Whoa…An Oblique Approach is the first in the Belisarius series, a somewhat paranormal historical fiction series. Somewhat paranormal as the entire story revolves around a “live” crystal which shows the future to anyone who holds it. Set in Constantinople in 528 in the reign of the Emperor Justinian with his Empress Theodora, the crystal, it appears, has been seeking General Belisarius, a soldier who is not a warrior. A man of compassion and intelligence who can change the future and defeat the Malwa.
This was a fascinating story of tactics of war and politics in the Byzantine court. Flint and Drake create characters with whom one identifies and roots strongly for victory (or defeat!). And, yeah, the title so fits this story. The crystal definitely takes an oblique approach to achieving its aims.
In the Heart of Darkness is the second installment in the Belisarius series. Our heroes are off to India to spy on the Malwa in 529 A.D. General Belisarius firmly believes in knowing one’s enemy and he is determined to wrest the secret of the Malwan weapons to use on the behalf of Constantinople. With the help of a new ally, Prince Eon of the Auxmites. Merging their small entourages together, Belisarius and Eon penetrate India, the heart of darkness, the conquered lands of the Malwa to learn what they can.
Lots of adventures and action, rescuing a princess, thwarting an alien entity, escaping a massive manhunt only to arrive back in Constantinople in time to put down a coup d’etat against Justinian. I rather envy Belisarius his crystal as it aids him in learning languages, interpreting the weapons used by the Malwa, and planning their improvement.
Flint and Drake create such incredible characters—there were even a couple on the enemy side for whom I have hopes! I’m very anxious to discover how the new Empress fares against the Malwa with her allies.
Man, I cannot wait to start the third in the series, Destiny’s Shield.