Review: “Belisarius II: Storm at Noontide” by Eric Flint and David Drake

9781416591481Belisarius II: Storm at Noontide by Eric Flint and David Drake. 859 pages. Baen Books.

My daughter Melissa, the English major purist that she is, rolls her eyes when I talk about alternate history stories, as if they were worse that pornography. And I guess it is sort of an eye candy to me, especially when you couple the idea of what-if with good military history.

In the case of the Belisarius series, it’s the story of Byzantine Rome’s most famous general Belisarius who in this case is given the task of saving the world by, wait for it, a supercomputer from the future. Apparently in the far future, there is a war on between a cyborg race and a computer race that are our descendants. The evil cyborgs send Link, their representative, back to help change history and create a super-nation in India that will eventually take over and dominate the world. In response, the good supercomputers send Aide back to speak to Belisarius through a crystal the size of a grapefruit and help him understand the danger of this new rising nation. Both sides begin to assist their nations with technological advances such as gunpowder, stirrups for horses, rudimentary cannons and even the beginnings of muskets. Aide also assists Belisarius by letting him see future battles such as Napoleon’s Pennisular Campaign and Stalingrad of World War II to learn new tactics.

The idea sounds pretty far fetched, but the two authors make it work well. Storylines and characters are well thought out and fleshed out. Drake comes up with the concepts and Flint, as I understand it, wrote the details of the book. This is the second book in a trilogy. At 859 pages, it sounds like it would be a handful, but it’s actually two smaller paperback books—Destiny’s Shield and Fortune’s Stroke–that have been combined in a hardback. I stumbled across the first book in this series a few years ago when I was killing time in a library, fell in love with it, and bought it later. When I finished it, I went on and bought the two sequels, which promptly sat in my library for several years. So this is my first chance to read the second volume. The third volume will probably be read sometime soon.

If you are partial to military science fiction, alternate history, or both, I recommend this series.

Five of five stars.