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The Dance of Time (The Belisarius Series) [Hardcover]

Eric Flint , David Drake
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Feb 2006
The Malwa and their evil have been driven back to their Indian heartland, but there they coil to strike again. Ruled by a monster from the future that is part computer and part demon, they prepare a fresh attack whose success will leave them rulers of the world - and the monster that guides the Malwa will rule the whole future! Belisarius, the greatest general of his age, has arrayed the forces of Mankind against the Malwa evil. On his breast is the jewel sent to his support from a future of hope and freedom, willing to guide him but never to direct his actions. Behind him are allies from across Europe, Asia and Africa-mutually distrustful but aware that neither they nor Mankind have any hope if the Malwa prevail. Belisarius faces armies and assassins, ruthless brutality and inhuman cruelty. There is no hope for Mankind if he fails - so he must not fail!

Product details

  • Hardcover: 468 pages
  • Publisher: Baen Books (1 Feb 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416509313
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416509318
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 3.6 x 16.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,985,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Drake and Flint have devised an intriguing premise and developed it intelligently...a winner" Publisher's Weekly"

About the Author

David Drake was attending Duke University Law School when he was drafted. He served the next two years in the Army, spending 1970 as an enlisted interrogator with the 11th armored Cavalry in Viet Nam and Cambodia. Upon return he completed his law degree at Duke and was for eight years Assistant Town Attorney for Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He has been a full-time freelance writer since 1981. Besides the bestselling Hammer s Slammers series, his books for Baen include the Lt. Leary series, the latest being "The Way to Glory," and the Belisarius series, written in collaboration with Eric Flint, of which "The Dance of Time" is the sixth and concluding novel. Eric Flint is the "New York Times" best-selling author of the Ring of Fire alternate history series, the first of which is "1632." His impressive first novel, "Mother of Demons" (Baen), was selected by "SF Chronicle" as one of the best novels of 1997. With David Drake he has written six popular novels in the Belisarius series, including the concluding novel "The Dance of Time," and with David Weber collaborated on "1633," a novel in the Ring of Fire series, and on "Crown of Slaves," a best of the year pick by "Publishers Weekly." Flint received his masters degree in history from UCLA and was for many years a labor union activist. He lives in East Chicago, IL, with his wife and is working on more books in the best-selling Ring of Fire series. --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Final Battle 11 Jan 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Finally the series comes to an end. It's a long one, but by the time you reach the conclusion it feels well deserved. This book is a bit of a confusing mess, not because it is poorly written but because everything is going to pieces faster than you can keep track of. The story still maintains its sense of adventure, it just covers a lot of ground for one book. Most of the plot threads get wrapped up nicely. It's not too much of a spoiler to say that Belisarius wins since he's won every battle in the series. It's just a question of how he does it, and the tactics are, as ever, interesting and original.

This book is a sequel to The Tide of Victory, but I'd be amiss if I didn't mention that the entire series has been released in better editions. Aside from the free ebooks available at the Baen website, they've released the series as a trilogy with two books to each volume. Belisarius I: Thunder at Dawn contains the first two books, Belisarius II: Storm at Noontide contains the middle two, and Belisarius III: The Flames of Sunset this one and The Tide of Victory. I'd recommend buying them that way since these books really work better in twos than on their own. The first two books take place in Rome/India, the second two in Persia, and the final two in India. A clear division.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Belasarius rocks! 14 Aug 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Brilliant conclusionFlint and Drake excel at this style and I thoroughly enjoyed this. Will keep to re-read time and again.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A grand conclusion. 22 Feb 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Unfortunately it had to happen at some point, the conculsion of the Belisaruis series...

I found it to be a great read all in all. There where places in this the last book I could have wished for more detail, more pages or just that the series wasn't ending. But I must say that Eric Flint and David Drake have pulled off a conclusion to a series that in my mind is right up there at the top of the stack in science fiction!

In case you don't recall, the series contains these books: An Oblique Approach, In the Heart of Darkness, Destiny's Shield, Fortune's Stroke, The Tide of Victory, The Dance of Time.

