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Fortune's Stroke by David Drake and Eric Flint
Published by Baen Books
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
It's a strange world in which Byzantine and Persian, long implacable enemies, stand together against an enemy that has risen from the heart of India. But Belisarius has gotten used to extraordinary things ever since the arrival of the intelligent crystal Aide from the distant future, bearing tidings of horrors that must be averted if humanity is to be saved.
Now Belisarius continues his desperate fight in Mesopotamia, in the cradle of Western civilization. To prevail against the Malwa horde, he must weld together an army of Kushan slaves and give hope to captives who have been bereft of all hope.
Meanwhile, his wife Antonina has gone to Axum to further cement the alliance between Constantinople and this Christian kingdom in the Ethiopian highlands. Prince Eon and his entourage proved the worth of his people during Belisarius' scouting trip into the heart of Malwa, and now Antonina is visiting his homeland as a witness to his accession to adulthood as the second in line to the throne. But Malwa treachery has insinuated its deadly tentacles here as well, in the form of a terroristic attempt on the lives of the royal family. By sheer luck of a last-minute change of plans, Prince Eon escapes the fate of his father and older brother, and now is the leader of his people in a war of grim resolution against the Malwa.
And in the heart of India, Shakuntala continues her fight to weld together the few remaining independent principalities as a fighting force against the Malwa. Unfortunately, far too many of them would prefer to buy temporary peace than stand up and fight.
Even with so much ranged against them, the Malwa are not an easy foe to defeat. They have Link, the mysterious cyborg thinking machine from the unimaginable future, sent to create the future that Aide is sworn to prevent.
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Review posted April 10, 2003
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