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    Review of IN THE HEART OF DARKNESS by David Drake and Eric Flint

    Baen Books, 1999

    Byzantine general Belisarius (possibly the greatest general in the history of the world) is in India spying on the Indian military machine that threatens first Persia and then Imperial Rome. By pretending to be a traitor, Belisarius worms his way high into the council of Malwa spies and learns the premature secrets of Malwa power--the use of gunpowder in granades and rockets. But Belisarius's spying is risky: a post-human intelligence drives the Malwa on and can compell mere humans, even Belisarius, to tell the truth.

    If Belisarius can be stopped within the boundaries of the Indian empire, the Malwa will be able to strike the heart of Constantinople, destroying the Roman Empire from within. And how can a single man hope to survive with tens of thousands of soldiers set against him. Yet, if Belisarius fails, humanity's future will become one of breeding and stagnation rather than progress, talent, and hope.

    Back in the Byzantine empire, Justinian continues to distrust those most loyal to him--including Belisarius--and allows the Malwa spy masters to hire the Hippodrome mobs (the famous Green and Blue factions of the historical Nike revolt) to tear the city apart. With a stiffening of Malwa soldiers, gunpowder weapons, and the purchased loyalty of Justinian's second great general--Narses, the end of history seems certain.

    Authors Eric Flint (see reviews of other novels by this author) and David Drake (see reviews of other novels by this author) deliver an exciting adventure tale. They've clearly done their research and their descriptions of both late Roman military tactics and the political situation in Constantinople ring true. Although the constant action may reduce the character development to a certain extent, especially when compared to AN OBLIQUE APPROACH (see our review of this earlier novel in the Belisarius series), IN THE HEART OF DARKNESS is an enjoyable read.

    Three Stars

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