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Destiny's Shield by David Drake and Eric Flint
Published by Baen Books
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
It's a strange world that Belisarius now inhabits, one unimaginably changed fro the one that history records. Because of the interference of the time-traveling Link, another time-traveler, the crystaline Aide, has come to help Belisarius prevent an even more terrible change.
Now the Emperor Justinian is deposed and bitter old man, blinded so that he may no longer rule. In his place rules Photius, Belisarius' stepson, adopted by Justinian and Theodora and guided while still in his minority by the dowager empress. And an even more extraordinary thing is happening -- Persia is sending an envoy to Byzantium to ask for help in combatting the menace from the east.
It should be unthinkable. Byzantium and Persia have been enemies for generations, squabbling over bits of land on the boundary between Syria and Mesopotamia. But such is the threat of the Malwa Empire which has arisen in India that Byzantium and Persia must either set aside their old grudges and fight side by side or they will assuredly be defeated separately in turn.
And all is not well in the Eastern Roman Empire's breadbasket. Religious schismatics are threatening trouble in Alexandria and all along the Nile. With Belisarius gone to face the Malwa threat in Mesopotamia, who is left to deal with the snake in their own garden?
Meanwhile, back in India, the youthful Empress Shakuntala struggles to hold together her newly reconstituted country as a force in opposition to the Malwa. But that's rather difficult to do when her empire consists of one city not overly happy to have her there.
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Review posted April 10, 2003
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