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An Oblique Approach (Belisarius) Mass Market Paperback

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Baen
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671878654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671878658
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 10.7 x 2.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 218 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,382,952 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Mass Market Paperback
An Oblique Approach is the first novel in the Belisarius series. Byzantium was the Empire of Rome in the East, ruled at this time by Emperor Justinian. A former Thracian peasant, Justinian had selected a minor Thracian noble, Belisarius, to be his bodyguard and then later to head the army facing their Medean foe. While Belisarius was not the Emperor's friend (for Justinian had no friends), they respected each other and Belisarius' wife Antonia was a close friend of the Empress Theodora.
When Belisarius was traveling to assume command the army at Daras, the monk Michael of Macedonia and Anthony Cassian, the local bishop, came to his new house in Aleppo, bringing a strange object found by Michael within his cave in the desert. A faceted crystal that seemed to form and reform, they said that it had brought visions to their minds when they held it and they urged Belisarius to take it into his own hands. When it was passed to him, the crystal flared into light and flooded his mind with visions.
The crystal could induce visions and feelings, but was mostly unable to communicate directly. The visions showed a future in which the Malwa empire of northern India conquered all the known world and induced feelings of dread and despair. But all who held the crystal also felt certain that the future shown and felt was not necessarily the only possible future. The crystal had come to enlist Belisarius himself in an effort to preclude this bitter future in favor of one more consistent with their own desires and inclinations.
While the exhausted crystal quietly regained its strength, the human party formed a conspiracy to counter the evil plans of the Malwa.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm going to review the entire series, rather than only the first book. Hopefully it will help if some are prepared for what's ahead.
Drake and Flint have killed this series for me with their childish sense of humor.
Jokes that were only 'cute' when they first appeared (occasianally) in An Oblique Approach, are downright nauseating when they are FEATURED in the rest of the series. Every character--be they Thracian, Greek, Persian, or Indian--has an identical sense of irony and sarcasm, and Drake and Flint bash you over the head with it like a cataphract wielding a cudgel. Fer cryin' out loud, even the friggin CRYSTAL sports a sense of humor (I use the term loosely) that is identical to every other character in the series!
Half-way through In The Heart Of Darkness I was rolling my eyes at the overly-pithy, self-aware wit that was creeping up more often. By the end of Destiny's Shield, I was groaning audibly.
The characters are all cookie-cutter: You've got a couple of hard-as-nails hookers with hearts of gold; some grizzled old soldiers with unfailing loyalty to their general; some enemy generals that just drip honor (so you know they'll be switching sides before it's all over); and the vile, honorless, and militarily incompetent enemy generals who howl at the guile and cunning of Belisarius, then ignore the counsel of talented underlings who have spotted his traps.
The battles are pretty entertaining, strategically, but they are all routes. There is never a sense of danger, that the battle could go either way but for the brilliant battlefield maneuvering of Belisarius.
All in all, An Oblique Approach was a pretty darn good book. The account of Princess Shakuntala's rescue was particularly well written.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first came upon this book when I saw it featured in the free library at the Baen website along with its sister books, "Heart of Darkness" and "Destiny's Shield". Since it was free I took a gander and was immediately hooked. The first book effectively introduces a mystery of grand proportions. In the world of 6th century Rome, Belisarius is a character that is not what we would expect of a Roman general. We expect ruthlessness and atrocities and looting, all the characteristics of a barbaric time in our history. However, what I saw was something which I could truly admire and respect. Belisarius has a fiendish mind for strategy and tactics, combined with that gift is a high code of honor and ethics. He will not stand helplessly and watch evil being committed in his world. He will not "compromise" with his lessors. And he definitly will not be defeated by a bunch of "savages" from India. Read the book based upon Belisarius' character alone. Fortunatly that's not all the reasons why you should read it.
The story is set in authentic historical context in the time of Justinia, Emperor of Rome. However, future is melded into the past. A device of unfathomable complexity and intelligence is sent from the future to protect history. It chooses Belisarius as its sole avatar. Belisarius will see the future and the possible future that will be, if he does not act. That future results in a world aflame with agony, and Belisarius will do whatever in his power to prevent that future to exist. Whatever it takes, he will do, and he will do it with the same standards of decency, honor, and ruthlessness as he has defeated all his enemies with. Belisarius will bring into being weapons powered by gunpowder, rockets and grenades that shatter human flesh.
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