David Drake & Eric Flint, Belisarius: I Thunder at Dawn Reviews

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“Belisarius: I Thunder at Dawn ”


written by Harriet Klausner on 14/08/2008

Belisarius: I Thunder at Dawn
David Drake & Eric Flint
Baen, Sep 2008
ISBN: 9781416555681

"An Oblique Approach". Byzantium Emperor Justinian selected his Thracian bodyguard to lead his army. On the way to assume his command role, Monk Michael of Macedonia and Bishop Anthony Cassian meet with him. They give him a crystal that he grasps; he sees Northern India's Malwa Empire conquering the world, leaving a path of destruction and death no one could envision. He and trusted allies begin a top secret project to insure his vision of the future never occurs even as he begins rebuilding the army at Daras. However they lack solid Intel about their future foe; or they would know something beyond human understanding is guiding the deadly treacherous Malwa.

"In the Heart of Darkness". In India seeking intelligence on the enemy and assisted by the futuristic Aide though that intelligence makes little sense to the Byzantium general, Belisarius meets with Lord Venandakatra insisting he will switch sides for the right price. However, he also sets up a ploy to liberate Princess Shakuntala, the last survivor of the Satavahana dynasty over run by the Malwa. He tries to hide his duplicity; he succeeds until he meets his archenemy Link the future supercomputer who possesses the body of a Malwa. Realizing Link can "read" him; Belisarus and his comrades are forced to flee.

These two reprints are the opening acts of the Belisarius alternate history saga as two opposing groups from the future intervene in Justinian's 'present' era. The tales are well written especially the first fascinating one. However, 'In the Heart of Darkness' is a mixed bag as readers fully grasp the differences between the methodologies employed by the futurists with their respective intervention, but the era does not come alive as much as it should (as the plot especially early does in 'An Oblique Approach'). Still sub-genre fans will enjoy this reprint of a fine saga that blends real historical fifth century persona with fictional intruders from the future.

Harriet Klausner

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