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In the Heart of Darkness by David Drake and Eric Flint
Published by Baen Books
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
Guided by Aide, the intelligent crystal from the unimaginably distant future, Belisarius has traveled to India to scout the Malwa Empire and learn the nature of the threat it poses to Constantinople. Among his entourage he has hidden a young woman whom he rescued from one of the Malwa's most cruel lieutenants, the beautiful Shakuntala who may be able to unite India's most stubborn and self-reliant people against the Malwa. However, the time is not yet right to help her slip away to her own people, but every day she remains in Belisarius' entourage, she risks being discovered and destroying all their plans.
For Belisarius is being avidly courted by the Malwa as a possible traitor. Now that the Malwa are aware of Constantinople and the power it represents, they are working on bringing it down from within, in hopes of sparing themselves the problem of conquering it by force of arms -- unlike the vision that Aide gave Belisarius of Constantinople in flames, overrun by the Malwa's hordes of barbarian mercenaries.
Belisarius pretends interest in the Malwa schemes in order to learn more about the mysterious being that guides their forces, the cybernetic Link that came back from the future that Aide is so desperately trying to prevent. But deception can be a two-edged sword, and one's friends can be taken in by it as easily as one's enemies.
Meanwhile, ambitious elements within Constantinople are gleefully giving aid and comfort to Malwa treachery and plotting against the Emperor Justinian. Can Belisarius complete his mission in India and return home quickly enough to make sure that he still has a home to return to?
Click here to order In the Heart of Darkness in mass-market paperback.
Review posted April 10, 2003
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