From Publishers Weekly
Veteran Drake (Mistress of the Catacombs) and relative newcomer Flint (1632) manage to instruct as well as entertain in this latest volume in their popular... series. Human space has fallen into anarchy and barbarism after the collapse of the Galactic Federation. On the planet Bellview, an artifact of the past a sentient battle computer called Center selects a young officer, Raj Whitehall, to be the father of the future in a revived Federation. After accomplishing their mission on Bellview, Raj and Center have their personalities downloaded into thousands of probes and sent into space. On the planet Hafardine, one of these probes merges with scholar Adrian Gellert, who holds a position roughly equivalent to a Greek in the authors' retelling of the Roman Civil War. Center and Raj's sociopolitical insights prove to be of critical importance to Gellert's father-in-law, the Justicar Verice Demansk, in his attempts to save Vanbert from itself. Most of the narrative excitement derives from the introduction of gunpowder and steam technologies to ancient warfare, while thorough knowledge of the underlying causes and conditions that shaped Rome's destiny lends authority. There's a sense of inevitability to the success of the progressive forces, and more than a little deus ex machina in the device of the omniscient cybernetic advisers. Because the opposition is uniformly incompetent and cupidinous, the story reads at times as if it were a didactic Soviet science-fiction novel, but most military SF fans won't mind.
From Library Journal
The Confederacy of Vanbert, once the world's mightiest realm, has fallen to decay and internal corruption. Justiciar Verice Demansk, one of its rulers, embarks on a bold course of action to rectify the condition of the land that he loves even if his actions mark him as a traitor and transform him into a tyrant. The authors of the "Belisarius" series (The Tide of Victory, etc.) join forces to continue a second series (formerly coauthored by Drake and S.M. Sterling) depicting the fall of a society much like the Roman Empire. Set in an alternate universe with connections to the world of the Belisarius series, this exercise in historical and military sf should appeal to fans of alternate history. Recommended, along with other titles in the series (e.g., The Forge, The Chosen), for most sf collections.
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