Review of DESTINY'S SHIELD by Eric Flint & David Drake
The long expected Malwa invasion of Persia has finally struck and the Persians turn to their ancient enemies, the Byzantine Romans, for help. The ex-Emperor Justinian convinces Theodora to send Constantinople's greatest general--perhaps the greatest general in the history of the world--Belesarius to help. With only ten thousand soldiers, Belisarius will have to work a miracle to survive, let alone defeat the hordes of Malwa arriving from India. Fortunately, Belisarius has been planning a miracle for some time now. The stakes are high. The Malwa are led by Link--an intelligent artifact sent from the future with the goal of eliminating any notion of talent or freedom from the planet.
Belisarius defeats a raiding Malwa cavalry force as he approaches ancient Babylon where the Persian Emperor is beseiged. In the meantime, his Indian ally, Shakuntala, has begun her own campaign against the Malwa occupation of most of India. Belisarius's wife, Antonia is sent to Alexandria to reassert Roman Imperial authority (as was often the case in historical Byzantine Egypt, religious disputes threaten Roman rule) and to create an arsenal for her husband and Shakuntala--and the nucleus for a new front against the huge Malwa armies.
Authors Eric Flint (see other BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by this author) and David Drake (see other BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by this author) again combine in this third novel in the Belisarius series (see our reviews of AN OBLIQUE APPROACH and IN THE HEART OF DARKNESS. Flint and Drake deliver a powerful mix of military fantasy (what would Belisarius have done if he had access to effective gunpowder-based weapons), pure tactics, and touches of real historical research.
Even with the greatest general of history, the defeat of a super-intelligent artifact seems a little too easy and occasional modern themes creep in (would holy men like Michael really have been quite so broad-minded about the various Christian faiths at war with one another, and would Anthonia really have so actively worked to protect the Jews of Alexandria?) but that is largely quibbling. DESTINY'S SHIELD makes for a compelling and page-turning (or scroll-bar clicking) read.
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