In many tales of Science Fiction AI spells the downfall of humanity. We see it in film and print and it is becoming a phobia of the technology set even today.

But here is a tale that says "No". A machine, no matter how smart, possessing no matter how much information of science and the history of war is no match for a human. Oh this is unmistakeably a human who is one in millions. But a being of flesh, bone and of breath none-the-less.

It is in this tale that the authors show us what loyality and belief in a cause can do. What one man, one person can summon up to destroy evil. Oh it is a fictional series we say... But our history is full of men and woman who in greater or lesser measure have step in to the breach and for an measure of time, some longer than others have, have held the forcess of darkness at bay.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written conclusion to exciting series 28 Aug 2006
By booksforabuck - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Belisarius, the Roman/Byzantine General has ended the perpetual Roman wars with the Persian Empire and created a rebellion among the nomadic tribes which formed the shock troops of the Malwa armies. Now Roman and Persian troops stand at the banks of the Indus river. But the Malwa are not without resources. The entire wealth and population of India are at their service, and the mathmatical mind of Link, a computer sent from the future, is calculating the optimal strategy for reversing the Roman advances and turning the tide once more. After all, India has eternity on its side.

Belisarius, with his futuristic crystal-computer-friend, Aide, suspects that the Malwa will eventually self-destruct, but eventually is too long. He's always looking for a shorter path, a route which, while possibly violent, can convert tens of millions of casualties into tens of thousands. Even if millions are needed, though, Belisarius is willing to pay the price. He's seen the future where Link wins--a future where all of mankind is brought under Link's heel and where progress is stamped out. Fortunately, Link has access to all of the world's great battles, but lacks much imagination--and Belisarius is counting on that to doom the Malwa plans.

Authors Eric Flint and David Drake zoom from protagonist to protagonist as they take the reader from the siege warfare at the Indus river across the deserts of western India, into the Hindu Kush mountains and the Khyber Pass, and into Kausambi, the very capital of the Malwa Empire.

THE DANCE OF TIME is the sixth and final novel in the Belisarius series. By this time, the basic military innovations created by Link and Aide are fully in place. Rather than relying on sword and spear, Roman Cataphracts carried muskets and the army had developed siege cannons, mines, telegraphs, and ironclads as well. Rather than concentrate on these, Flint and Drake put the focus on the rebel Damodara, and his attempt to save his family before Link and the Emperor Skandagupta are able to hunt them down.

Fans of this series (like me) will enjoy seeing the conclusion as the military genius of Belisarius is pitted against the sheer computational abilities of Link. Although many of the modern innovations have already taken place, a charming sub-plot involving the creation of a sort of Red Cross shows the diffusion of knowledge and creativity beyond the circle immediately influenced by Aide and Belisarius.

Flint and Drake are polished writers and THE DANCE OF TIME shows it. Still, I think the book, and indeed the whole series, would have been more enjoyable if Belisarius's plans didn't always go right, if he had to extemporize more often. After all, detailed long-term planning is where Link should be strongest, not Belisarius. This book probably won't make much sense, and certainly won't be enjoyable, to readers who haven't already read the earlier books in the series. If you have read them, though, you won't want to miss this exciting conclusion.
21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars series runs out of momentum 14 May 2006
By Mike Garrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is the final book in a six book series, so it cannot really be reviewed as a stand-alone item. I will assume the reader has read the other books before starting on this one.

But if you have, then what should you expect from the finale? Not much, really. Unfortunately this is a case of a series that started out very strong and eventually drifted into mediocrity. The long gap between the release of the fifth book and publication of this final one made it even worse for people reading the books in "real time"; the momentum of the story was strongly disrupted.

But even if you start with the first book (An Oblique Approach) right now and read all six without any delays, you will likely find the last few books to be disappointing. Unlike the first books, there is none of the fun derived from "inventing" industrialized warfare in the middle of the sixth century AD. And there are no real surprises left in the story. It is sort of like watching a videotaped ballgame when you already know the outcome.

The most interest that the book develops does not even have to do with the main story -- it involves a side plot about the creation of something along the lines of the International Red Cross.

