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Farm-Fresh balance.pngYMMVTransmit blue.pngRadarWikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotes • (Emoticon happy.pngFunnyHeart.pngHeartwarmingSilk award star gold 3.pngAwesome) • Refridgerator.pngFridgeGroup.pngCharactersScript edit.pngFanfic RecsSkull0.pngNightmare FuelRsz 1rsz 2rsz 1shout-out icon.pngShout OutMagnifier.pngPlotGota icono.pngTear JerkerBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersHelp.pngTriviaWMGFilmRoll-small.pngRecapRainbow.pngHo YayPhoto link.pngImage LinksNyan-Cat-Original.pngMemesHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconicLibrary science symbol .svg SourceSetting
"Earth is dead. Humanity is hiding. Invention, Progress, Change... are all forbidden. It's time to change all that."
—Tagline from Off Armageddon Reef

When a spacefaring humanity discovered evidence that a hostile alien race was likely to try and annihilate them, they spent the next ten years preparing for the inevitable battle.

It wasn't enough.

After fighting a losing war for 40 years and in the face of extinction, the human race played a last desperate gamble. They secreted a fleet away to terraform and colonize a new homeworld and prepare for Round Two. To remain hidden long enough to make sure the Gbaba wouldn't find them, those in charge of Operation Ark decided that on this new world, humanity would abandon its technology so the Gbaba couldn't track them down by their emissions.

That's when the real trouble began.

Eric Langhorne and Adorée Bédard, the Chief Administrator and Psychiatrist of Operation Ark, felt that it was humanity's technological hubris that had led to their destruction. In order to preserve humanity and prevent them from ever reinventing advanced technology, Langhorne and Bédard secretly brainwashed all of the colonists into thinking that they were created and placed upon the world of Safehold by God, with Langhorne, Bédard, and the rest of the Operation Ark command crew named as Archangels and executors of God's will in the gospel of the Church of God Awaiting—a gospel which prescribes the most horrific punishments for innovation and invention.

Outraged at the way the original mission plan had been ignored, Pei Shan-wei, Operation Ark's senior terraformer, rebelled against Langhorne, setting up her own colony and adhering to their original orders. However, Langhorne had grown accustomed to being worshipped as a demigod and couldn't afford the truth to get out, and so on his orders, Shan-wei and all her allies and chosen colonists were killed and branded as demons; Shan-wei herself became the local equivalent of Satan.

But Shan-wei and her allies had feared something like this from the beginning, and laid their plans carefully. At the core of their plans is Nimue Alban. Originally a soldier who died in the war with the Gbaba, she has been resurrected via the robotic body of a Personality-Integrated Cybernetic Avatar. After emerging from a long sleep, Nimue, under the identity of Merlin Athrawes, has begun to steer Safehold's medieval culture in general, and the kingdom of Charis in particular, slowly but surely towards the improvements it needs to survive—improvements the Church of God Awaiting strictly prohibits.

The Safehold series by David Weber consists of five books to date. Off Armageddon Reef, By Schism Rent Asunder, By Heresies Distressed, A Mighty Fortress, and the most recent, How Firm a Foundation, released on September 13, 2011. Upcoming on September 18, 2012 is Midst Toil and Tribulation.

Has a Wiki all its own, and a Character Sheet that Needs More Love

This series features examples of:

