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Belisarius Books In Order

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Publication Order of Belisarius Books

By: Eric Flint, David Drake
An Oblique Approach (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
In the Heart of Darkness (1998)Description / Buy at Amazon
Destiny's Shield (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
Fortune's Stroke (2000)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Tide of Victory (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Dance of Time (2006)Description / Buy at Amazon

Belisarius is a series of science fiction novels written by David Drake and Eric Flint. The story follows Flavius Belisarius, a real historical figure.

+The Story

Belisarius is primarily science fiction though some might describe it more accurately as alternative history. It chronicles the war between two competing societies.

The Malwa Empire of India is backed by the new Gods as it makes an effort to conquer the world, intent upon favoring planned eugenics and hereditary births over meritorious accomplishments, the purpose being to change the future.

Standing within the shadows of the Malwa Empire, which is resolved to crush all forces that attempt to stand against its purposes, is a Cyborg called Link, through whose efforts the Malwa Empire is able to conquer the rest of India using its innovation of gunpowder.

Standing alongside the rest of mankind are crystalline beings from humanity’s distant future who, through a local man, contact the Byzantine general Belisarius, showing him visions of a future conquered by the Malwa.

This essentially places the responsibility for preventing this future at Belisarius’ doorstep, this at a time when emissaries from the Far off Malwa Empire are visiting Rome and takings steps to divide Byzantine among its conflicting factions. And as their popularity grows especially among the ruling class and with the Emperor Justinian, Belisarius, and his friends must move surreptitiously to counter the invasion.

A Cataphract General with a preference for direct approaches, Belisarius is chosen to do battle for mankind’s future because of his ability to achieve results using imperfect tools.

Belisarius sets out to create alliances with Byzantium’s historical enemies, this including Persia and the African Kingdom of Axum, relying on his skills, stratagems and connections to stall the Malwa invasion.

+The Author

Eric Flint was born in 1947. An editor, author, and e-publisher, Eric has gained renown for his work in the alternative history and science fiction genres, though he has also dabbled in humorous fantasy.

Initially working on a Ph.D. in history (specializing in Southern African History), he left his doctoral program, choosing to pursue political activism in the labor movement. He did a wide variety of odd jobs to support himself until the age of 50, at one point working as a machinist, truck driver and a longshoreman.

With series such as Pyramid, Karres and Jao Empire to mention but a few under his belt, Eric Flint wrote the Belisarius series of novels in collaboration with David Drake.

An American author of fantasy and Science Fiction, David Drake is a Vietnam War veteran born in 1945. He graduated from the University of Iowa, majoring in Latin and history.

His time at the Duke University of Law was interrupted for 24 months when he was drafted into the Army, serving as an interrogator with The Black Horse Regiment in Vietnam and Cambodia.

David Drake is best known for Hammer’s Slammers, a series of military science fiction novels. Along with the Lord of the Isles (his largest fantasy series) and Republic of Cinnabar Navy, Drake was produced numerous works in collaboration with other writers, including Eric Flint and Karl Edward Wagner.

More often than not, Drake’s involvement is restricted to providing plot outlines, with his co-author doing the real work. Drake’s extensive knowledge of history and literature, as well as mythology, heavily impacts the stories he creates.

+An Oblique Approach

Backed by an Alien intelligence from beyond time, the Malwa Empire is moving to conquer sixth century Earth. Standing in its path is Belisarius, the greatest commander on the planet.

An Oblique Approach, the first novel in the Belisarius series, is pulpy, muscular and almost ridiculous. Little effort is made by the author to maintain historical accuracy or even plausibility.

The hero of the tale is Belisarius, a 6th-century Roman general partaking in a 15th-century war with supporting characters from the 18th and 17th centuries.

The number of famous figures that make wild and almost inappropriate cameos is staggering. An Oblique Approach is very much light literature and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

The justifications the authors use to alter notable historical elements (such as the presence of gunpowder several centuries earlier) are somewhat silly yet largely irrelevant to the story as a whole, not in light of all those elements that allow the novel to entertain.

The violence is graphic, the language is intriguing and expressive, and the authors paint quite a vivid image of their characters.

With sharp dialogue and imaginative descriptions, one cannot fail to appreciate this novel for what it is.

+In the Heart of Darkness

Using gunpowder weapons, the Malwa Empire has conquered 6th century India, spreading ruthless terror across the land and turning its population into an invincible army of tyranny.

Commanded by a mechanical intelligence determined to, first, rule the world before setting it stamp over all eternity, only Belisarius, the greatest General of his age, stands against this evil.

Haunted by visions of a future he cannot allow to be, and accompanied by a band of comrades, he moves to penetrate Malwa heartland, seeking his enemy’s core.

In Constantinople, those elements standing against Malwa, its assassins, and various other home-grown traitors must also contend with the suspicion of the Emperor himself, his brilliant, febrile mind seeing threats in any competence.

As Belisarius cuts his way across Northern India, Constantinople struggles to control the chaos that is striving to destroy the city and engulf mankind as a whole.

Fans of An Oblique Approach’ might be disappointed by In the Heart of Darkness’. While not quite terrible, the second book in the Belisarius series simply fails to live up to the expectations set by its predecessor.

Most of the complaints surrounding this novel revolve around the role Belisarius plays in the story, the famed general spending most of the book running around India, hanging out with Malwa officials and making strategies whose fruition never come to pass in the novel.

As with most books in the Belisarius series, the characters in this novel are over-the-top and a little too straightforward, an aspect that only works because of Eric Flint and David Drake’s masterful approach to storytelling.

One cannot help but enjoy In the Heart of Darkness’ even with all its flaws though it lost a lot of the momentum created by its predecessor.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Belisarius

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