, Daivyn and Hektor.
In the Temple, the Temple Lands and Dohlar, the church is desperately trying to adapt to the constant stream of innovations and new weaponry that Charis is introducing while seeking ways to pay for the ever mounting costs of the Holy War. A considerable degree of progress is made in equipping and training the Harchongese Army to the new military standards over the winter while Clyntahn's agents in Siddar City manage to steal classified information on the Charisian manufactory techniques being introduced in Siddarmark, including the steam engine. In an effort to repair the canals and locks damaged and destroyed in the Great Canal Raid the Temple Loyalists use slave labor from the various concentration camps the Inquisition has established in the rear to "weed out heresy". The Inquisition commits further atrocities in the town of Sarkyn, where an accidental gunpowder explosion in a central canal lock prompts the Inquisition to decimate the nearby town's inhabitants seeking out the "saboteurs". In response to this, Merlin seeks out and kills Hahskyll Seegairs and Vyktyr Tahrlsahn, the two inquisitors involved in this incident along with their security escorts and any temple guardsman and functionary who took part. He attaches a letter to Tahrlshan's dead body that is addressed to Zhaspahr Clyntahn and signed "Dialydd Mab" ("avenging son" in Welsh), a letter that infuriates the Grand Inquisitor.
In the West, Merlin, masquerading as Ahbraim Zhevons, notifies Eastshare that the Dohlarans are joining up with the Desnarians (rather than the Army of God) and are likely to head towards Fort Tairys. The Duke then decides to take most of his forces there and seizes Fort Tairys. Merlin, disguised in yet another persona, conducts a campaign of disinformation directed at Ahlverez and Harless, making them believe that some of Fort Tairys' defenders managed to escape the Charisians and are rallying support in the Shiloh Province against them (when really none of the defenders escaped). They commit to besieging the fort from the South believing that the Charisian's supply situation is even worse than theirs. After fierce fighting in the Kyplyngyr Forest between the two armies, Rainos Ahlverez councils a withdrawal south to resupply as the army is on its last logistical legs. He is overruled by Harless and his fellow Desnarians who see this suggestion as nothing less than cowardice. Rainos, already fed up with the ineptitude and arrogance of the Desnarians, unilaterally orders most of his Dohlaran forces to withdraw to the South and fully expects to be condemned by the Desnarians and the church. Before this can happen however, a courier arrives to report that the Charisians have struck several of the towns west of them, cutting off the Desnarians and Dohlarans most immediate supply route. Hearing this news Harless suffers a fatal heart attack.
In the aftermath, over 90% of the Desnarian army is either killed, wounded or surrenders, (though a handful of Desnarian nobles manage to escape to the Church's forces along the Daivyn River) while a sizable chunk of the Dohlaran army manages to escape south though they are likely to be pursued by the Charisian reinforcement that arrived in Thesmar and took out the southern logistical system. It becomes clear to Merlin and the Inner Circle that the tide has turned in Charis' favor and that the Church of God Awaiting will soon have no choice but to sue for peace terms. In the book's coda, Merlin is surprised by Aivah Pahrsahns in his quarters, who asks him to take her, at some point in the future, to Zion for a day or so. She then calls him "Ahbraim" (indicating that she knows they are the same person).
- "Like a Mighty Army: David Weber: 9780765321565: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2014-01-25.