I have always had an interest in alternative history – both the “what if?” genre and the interfering time traveller or message genre and it was the masterpiece of the Belisarius Saga that really got me into it. The series covers 6 books and is epic in scope.
At this point, there’s a good chance you’re wondering who Belisarius is – the name might be a little familiar but most people won’t be able to place him. He was one of the last great Roman generals from the time when the Roman empire was turning into the Byzantium Empire and successfully re-conquered the western Mediterranean increasing the size of the Roman Empire by almost 50%. He suffered some tactical defeats but strategically went his entire career without being defeated. In short – a very competent and gifted soldier. The Saga takes place when he is still in his early 30’s with him and has him opposing the Indian Malwa empire which has been gifted with future knowledge and leadership and looks likely to take over and destroy western civilization.
The six books cover Belisarius’ first interactions with the Malawa, building Roman strength to meet the Malawa invasion and the brutal slogging match to push them back to India followed by the Roman invasion of India. The books don’t just have Belisarius but a historically accurate range of characters forced in the new situation and written to react as they would. The books also cover a thousand years of military technology starting with stirrups which were unknown and ending up with near WWII tech and do it logically and in a well-reasoned way.
Price: ± Available for free if you jump through a few hoops at the Fifth Imperium on their 1635 CD or more conveniently at Amazon for £5.50 for two books.
About David Drake and Eric Flint
David Drake specializes in science fiction and fantasy literature. A Vietnam War veteran who has worked as a lawyer, he is now one of the major authors of the military science fiction genre. He is best known for the Hammer’s Slammers series, The General Series and the RCN Series.
Eric Flint is an American author, an editor whose main works are alternate history science fiction, but he also writes humorous fantasy adventures. He has been writing full time since 1999 and is also a notable activist for DRM free content online. His most popular series has been the alternate history 1632.
- Genre: Alternative History / Sci-fi
- Target age range: Teens, Adults, Older Adults
The books are (in order):
- An Oblique Approach (1998)
- In the Heart of Darkness (1998)
- Destiny’s Shield (1999)
- Fortune’s Stroke (2000)
- The Tide of Victory (2001)
- The Dance of Time (2006)
They were reissued as dual volumes:
There is also a short story: Islands by Eric Flint in The Warmasters
The series’s publisher Baen chose with Flint’s support to make the first four books available with recopying allowed for free. They have since stopped offering the books from their site but there are third parties who still (with Baen’s blessing) offer the first four books for free. The last two books are available as a single volume for £5.49 making this a very well priced read and one that you don’t have to pay for until you get well entrenched into overall.
Pages: 784 + 880 + 928 = 1762
Available formats: Kindle Edition, Paperback, Hardcover,
Publisher: Baen Books
Release date: 1998 onwards
Word Wise: Enabled
Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
A Kindle capable device.
If you are interested in military sci-fi, the Romans and alternative history then the Belisarius saga is a must-read. If you’re just interested in military sci-fi then it’s a good deep read that will introduce you to a type of sci-fi and military technology that is intriguing. The series is complex and does take a little work to get into particularly if you’re not already familiar with the characters, but it’s well worth the effort. Recommended.
The review is based on the original six volumes of the Belisarius Saga. This article was first published on 26 June 2016 and last updated on 14 November 2016.