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An Oblique Approach (Belisarius) [Mass Market Paperback]

4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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5.0 out of 5 stars A Divergence in Time Nov. 28 2003
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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2.0 out of 5 stars mutter mutter mutter, grumble grumble grumble April 6 2003
By Speaker
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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5.0 out of 5 stars "Deadly with a sword is Belisarius" Jan. 6 2003
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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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars First of a great series !
Great, great, great book. I especially enjoy a great series since I sometimes read 2 to 3 books a week. Read more
Published on June 16 2004 by Michael Lynn Mcguire
4.0 out of 5 stars No deep philosophy here, but it's worth a read.
I can easily imagine how this series got started: a couple of guys musing, "I wonder what would have happened if an ancient general had access to modern weaponry and... Read more
Published on April 29 2001 by N. Dodson
4.0 out of 5 stars Dont let the nay-sayers fool ya
This is an extreemly well writen book. The characters are well portrayed, and even remain fairly close to most of the historical accounts of the real people they represent. Read more
Published on March 9 2001 by Chris Campos
4.0 out of 5 stars Never judge a book by its cover
Too often I've picked up what looked like a good novel, and have been disappointed. I remember a WWII novel covered with rave reviews, but started off as pureil trash and went... Read more
Published on June 28 2000 by Jerome A. Schroeder
5.0 out of 5 stars A winner
Being a new fan of alternate history I came across eric flint's 1632 and loved it. When I went looking for more, An Oblique Approach seemed to fit the bill and I was not... Read more
Published on June 24 2000 by H. Sowle
5.0 out of 5 stars Strategy, Battle, and a Quest, all written in Pure Poetry
I missed this one when it came out, largely because David Drake's name on a book is a strong *NEGATIVE* recommendation to me. Read more
Published on May 25 2000 by Geoffrey Kidd
2.0 out of 5 stars Clone of "The General" series with "superman" as...
The parallels are so extensive you may think you are reading the same book. The major difference is it happens on earth in Byzantium, instead of far in the future on another planet... Read more
Published on Sept. 5 1999 by Steve
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting as hell, but roughly-written
I thought this book's plot was fascinating and nothing but. However, the writing and storytelling is a bit rough and in some parts even cliched. Read more
Published on Sept. 5 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Great characters, lots of fun. Where is the rest of it?
Interesting characters, great battles, and lots of potential. But, if this is the whole story, I feel cheated. Read more
Published on Nov. 30 1998 by Kenneth S. Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good.
This offers solid historical adventure. I think Drake mainly let his name and historical and military expertise, but the book is still absorbing. Read more
Published on July 26 1998 by
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