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Off Armageddon Reef
01 - Off Argageddon Reef 02.jpg
Author David Weber
Abbreviation OAR
Illustrator Ellisa Mitchell (maps)
Publication date 2007
Published by Tor Books
ISBN 0-7653-1500-9
Publication Order
Preceded by
Followed by
By Schism Rent Asunder

Off Armageddon Reef is a science fiction novel written by David Weber and published by Tor Books. It is the first book of the Safehold Series.

Timeframe: May, Year of God 890 - April, Year of God 892

Plot summary[]

The 25th Century: the Terran Federation finds itself at war with a genocidal alien race known as the Gbaba, and after a long war, it becomes obvious that humans are losing. In order to preserve the species, several colonization expeditions are sent out to other stars, but all are tracked down and purged by the Gbaba. Finally, a colony fleet manages to sneak away via trickery. The passengers of the colony ships spend decades in hyperspace in cryogenic sleep, and then arrive at a planet thousands of light years away from and slightly smaller than Earth, which they colonize and name "Safehold".

The original plan for this society was to wait for the immediate danger to pass, rebuild the technological base from records and artifacts left behind, and prepare a force large enough to defeat the Gbaba. However, the mission command is split into two groups. The first one is led by a Machiavellian administrator named Eric Langhorne, who believes that unless the humans in hiding on Safehold are permanently restricted to a Medieval level of technology, they will be eventually detected and destroyed by the Gbaba. During the trip to Safehold, the group alters the colonists' memories so they believe upon awakening they are the first humans and that they were created by a god. The radical leaders create a new religious institution called the Church of God Awaiting, which proscribes advanced technology and effectively deifies the members of mission command (they are hereafter called angels and are led by the "Archangel Langhorne").

The second group, under the administrator Pei Shan-wei, wishes to preserve advanced technology and concepts, but not to use such knowledge until humanity is ready. In this way, the knowledge would be preserved and available for future generations. Once the human population had recovered, they could gradually ramp up the technology until they were capable of defeating the Gbaba. To this end, the second group establishes a city named Alexandria to house its members and technological information.

The two groups break into open warfare, and Langhorne has the Alexandria Enclave and all its inhabitants (including Shan-Wei, who is made into the Safeholdian version of Lucifer by the Church), destroyed by orbital bombardment. The city ruins and the surrounding land mass are sunk beneath the ocean, creating what the now-superstitious colonists call Armageddon Reef. In a counter-attack, Shan-wei's supporters manage to eliminate most of, if not all of, Langhorne's inner circle, including Langhorne himself. Shan-wei's group also managed to hide a PICA with the personality and memories of Nimue Alban, a dead female Federation Navy officer, deep within a secret mountain base, along with technology, an electronic library and a room full of weapons. When Nimue awakes some 800 years later, the situation is explained to her by a recording created by Pei Kau-yung, Shan-Wei's husband, and she is offered the mission of reversing the plans of the radicals and helping prepare mankind for the inevitable re-encounter with the Gbaba on more favorable terms.

Nimue accepts the mission and uses mobile spy technology to examine the world. However, it becomes clear that as an apparent woman, her influence would be less than it should be. She therefore changes into an apparent male and takes the name of Merlin Athrawes before travelling to the Kingdom of Charis which is a relatively advanced region of Safehold with a somewhat free-thinking approach to religion. Merlin gains the trust of King Haarahld VII of Charis by interfering in an assassination attempt on Haarahld's son, Crown Prince Cayleb, and is made Cayleb's personal guardian and a de-facto adviser to the king. He begins to introduce technology that, while not technically proscribed by the Safeholdian Bible, is advanced: while most of Safehold is at a 14th century level of technology, Merlin introduces better sailing vessels, improved gunpowder, and greatly improved seaborne cannons, very equivalent to 18th century Europe. Events come to a head when the Church organizes an attack on Charis by most of its neighbors. Largely due to the technology introduced by Merlin, the combined attacking fleets of galleys are annihilated by the small Charis fleet of heavily-armed galleons, although King Haarahld is killed in the final battle.

With Cayleb as the new monarch, his father's funeral is held in the capital city of Tellesberg, while more conflict already looms on the horizon, as Charis's clerics seriously consider secession from the Church, and a new age of international tension and naval warfare on Safehold begins.

