Between 2005-2008, I entered a Barnes and Noble and came across a book in the New Releases section that I regretted not purchasing. I remember only the following from the back-panel summary of the book:

  • Humanity was more or less wiped out.
  • The remains of humanity were put into a deep sleep on one (or more) large spaceship(s).
  • When they arrived a new planet, they had a society where religion was/wasn't outlawed (can't remember anymore).
  • A lot of bad stuff went down after humanity rebuilt itself on this new planet.
  • BTW there's also a book called "The Songs of Distant Earth" by Arthur C. Clarke that has a similar plot. The world has ended, albeit naturally, and humanity has sent off spaceships to colonize other worlds. The story is set on a colony that is visited by one of the ships that left after them.
    – Suman Roy
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 7:13
  • For future reference: the OP has accepted the wrong answer, so if you're looking for dupes, consider JohnP's one as the correct one.
    – Möoz
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 4:57
  • @ArtSabintsev: Can we get you to change which answer you accepted to the correct one?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 16:09
  • Unless, of course, the mistake was that you'd thought it was "Helm", but later changed your mind again? Some clarification from you would be helpful.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 16:25
  • I think it's very clear from the timeline of events that Helm was thought to be correct but was miss-labelled and the right answer is in fact Safehold, noticed after more details were provided.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Feb 14, 2018 at 8:40

4 Answers 4


While it is earlier than your described 2005-2008 timeframe, there is a book published in 1999 by Stephen Gould entitled "Helm" (It's entirely possible it could have just been mis-shelved by a patron).

The TV Tropes website gives this synopsis:

Shortly after the conclusion of a war that destroyed the Earth, rendering it uninhabitable for generations, the survivors in the grossly-overstretched lunar colony decide to send four thousand in a colony ship to a planet that had been in the process of being terraformed. However, the colony ship was only designed to carry one thousand — and the other three thousand replace the supplies that the colony would have needed to start on the new planet as a technological civilization. The colony will survive ... but they will survive as a low-tech civilization that will have to rebuild to a higher level. And to help them, they will begin the job implanted with a strict religious code, designed to maximize the probability of the colony's survival.

The book actually starts much later than the colonization, but everything in that synopsis fits your description.

  • 1
    This is the one! This sounds exactly right! Wow! So excited to read this now! Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 1:14
  • I finally read this book. Wasn’t as good as I’d had hoped it to be. I’ll be picking up The Safehold series in the next year (working through a massive backlog). Thanks for answering this question and providing the suggestion! Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 21:25

David Weber's Safehold Series sounds like a match:

For centuries, the world of Safehold, last redoubt of the human race, lay under the unchallenged rule of the Church of God Awaiting. The Church permitted nothing new—no new inventions, no new understandings of the world.

What no one knew was that the Church was an elaborate fraud—a high-tech system established by a rebel faction of Safehold’s founders, meant to keep humanity hidden from the powerful alien race that had destroyed old Earth.

Then awoke Merlyn Athrawes, cybernetic avatar of a warrior a thousand years dead, felled in the war in which Earth was lost. Monk, warrior, counselor to princes and kings, Merlyn has one purpose: to restart the history of the too-long-hidden human race.

  • Thank you for your response. While @JohnP's answer is the correct one, I am excited to read this one as well! Thank you! Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 1:14
  • 1
    @ArtSabintsev If this is not the correct answer, please don't 'accept' it. Soulds like you should change your acceptance to JohnP's answer.
    – Möoz
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 4:56
  • @Möoz see below where the additional details have confirmed this is the correct answer, You should note this was accepted on January 7th 2016 after the second answer about the Safehold Series was added.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Feb 14, 2018 at 8:36

@ArtSabintsev -- I know this question is old but now that some time has passed I'd like to ask are you still quite certain it wasn't one of the Safehold novels from around that time? See the general plot description and most likely titles below. The primary protagonist in the series is named Merlin.

When I first read your description and the date I was quite certain you were describing Weber's books. I was also very surprised that you said that Gould's "Helm" is the right answer since your question stated the book was in the New Releases area of B&N but Helm was already many years old when you saw whatever book you saw.

"After a desperate and ultimately lost struggle against a genocidal alien foe in the 24th Century, the 8 million survivors of Earth flee to Safehold to carefully rebuild civilization. They plan to temporarily block industrialization to avoid detection [...] the mission’s megalomaniacal leader Eric Langhorne implements this by erasing the colonists’ memories, excepting only his trusted staff and the advance terraforming team under Pei Shan-Wei. To her horror, 8 million colonists awaken on Safehold with the programmed belief that they are the first humans, newly created by divine will; Langhorne is the most powerful of God’s “Archangels,” holy beings charged with guiding a permanently medieval society."

  • YES! This is it!!!!! Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 14:20
  • Marked your answers correct! Thank you so much! This is next on my reading list as of this moment! Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 14:20
  • The "correct" credit should go to @Oldcat in their post from back when you originally asked the question. All I did was double check the answer. As an FYI, the Safehold books are addictive and there are currently 8 of them with #9 on the way (hopefully) later this year. Enjoy!
    – O.M.Y.
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 15:28
  • Alright, I gave him back the credit. Reading your description jogged/jiggled my memory - this was exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much! Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 16:39

Also sounds exactly like 'The Knife of Never Letting Go' by Patrick Ness. Guess there really isnt anything new under the sun.

  • 4
    Can you explain how you feel that it matches up? Just for the sake of someone doing searches who comes upon the name of the work?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 11:42
  • 1
    The synopsis of "The Knife of Never Letting Go" sounds nothing like the book the questioner is asking for. I suspect @MichaelLoy is remembering the wrong book.
    – O.M.Y.
    Commented Jan 7, 2016 at 7:09

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