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    THE TYRANT byt Eric Flint & David Drake


    BAEN, April 2002

    Justicar Demansk knows that the ancient Confederation of Vanbert is rotten. Too many aristocrats cling to the privileges of their office, oppress the people their ancestors conquered, and battle for power. Yet, what alternative exists. To the north, a pirate kingdom threatens mayhem. To the south, barbarian tribes often raid but have never been able to stand up to the Vanbert legions. Now, though, the southern tribes are aided by Adrian Gellert--the father of Demansk's grandson and sworn enemy to Vanbert. Still, a barbarian invasion, even one with weapons from the stars, offers little help for a better life. Demansk decides that the only solution is to become a traitor to his own country--to destroy the ancient democracy/plutocracy and install himself as Tyrant.

    Closely echoing the last days of the Roman Republic, THE TYRANT follows the paths of these two leaders as they bring their forces to bear on the aging Vanbert confederation. Modern gunpowder-based weapons give them an advantage, and Gellert's implanted intelligences give him insights into thousands of civilizations beyond the stars, yet can two men, however powerful and advantages, overthrow thousands of years of inertia?

    Authors Eric Flint (click here to see BooksForABuck reviews of other novels by this author) and David Drake (click here to see BooksForABuck reviews of other novels by this author) deliver an exciting retelling of the last days of ancient Rome--with just enough twists to keep the reader interested. The battle sequences are well detailed and give an interesting view of how Republican-era Roman-style legions might have fared had they faced gunpowder-based weapons, or been equipped with them.

    From a plot perspective, the inevitable alliance between Gellert and Demansk eliminated much of the uncertainty in the outcome. Armed with modern weapons, granted insight into social sciences far beyond those in their primative planet (or in Rome) and with a completely modern sense of Economics, Demansk and Gellert are virtually unstoppable. In contrast, Caesar had to face Pompey, a general as well equipped and with as great a reputation as Caesar's. Still, although the outcome is perhaps inevitable, Flint's writing keeps the reader glued to the page to see not what will happen, but how.

    Three Stars

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