Publishing data[]

Edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Book design by Ellen Cipriano

Maps by Ellisa Mitchell



Zherald AhdymsynZherohm AhlbairFaidel AhlverezAhryn AhrmahkCayleb AhrmahkHaarahld VII AhrmahkKahlvyn AhrmahkKahlvyn Cayleb AhrmahkRayjhis AhrmahkZhan AhrmahkZhanayt AhrmahkZhenyfyr AhrmahkPhylyp AhzgoodNimue AlbanHektor AplynMerlin AthrawesBardulf AymezZheevys BahltynBorys BahrmynTohmys BahrmynRahnyld IV BahrnsFelayz BaytzMahrya BaytzNahrmahn II BaytzNahrmahn Gareyt BaytzOhlyvya BaytzTrahvys BaytzAdorée BédardRozhyr BlaidynKhanair BowshamRobyrt BradlaiFraidareck BreygartHauwerd BreygartMahtaio BrounEllys BraunyngBrekyn ByrkZhasyn CahnyrMailvyn ChalmyrKarlos ChalmyrzMarik CharlzKynt ClareykZhaspyr ClyntahnLewk CohlmynSamyl CahkraynGahlvyn DaikynHektor DaykynDomnekZhak DragonerRhobair DuchairnFronz DymytreeAdorai DynnysErayk DynnysErek XVIIHayrys EkyrdLuhys FahrmahnPayter FaircasterFather MichaelAhrnahld FalkhanMateus FofãoRaimahnd FuhllyrRafayl FurkhalCharlz GahrdanerLywys GardynyrTymahn GreenhillBahrnai GuyshainAndrai GyrardWyllys GraisynGorj HaarparOhwyn HotchkysPawal HahlmahnFranz HalversenYahncee HaskynMatthew Paul HarrisonRobert HarrisonSarah HarrisonTimothy HarrisonAhlbyrt HarysZhorzh HauwyrdGabriela HendersonEhdwyrd HowsmynKlemynt HuntyrAhlfryd HyndrykZohzef HyrstJasonTsen Jwo-jengZhilbert KailleePayt KhattyrLynail KohrbyKuznetzovBraidee LahangEric LanghorneZhim LaynBryahn Lock IslandErnyst LynkynMahrak MahgenteeRahzhyr MahklynRholynd MahlryTahdayo MahntaylRahnald MahrakGahvyn MahrtynAllayn MagwairQwentyn MaikelLeeahm MaikelsynNevyl MairydythZhames MakferzahnZhoshua MakgregairGwylym ManthyrAdym MarshylZhaikeb MathysynDunkyn MaylyrZhaspahr MaysahnFraizher MaythisOskahr MhulvaynMichaelRaiyan MychailUrvyn MyllyrKehvyn MyrgynKohdy NylzGorjah III NyouSygmahn OarmasterTrahvys OhlsynAhnyet OlyvyrDustyn OlyvyrOwlPei Kau-yungPei Kau-zhiPei Shan-weiAhnzhelyk PhondaElias ProctorDonyrt QwentynGharth RahlstahnErayk RahlstynBynzhamyn RaiceWyllym RaynoAhdam RopewalkHorahs RowynEdymynd RustmynBynzhamyn SahdlyrMahrak SandyrsRhyzhard SeafarmerWahltayr SeatownHahl ShandyrSymyn ShumakyrZhan SmolthMartin SomersetMaikel StaynairDomynyk StaynairGreyghor StohnarDahryl StywyrtTohmas SymmynsGervays TallmynSharleyan TaytJoseph ThiessenFrahnklyn TohmysHenrai TillyerZahmsyn TrynairDynzyl TryvythynLyam TyrnZherohm VyncytStyvyn WhaiteMarhys WyllymsPaityr WylsynnKynyth WynstynEhrnaist YowanceRayjhis YowanceHalmyn ZahmsynFrahnk ZhansanNyklas ZheppsynLachlyn ZhessypPhylyp Zhoelsyn


HMS DaggerHMS DamselHMS DaringDawnHMS DefenseHMS DestroyerHMS DevastationHMS DreadfulHMS DreadnoughtFoamFraynceenHMS GaleTFNS GulliverHalberdHMS HalberdTFNS HamilcarHMS IntrepidKing Gorjah IIHMS King RahnyldHMS MaelstromHMS Royal CharisSea CloudHMS Sword of TirianHMS Summer MoonHMS TellesbergHMS ThunderboltHMS TorrentHMS TravelerHMS TyphoonWave DaughterHMS Wyvern


Charis IslandCharisian ArchipelagoCorisande IslandDarcos SoundEmerald IslandHairathaTemple of GodTellesbergZion


Battle of Crag ReachBattle of Darcos SoundBattle of Rock Point


Adjutant GeneralArchangelAnshinritsumeibaseballBarony of Black Wyverncat-lizardCharisian Merchant MarineArchbishopric of Chiang-wuchoke treeChurch of God AwaitingdragonEcclesiastical Courtfleming mossgalleongalleyhypercomThe InsightskercheefKing's BenchkrakenmarkPICAPrivy Council Chamberrecon droneschoonersemaphoreSNARCspyglasssteel thistlewhiskeywire vinewyvernry

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