Genre: alternate history
Length: 471 pages
Setting: 531 AD, Middle East/India
Interest: It was a random book I picked off my Kindle to read while I was camping.
Summary: Belisarius is a general in the Roman army, but he has a special gift – a crystal life-form from the future named Aide. Aide has traveled back in time to help fight an evil cyborg named Link who is trying to change the past to make a future more favorable to its species. Link has commandeered the Malwa Empire (out of India) to take over the world. It’s given the Malwas an edge by providing them with gunpowder weapons. The Malwas are trying to conquer Persia. The Persian Emperor sent an emissary to the Romans to join forces and crush the Malwa army. The Roman army also has gunpowder weapons, so they are able to take on the Malwas and, through Belisarius’ skill, defeat them. At the same time, there are several subplots involving an Empress-in-exile in India and trying to bring Alexandria back into the Roman fold.
Final thoughts: An interesting historical fiction story that seems to have been written to answer the question, “What if the Romans had gunpowder?” Turns out this is the third book in the series (it starts with An Oblique Approach) that follows Belisarius and the two creatures from the future. I could tell there was some backstory, but I didn’t feel lost. I did appreciate the fact that several women got their own storylines and had power in their own right. Overall, it’s a pretty good war story, with lots of strategy sessions to minimize bloodshed, but the author’s don’t shy away from the battles themselves.
Title comes from: Belisarius’ descendant are destined to create the crystal creatures that came back to help him. Link is trying to destroy that future, so Belisarius is a shield to protect his future.
Reading challenges fulfilled: 52/100 in my 100 Book Challenge, and a D in my title Alphabet Soup challenge.
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