  • Absolute Xenophobe: The Gbaba instinctively try to kill any other sentient species they find. It's possible that they do everything instinctively, and have stopped being sentient themselves.
  • Accidental Truth: Clyntahn and the rest of the group of four claim that Charis's schism with the church as the result of a long term plan by Shan-wei worshipers in Charis to subvert the authority of the Church of God Awaiting. One guess what the Charisian leaderships long term plan is, and who they really revere.
  • A God Am I: Langhorne, Bédard, and their fellow "Archangels."
  • After the End: Every other human world except Safehold is presumed destroyed.
  • Ancient Tradition: The Brotherhood of St. Zherneau's
  • Anti-Mutiny: Shan-wei's goal before Langhorne killed her.
  • Anti-Villain: Vicar Rhobair Duchairn starts becoming this early in By Schism Rent Asunder after he starts to rediscover his faith. Though still a member of the Group of Four and still committed to the war against Charis, by By Heresies Distressed he has grown enough to warn the Wylsynns that Clyntahn must have found out about their secret organization. At the end of A Mighty Fortress, he's a full Anti-Villain. The only reason he's not moving openly against the other members of the Group of Four now is that he knows he wouldn't accomplish anything but becoming one more victim of the Inquisition without building a new political power base. And he's using his position as the Church's treasurer to make sure the Church run hospitals, soup kitchens, orphanages, and schools are fully funded to take care of those affected by the war and trying to become a Good Shepherd in general.
    • Earl Thirsk is a Worthy Opponent motivated by genuine belief in God and the Archangels, and is disgusted at many of his allies' tactics.
  • Badass Beard: Cayleb grows one in By Heresies Distressed.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Rhobair Duchairn in A Mighty Fortress.

  So maybe what he really wants me to do is to stop trying so hard, stop being so arrogant as to think I can somehow fix a disaster on a worldwide scale. Maybe He wants me to finally accept that I need to let Him show me what do do, and then--

  • Believing Their Own Lies: Pei Kau-Yung feared this was happening to Langhorne and the other "Archangels."
    • Frequently remarked as one of the single-most dangerous traits of Zhaspahr Clyntahn.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: Some of Clyntahn's potential targets did this in A Mighty Fortress. Hauwerd Wylsynn forced this on his brother before committing Suicide by Cop.
    • Gwylym Manthyr kills one of his young midshipmen, rather than see the boy tortured in front of him and then executed in public. Also doubles as an extreme tearjerker.
  • Blessed with Suck: How Nimue/Merlin views her/his condition. He's superhuman and immortal, but lonely and faced with considerable self-doubt over how much he counts as a person and who he really is.
  • Brain Uploading: Nimue's personality and memories until just before Operation Ark are implanted in her PICA.
  • Call a Smeerp a Rabbit: Many local Safehold animals are named after mythical creatures from Earth.
  • Catch Phrase: "One tries."
