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By Schism Rent Asunder
02 - By Schism Rent Asunder 01.jpg
Author David Weber
Abbreviation BSRA
Illustrator Ellisa Mitchell (maps)
Publication date 2008
Published by Tor Books
ISBN 978-0-7653-1501-4
Publication Order
Preceded by
Off Armageddon Reef
Followed by
By Heresies Distressed

By Schism Rent Asunder is a science fiction novel by David Weber and the second book in the Safehold Series.

Timeframe: May, Year of God 892 - November, Year of God 892

Plot summary[]

Nimue Alban, known to the people of the planet Safehold as Merlin Athrawes, has been very busy. Over the course of several months, she 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 II as well as the source of Charis' rapid advancements in military technology, are tiring even for a PICA. Her only escape is space, where 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 the 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 Maikel Staynair of Charis, who has become the effective Martin Luther of Safehold, declares a schism between the Church of God Awaiting and his see in Charis, accusing the Group of Four which controls the Church of being responsible for the massive sneak attack that was launched on Charis. King Cayleb, who has ascended to the throne following his father's death in battle, is locked in a desperate struggle with the Temple. The Royal Charisian Navy, which now essentially rules the seas of the world, 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 Dynnys, 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 the King. Merlin barely manages to prevent the assassination of Archbishop Staynair at the hands of Temple 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 in the port city of Ferayd pushes Safehold to the 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 at the beginning of the conflict. 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, Archbishop Staynair reveals himself to be part of the Brethren of Saint Zherneau, a secret order which has uncovered irrefutable proof of humanity's true history. It is revealed that Haarahld VII 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 Brethren agree to keep the amount of people who are aware of the truth as low as possible. Merlin reluctantly agrees to exclude 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 for it.

Cayleb decides to exact retribution on Delferahk. A large Charisian fleet commanded by Admiral Domynyk Staynair sails to Ferayd, where it quickly reduces all coastal defenses to rubble and lands a large force of Charisian Marines. The city's defenders surrender and the Charisians order an evacuation of a two mile area that includes the city's waterfront before burning the entire area to fulfil their orders from King Cayleb.

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 his 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 support from Zion. Unlike Nahrmahn, Corisande's Prince Hektor will not go down without a fight, so 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 the newly crowned Emperor and Merlin, embarks to Chisholm, where it will combine with forces there to stage a massive invasion of the League of Corisande.

Publishing data[]

  • "By Schism Rent Asunder." Publishers Weekly 255.18 (05 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.



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BladeHMS DestroyerHMS Empress of CharisHMS Guardian (Charis)HMS Guardian (Dohlar)HMS WaveLance


Zhorjtown | The Sailor's Lady



Charisian architecturedeep-mouth wyvernmountain spike-thornnearoakHouse of Qwentynspike-thorn

External links[]

Safehold Novels
Off Armageddon ReefBy Schism Rent AsunderBy Heresies DistressedA Mighty FortressHow Firm A FoundationMidst Toil and TribulationLike A Mighty ArmyHell's Foundations QuiverAt the Sign of TriumphThrough Fiery Trials