But the biggest problem is that the characters have stopped being people and have become caricatures of themselves. This was a problem that the first few books struggled with, but in this one the struggle is over and the authors have lost. The accumulated in-jokes and references to established character traits have completely overwhelmed the characters themselves. Which is a shame, because some of them were quite interesting once upon a time.

I suspect the authors took so long to come out with this book because even they realized that they probably should have wrapped things up more quickly.

I'm not at all suggesting that a fan of the series will not want to read this conclusion. But the truth is, it doesn't really live up to the promise of the first few books. Alas.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth the wait. An awesome conclusion to the series. 4 May 2006
By Geoffrey Kidd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
All good things must come to an end. The ONLY thing I hated about this book was that it is the last in the marvelous series that began with "An Oblique Approach", and continued with "In the Heart of Darkness", "Destiny's Shield", "Fortune's Stroke",and "The Tide of Victory." I've reviewed all of them in glowing terms, and I'm happy to say the final book is worthy of its predecessors.

In many ways, this book comes down to the "bunker scene." We start out KNOWING the vile Malwa Empire is doomed, but Flint and Drake draw dramatic tension from other problems. Will LINK, the monster from the future escape, possibly to start over again and succeed next time? What sort of peace can people who have spent years as enemies create? How will the various empires fare, in a new history where the industrial revolution has been kicked off a millennium early?

Flint and Drake show us all of the above and more, along with incidents funny and tragic, grand and small, as this story sweeps toward a conclusion both victorious and tragic. For examples, I'm never going to forget the Parable of the Onions. Or the Great Gamble... Or the Mongoose and his pupil... Or Calopodius... Or The Wife... and all the rest of the treasures, laughter, and tears this book holds.

This series, as a whole, is a magnificent tapestry, with threads artfully woven together and apart, forming a marvelous and beautiful whole.

Thank you Eric and David.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest General of All History? 22 Jun 2006
By Arthur W. Jordin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The Dance of Time (2006) is the sixth novel in the Belisarius Series, following The Tide of Victory. In the previous volume, the allies have forced the Malwa back into northern India. Calopodius is blinded while commanding the defense of Bakkur Island. Narses has faked the death of Rana Sanga's wife and children and left them in the custody of Lady Damodara. The Damodara palace cellars are also a refuge for the family of Dadaji Holkar and the Roman cataphracts Valentinian and Anastasius.

In this novel, Damodara finds himself under heavy pressure from the Mahaveda priests. When Rana Sanga says that he believes his family to still be alive, Damodara immediately thinks of Narses, the master manipulator. Then Narses confirms his suspicions and tells them the current location of the family. Damodara is quite irritated, but also feels a sense of relief; the die is cast and he is now free to pursue his own destiny.

Calopodius finds a niche for himself as the director of communications for Belisarius. He also begins writing an official history of the war and the unofficial, but highly regarded, Dispatches to the Army. The wife of Calopodius the Blind pursues her husband into India, leaving confusion, better sanitation, and effective hospitals along her path.

The Empress Regent Theodora allows the young Emperor Photius and his consort to travel to India by way of Egypt and Ethiopia. Antonina appoints Ousanas as angabo and husband of Eon's widow Rukaiya, then takes Ousanas out of Ethiopia with the Emperor's progression. Agathius and his wife join the progression at Charax.

This series is another tale based on the life of Belisarius, arguably the best general of the Eastern Roman Empire. He may have been the best general of all time, but his strategy and tactics were based on the archaic war machines of his age. Thus Belisarius cannot be directly compared with Napoleon, Robert E. Lee, or other modern generals.

Several science fiction and alternate history tales have provided Belisarius, or his equivalent, with artillery and other advanced weapons. Yet such fiction proves nothing about his inherent capability to accept and use such tools. However, it does prove the respect of these authors.

This series is unusual in that such advanced weapons were developed from existing materials and technologies. Only the basic knowledge was imported from the future. In that respect, this series is much like De Camp's Lest Darkness Fall.

Highly recommended for Flint & Drake fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of great generals, psychological warfare, and battles against horrendous odds.

-Arthur W. Jordin
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