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Grand Duke Zebediah
  • Church Militant: The Order of Schueler.
  • Complete Monster: Zhaspar Clyntahn
  • Corrupt Church: The present day Church of God Awaiting
  • Crazy Prepared: Madame Ahnzhelyk plans ahead - with a vengeance.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome: Off Armageddon Reef: The newly advanced Charisian Navy proceeding to utterly curb stomp the combined naval might of the entire world.
    • When Merlin kills a kraken (think twenty foot long shark with tentacles) that was attacking a boat with a harpoon from seventy yards away, then proceeds to jump in the water and gut the remaining two with his sword.
    • By Schism Rent Asunder: Maikel Staynair's going up and giving a sermon moments after a failed attempt on his life occurred right there in the church.
    • By Heresies Distressed: The last stand of Sharleyan's Imperial Guard.
    • A Mighty Fortress: Hauwerd Wylsynn's last stand against the Inquisitors and Temple Guards Clyntahn sent to arrest him.
      • The Battle of the Gulf of Tarot.
    • How Firm A Foundation: Sharlayan's been shot in the chest, had a large and heavily armoured man vigorously bodyblock her to the floor and dropped her crown so she orders everyone to calm down and continues the morning's business.
  • Crowning Moment of Funny: The Raging Stiffie incident in book one, followed-up in book two by Cayleb's reaction after learning the meaning behind it.
    • Cayleb and Sharleyan's first face-to-face meeting, where they try (and fail badly) to not think like lovestruck teenagers.
    • From By Heresies Distressed "All right boys, they wrecked my hat and that pisses me off!"
    • From A Mighty Fortress, the friendly rivalry between the Empire's twin capitals of Tellesberg and Cherayth, in which Tellesberg gloats that Cayleb and Sharleyan's child will be born in Old Charis (Take that Cherayth!) while Cherayth gloats that the child was conceived in Chisholm.
  • Curb Stomp Battle: The final battles of Off Armageddon Reef.
    • Any swordfight involving Merlin.
    • Merlin... versus alien squid-sharks!
    • Pretty much the entire invasion of Corisande, which takes up most of By Heresies Distressed.
  • Defiant to the End: Surprisingly, Erayk Dynnys, combined with Doomed Moral Victor and a Facing The Bullets Final Speech.
    • Hauwerd Wylsynn's Crowning Moment of Awesome.
    • Gwylym Manthyr gets to spit in Clyntahn's face before being put to the Punishment of Schueler. Also a Dying Moment of Awesome.
  • Distaff Counterpart: The Sisterhood of Saint Evahlyn to the Brotherhood of Saint Zherneau
  • Doorstopper: They're thick, alright.
  • Double Agent: Rhobair Seablanket. Book 4 reveals that he's an agent of the Inquisition. Book 5 reveals that he was planted in the Inquisition by Prince Hektor, having a very valid personal grudge against the Church.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: King Haarahld's defense of Young Aplyn.
    • Soldier-turned-devout-priest Hauwerd Wylsynn doesn't give the Inquisition a chance to haul information out of him through torture, so he instead chooses to die. He takes at least four armed and armored soldiers with him.

