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Aide, a human soul embodied in a jewel, journeys back in time to join forces with Belisarius, the greatest general of the sixth century, to stop Link, an evil supercomputer that is using its vast powers to rewrite history to create the powerful, technologically advance Malwa Empire. Reprint.
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Getting to follow big, bad Byzantine Belisarius around the alt-history battlefield--courtesy of Eric Flint and David Drake--comes in a close second to having your own personal unit of cataphracts. (Although, of course, those cataphracts would be nice to have in traffic.) Following on the heels of Destiny's Shield, the fourth installment in this popular series follows the superhuman general as he harries Malwa troops in the mountains leading into Mesopotamia. He's still got the across-time assistance of the crystal Aide to help him deal with the threat, augmenting his senses and keeping him briefed on the tactics of everyone from Wellington to Turenne. But Link, the Supreme Commander of the Universe, still calls the shots for the evil empire, and Belisarius has to double-time to keep up (especially facing such shrewd field commanders as Damodara).
Fortune's Stroke downshifts the series a notch in terms of sheer Belisarius-meted carnage, because Damodara's Ye-tai barbarians and Rajput cavalry aren't the only show in town. Flint and Drake spend a good deal of time with other characters in the series in other locales, like Kungas and Irene in south India and Antonina in Axum (for a start). But this investment will surely pay off as the series continues, as Belisarius and his cohort close in on the Malwa for good. (And if you're new to the battle, start with An Oblique Approach, the first title in the series.) --Paul HughesFrom Publishers Weekly:
This exuberant romp of an alternate-history novel is the fourth volume of a series (Destiny's Shield, etc.) in which two contending super-beings from the far future try to determine humanity's fate through changing the 6th century A.D. The villain, Link, uses the Indian Malwa Empire as his tool; the benefactor, Aide, chooses the Byzantine Empire and particularly the famous Count Belisarius, its most formidable general. Belisarius's formidable wife, Antonina, plays matchmaker for the emperor of Ethiopia, thus giving the forces of good a fighting navy in the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. The delightful diplomatic noblewoman Irene Macrembolitissa also plays matchmaker, securing the marriage of the Maratha leader Ragunath Rao to his beloved Princess Shakuntala (a South Asian Princess Leia figure). Finally, Belisarius himself brings the Malwans' invasion of Persia to an end. However, Link has managed to find another human host and is as ruthless as ever, while Aide has developed a raunchy sense of humor from too much association with biological humans. Readers shouldn't take all this too seriously (and those new to the series would do well to read the earlier volumes before tackling this one), but should sit back and chortle while admiring the authors' alternate-technological ingenuity. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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