 "Oh, fuck you, Kahrnaikys! You always were a prick! And fuck Clyntahn, too!"

    • As mentioned above, in How Firm a Foundation: Gwylym Manthyr is the last to be tortured to death on a rack, and his voice has been taken by months of Cold-Blooded Torture. So when Grand Inquisitor Zhaspahr Clyntahn performs his 'cow the heretic' act before the crowd, knowing Manthyr can't speak, Manthyr finds a way. And as he dies, he gets to savor the look on the Grand Inquisitors face.
  • The Eeyore: Rhobair Seablanket, Earl Coris' valet of course, that could just be the face he presents to keep Coris from suspecting that Seablanket is really one of the Inquisition's agents
  • The Empire: Inverted when the countries of Charis and Chisholm form an empire in By Schism Rent Asunder
    • Played straight by Harchong, which has a terrible reputation for how it treats serfs.
  • Enhance Button: Merlin mentions in book 5 that Owl doesn't have enough processing power to watch everything, so Owl just stores away the raw images (which don't show individuals) and enhances them later once they need more detail.
  • Epic Fail: The Church of God Awaiting's attack on Charis in book one. Mind you, they had no way of accounting for Merlin's satellite recon abilities, and little of accounting for the new artillery, but the people planning the thing didn't even understand how naval warfare normally worked, and didn't account for the weather, the limitations of ships designed for coastal waters, and the effects of wear and tear on the ships.
  • Eternal English: Averted. Nimue has to learn Safeholdian English before she can venture out among them. Also, many names have changed in spelling and/or pronunciation over the near millennium of Safehold's history.
  • Exponential Plot Delay: Seems to be heading this way as of the fourth book, thanks to the cast list increasing faster than characters are killed off. Even major characters like Nahrman can go hundreds of pages without an appearance.
  • Expy: The entire planet of Safehold is one for the planet Pardal from the third book of Weber's Empire From the Ashes series, written 11 years earlier. A technophobe theocracy that rules over many small, divided kingdoms? Check. Engineered to hide from a threat which nearly wiped out humanity? Check. Treats its precursors as angels or demons? Check. Holds itself together by a communication advantage via semaphore towers, acting as the world's creditor with money from tithes, and the threat of brutal inquisition & purges? Check.
  • Five Man Band: Charis' upper leadership. Later the "inner circle."
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Charis as England and Emerald as Ireland are only a couple of examples.
    • Harchong, from what little we know, seems to be based on medieval China. Among other things, they invented gunpowder. And have a corner on silk.
  • Friendly Sniper: Sergeant Edvard Wystahn is a good country lad and a really nice guy; he helps out his comrades in learning to read or with words of reassurance or comfort as they need it. He also has no problem putting a bullet through an enemy officer's head from under cover at 500 yards.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Personality-Integrated Cybernetic Avatar (PICA)
    • Self-Navigating Autonomous Reconnaissance and Communication platofrms (SNARC)
    • Neural Education and Training machines (NEAT)
  • Giving Radio to the Romans: No time travel involved, but otherwise Nimue's situation fits perfectly.
  • God Guise: Langhorne's group used their technology to fake their various Archangel abilities.
  • Good Shepherd: Maikel Staynair and Paityr Wylsynn. Ducharin is making an effort to become one of these.
    • Archbishop Zhasyn Cahnyr, currently (as of How Firm A Foundation) in Siddar City, Siddarmark.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Although all of Safehold writes modern English and speaks a slightly shifted version of it, the multicultural founders borrowed foreign terms like seijin (Japanese for holy person) and rakurai and used names from Asia for both places and people.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: Slightly subverted, since Duke Tirian really wouldn't have hurt his father-in-law given any other alternative.
    • Played completely straight in How Firm a Foundation when Urvyn Mahndrayn, Baron Seamount's assistant, tells his cousin, Trai Sahlavahn, at the Hairatha powder mill about 45 tons of missing gunpowder. Trai is actually responsible for this and stabs him in the back when they go to check it out. Minutes later the entire powder mill explodes.
  • Heel Face Turn: Prince Nahrmahn in By Schism Rent Asunder.
    • King Gorjah of Tarot is planning one in A Mighty Fortress
  • Heel Face Door Slam: Poor Hektor and his son
    • In the fourth book, we get several members of the clergy who don't like how political the Group Of Four has become. All of them are subjected to the cruel torture/execution of the Punishment of Shueler. Oh, and so are the clergy's families... including the women and children.
  • The Heretic: Pretty much everyone in the Empire of Charis who isn't a Temple Loyalist. And even they have the label by pure association.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: King Haarahld becomes a martyr via this.
    • The original Nimue Alban is also noted as one. She had herself transferred from one of the ships going to Safehold to one of the ships sacrificing itself to let them escape in order to set up the plan.
    • Narhmahn saves his wife from an assassin's bomb by throwing himself on top of her.
    • One archbishop along with two others throw themselves on a grenade-wearing suicide bomber at a mass in book 5, saving the crowd.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: In How Firm A Foundation, rather than lay low Madamn Ahnzhelyk assumes a false identity in Siddarmark and openly lives the high society life.
    • This is also how several Wylsynns, including Paityr, hid the Key, which is described in the book as a suitable size and shape for a paperweight.
  • High Class Call Girl: Madame Ahnzhelyk Phonda and her girls.
  • Hufflepuff House: Trellheim, which is mentioned once or twice as being inhabited, and Raven's Land, which forms the land border of the country of Chisholm, which is only noted in the world map.
  • Hypocrite: The Church of God Awaiting forbids the use of any technology...yet wipes out the city of Alexandria through orbital bombardment.
  • Jesus Was Way Cool: Inverted. Those who learn of the "Archangels'" lies still hold God Himself in high regard.
  • Kill Sat: The orbital platforms above Safehold remain a looming threat at this time.
  • Lensman Arms Race: As other nations try to emulate the innovations Merlin helped Charis discover.
    • Merlin wants to encourage this because forcing Charis' enemies to embrace innovation means victory for his ultimate goal of killing Safehold's technophobia.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: When your list of characters by the second book takes ten pages, you know you've hit this.
    • As of the fourth book, the character list now occupies thirty-two pages.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Plays a major part in the plots of By Heresies Distressed and A Mighty Fortress as the protagonists have to decide who to allow into their Inner Circle.
  • Loophole Abuse: The Charisian leadership have to be very careful about dancing around the Proscriptions. Though doing so is made much easier once Father Paityr is inducted into the Inner Circle and helps abuse loopholes.
  • Love At First Sight: Cayleb and Sharleyan upon their first face-to-face meeting. Played for laughs, really.
  • Ludd Was Right: Word of God says that Langhorne and Bédard believed the Gbaba were punishment for humanity's technological hubris.
  • Mathematician's Answer: Owl, Nimue/Merlin's AI, stubbornly sticks to literal answers for the first three books, despite its supposed learning ability. Only when it starts interacting with living Safeholdians does it improve with colloquial replies.
  • Meaningful Name: The best example is Nimue, already a name from Arthurian Legend, going by Merlin and naming Cayleb's sword Excalibur.
    • Am I the only one that linked Clyntahn's reported proclivities and gluttony with the former President Clinton?
  • Medieval Stasis: Strictly enforced by the Proscriptions of Jwo-Jeng.
  • Mercy Kill: Samyl Wylsynn, Lainsair Svairsmahn.
  • Modern Stasis: The Gbaba are suspected to be stuck in this, with evidence suggesting next to no technological advancement for hundreds or thousands of years. Unfortunately they're so advanced they don't need any.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: In "Off Armageddon Reef" it's definitely presented as Black and White Morality with the Chrisians as the good guys and the Church of God Awaiting and it's supporters as completely evil. Later books are more nuanced but with the Church forces as still far darker and no real bad guys in the Charisian Empire unless they turn traitor.
  • Mundane Utility: Among the many more practical things Cayleb uses Owl for: Keeping track of baseball games.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Prince Nahrmahn of Emerald. Earl Thirsk is another potential example, though that seems to be changing at least a little after his fleet got obliterated in book 1.
    • The Ultimatum that Cayleb issued in Off Armageddon Reef is the biggest sticking point for Thirsk in Fortress.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: Shan-wei, all the wei. Her plan continued to develop and unfold long after she was killed.
  • My Nayme Is: All over the place, as the result of 800 years of language drift.
  • Named Weapons: Cayleb's Excalibur.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Prince Nahrmahn is far more intelligent than he lets himself be known for. Many characters are aware of this and still underestimate him.
    • Duchairn begins using this to keep Clyntahn from viewing him as a threat.
  • Obviously Evil: Earl Coris on Clyntahn: "There ought to be a law that villains shouldn't be allowed to look like stereotypical villains."
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, but sometimes played with. There are people with the same first name, but sometimes with different spellings and/or pronunciations (e.g. Erayk and Erek)
    • One of the aversions combines this with Embarrassing First Name: Midshipman Aplyn, who is introduced in Off Armageddon Reef, shares a given name–Hektor–with the Prince of one of his kingdom's enemies.
  • Path of Inspiration: The original Church of God Awaiting
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Cayleb and Sharleyan. Made as a cold-blooded strategic political decision, but turns out to be Love At First Sight.
  • Power Perversion Potential: PICAs possess the ability to Gender Bend and are fully functional.
    • Merlin takes advantage of that "functionality" once to maintain cover in A Mighty Fortress.
  • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: From Off Armageddon Reef

 Tirian: After all, what do you think the odds are of you managing to defeat fifteen of my best?

Merlin: Better than average.

  • Precision F-Strike: Most recently: "Oh, fuck you, Kahrnaikys! You always were a prick! And fuck Clyntahn, too!"
  • Privateer
  • Properly Paranoid: Clyntahn, of all people. At least where the Brotherhood of St. Zherneau was concerned.
    • The Brotherhood itself is described throughout A Mighty Fortress as being "insanely cautious." But this insane level of caution is also regarded as completely justified.
  • Raging Stiffie: "Oh, my God! That was why you stayed in the water! Why you were so damned careful about that towel!" (Averted afterwards, once Merlin turns off that feature.)
  • Rape, Pillage and Burn: Cayleb does everything in his power to avert this trope out of a combination of his decent nature and an unwillingness to give the Church more fuel for its propaganda machine.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Back to back in How Firm a Foundation. Rhobair Duchairn gives the good guy version to Zahmsyn Trynair when the latter pleads with him to attend a public torture/execution. Then it cuts to Zhaspahr Clyntahn who gives a more traditional, villainous one about Duchairn to his underling, revealing that he has a perfect understanding of what's going through Duchairn's head, how little it matters, how Hobbes Was Right, and how everything he does just plays into Clyntahn's hands.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Haarahld and Cayleb both are pretty understanding. Haarahld especially when his own cousin was a traitor. Among the clergy is Maikel Staynair and Paityr Wylsynn, who is perhaps the only member of the Inquisition who can make this claim.
  • Recycled in Space: The series is very similar to the Thirty Years War, especially in religious aspect and the land war technologies introduced.
    • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, anyone?
  • Refuge in Audacity: Cayleb loves to use this to maximum effect, to the occasional consternation of Merlin.
    • Cayleb is nothing compared to Madame Ahnzhelyk. In fact, Cayleb's reaction to her smuggling over two hundred potential Inquisition victims to safety is described as "almost reverent."
  • Remember the Alamo!: Remember King Haahrald!
  • Rescue Introduction: How Merlin Athrawes introduced himself to then Crown Prince Cayleb in the first book.
  • Restraining Bolt: Autonomous PICAs are normally only able to remain active for ten days. This feature had to be hacked out of Nimue's PICA so it could perform the task needed of it, and doing so damaged the PICA's data port, so the PICA has to learn everything the old-fashioned way.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Merlin uses two revolvers in How Firm a Foundation. Let's just say they make quite an impression.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Ahrmahk dynasty of Charis, and a few others.
  • Ruling Couple
  • Saintly Church: The Church of Charis under Archbishop Maikel Staynair.
  • Satan Is Good: Played with a bit; while Shan-Wei is the Satan-analog for the Church of God Awaiting and is definitely on the side of good (not that this is known to the majority of the population), she was never a supernatural being and is long dead by the time the main plot starts.
    • At one point, Cayleb considers that the accusations of Shan-Wei worship made against him are pretty close to the truth - he now considers Shan-Wei someone worth venerating.
  • Shout Out: Nimue's alternate identity of Merlin. She also eventually gives Cayleb a sword and names it "Excalibur." Weber also likes to use Safehold's naming conventions to slip in references.
    • Merlin makes several deliberate shout outs to historical events reasoning that since he's the only one who knows the true history of Earth he might as well crib all of the best lines. Most notable is during Off Armageddon Reef when he suggests that Prince Cayleb flies the message Charis expects that every man will do his duty
    • Nahrmahn Baytz is the prince of the Emerald Island. Judging from the text, he doesn't have the accent, though.
    • In A Mighty Fortress, Lock Island says "It's time we were about it", possibly a reference to Honor Harrington's catchphrase.
    • Zhan Smolth, the star pitcher on the Tellesberg Kraken's and Rafayl Furkal, the Kraken's leadoff hitter in Off Armageddon Reef, both of whom are named after Atlanta Braves stars of the late nineties and early naughties. Considering that Weber lives in South Carolina, it's not unlikely that he's a fan.
    • Brigadier Kynt Clareyk (Kent Clark)
      • And his second in command is named Layn (Lane)
    • Gahvyn Mahrtyn, Baron Whiteford, has a valet named Zheevys.
    • Keeper of the Seal of the Kingdom of Charis, Baron White Church, Paityr Sellyrs.
    • From By Heresies Distressed we have a Chisholmian delegate to the committee to set up the Imperial Parliament: Sir Paitryk Mahknee
    • Several of the various fiefs are shout outs as well: the Earldom of Gray Harbor, the Barony of White Castle, the Barony of Green Mountain, the Duchy of Halbrook Hollow
    • Corisandan resistance member Paitryk Hainree (Patrick Henry)
    • The titles of the fourth and fifth books (A Mighty Fortress and How Firm a Foundation) are also the titles of protestant hymns.
    • There's a possible Babylon 5 reference in How Firm a Foundation: "There're good men enough standing behind me. And you're standing in front of me. If you want to survive this night, Colonel, be somewhere else. Now."
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Sharleyan, full stop. She's a skilled diplomat, a dedicated ruler, and a caring wife and mother. She's also perfectly willing and capable of helping her armsmen shoot a horde of attacking fanatics, or continuing to sentence traitors to death after getting shot by an assassin.
  • Sinister Minister: Quite a few, but Grand Inquisitor Zhaspar Clyntahn is the standout.
  • Space Amish: Though the folk of Safehold aren't aware of it.
  • Suicide Attack: Project Rakurai, using gunpowder-filled wagons as terrorist bombs.
  • Suicide by Cop: How Hauwerd Wylsynn chooses to go out.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Nimue is the most effective cross-dresser in history. It helps that she can actually change physical gender.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Bonus points for taking the time to point out that the wielder hadn't been in any sort of combat in decades, the knife wasn't very fit for throwing, and the thrower was just coming off a drinking binge. He still nails the shot.
  • Title Drop: Guess where a major naval battle takes place in Off Armageddon Reef.
    • More obliquely in A Mighty Fortress, when Cayleb recalls his ancestor's words that the walls of Charis' fortress are its wooden ships.
      • This, itself, is a Shout-Out to 2nd President of the United States John Adams (Especially considering that the man who said it was King Zhan II), who said that the wooden walls of the navy were his country's first line of defense.
      • Which itself might have been a Shout-Out to the Oracle of the Wooden Wall, where the Oracle of Delphi supposedly told Athens to "look to your wooden wall" for protection, and Themistocles decided that the wooden wall meant Athens' fleet.
    • Similarly in How Firm a Foundation, Cayleb talks about how he wants Charis to be a refuge from persecution and a foundation for human freedom and dignity — one firm enough to weather any storm.
  • Turbulent Priest: Maikel Staynair, Samyl & Hauwerd Wylsynn, and other members of the Circle.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Merlin flat-out wonders if Haarahld and Cayleb have some genetic defect affecting their "fight or flight" instincts. Justified in the case of Haarahld.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Merlin speaks to Sharleyan in Nimue's voice in the opening scene of A Mighty Fortress.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Zhaspar Clyntahn is especially dangerous because he has himself convinced that he's merely this.
    • Also Merlin himself, who is, for all intents and purposes, helping along war that will kill tens or hundreds of thousands in order to bring humanity back to its old technological level as quickly as possible.
      • In order to help along war that will kill tens or hundreds of thousands, to hopefully wipe out the Gbaba.
    • Also, Word of God says that Langhorne and Bedard honestly believed that locking Safehold in Medieval Stasis permanently would ensure humanity's survival.
  • Wham! Episode
    • Book 2: The Order of St. Zherneau.
    • Book 5: Paityr Wylsynn's revelation.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Self-inflicted for Merlin. While nearly everyone who learns the truth about Merlin is convinced that he's a living person, Merlin entertains constant doubt about his identity, and the reader is frequently reminded that he doesn't have a real heart when he feels strong emotions.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Sharleyan.
  • Willfully Weak: Merlin usually keeps governors in place to keep from betraying his superhuman nature too obviously, he removes them in emergencies when massive carnage is called for.
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men: the Charisian navy after Merlin's innovations take hold.
  • Worth It: Said by Merlin after his prank on Sharleyan at the start of A Mighty Fortress.
  • Worthy Opponent: The Earl of Thirsk is consistently said by the Charsian characters to be the single most dangerous commander the enemy has. He proves them correct, too.
  • Year Zero: Initially Creation, but in How Firm a Foundation Merlin notes that the end of Shan-wei's rebellion became the new Year Zero by which the "Years of God" are counted.