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An Oblique Approach (Belisarius #1)

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  2,913 ratings  ·  51 reviews
An alien intelligence from beyond time is using the Malwa Empire as a tool to conquer sixth century Earth. Standing against them is Belisarius, Earth's greatest commander, with all eternity at stake.
Paperback, 480 pages
Published December 28th 2004 by Baen Books (first published July 1st 1998)
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Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardStarship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinOld Man's War by John ScalziThe Forever War by Joe HaldemanOn Basilisk Station by David Weber
Military Science Fiction
58th out of 583 books — 873 voters
Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardStarship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinOld Man's War by John ScalziThe Forever War by Joe HaldemanOn Basilisk Station by David Weber
Best Military Science Fiction Books
95th out of 469 books — 583 voters

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Community Reviews

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Some of the best-written trash I've ever read. Trash, by the way, is a perfectly legitimate genre. There is good trash and then there is bad trash. Never turn down the opportunity to read good trash.

This is pulpy, ridiculous, muscular, high-adventure alternate history with totally implausible science fiction trappings. In fact, "An Oblique Approach" is a horrible misnomer. They should call it, "A Shameless Approach."

I don't think this book cares at all about historical accuracy, plausibility, O
This is a review of the entire six-book alt-historical military fiction series (there does not appear to be an omnibus edition that I can attach it to, sigh).

It's very much light literature: there is a science-fictional justification for the authors' mucking about with their historical setting, but it's silly and not really very important anyway. I strongly suspect they basically went "wouldn't it be cool if we could give the great Belisarius gunpowder technology and see what he'd do with it", a
1. This is really Eric Flint writing from David Drake's outline.
2. Compare to S.M. Stirling writing from David Drake's outline in the Raj Whitehall Series.
3. It's great stuff. Great characters, great action, interesting technology and speculation.
4. If there is a primary fault, I think it's spreading the action too thin - there are always multiple plot lines to follow (as might be expected from a multi-national war and conspiracy plotline), and I found myself wondering on occasion which bizarre
Typical Eric Flint: inventive story, great storytelling.

Historical fiction in only the loosest sense of the term, An Oblique Approach uses the persons and places of the sixth century as a springboard to a fanciful, fun adventure. Along the way, Flint's protagonist (Belisarius, arguably the best field commander in history) collects the usual--for Flint fiction--band of allies and followers and takes on the world.

Unlike Guy Kay's Sarantium Mosaic series, Flint doesn't delve deeply into the comple
I had rather hoped I would hate this book. Seriously. Many years ago, when I first purchased my Kindle, I downloaded dozens of books from the Baen free library. That included the first four books in this series. Those books, along with many other free/cheap books that I downloaded around that time period, have resulted in an overwhelmingly large list of books that I’m still trying to work my way through. So I thought, if I didn’t like this book, then I could delete the other three books and make ...more
Okay...I know you guys are all rolling your eyes at the cover/synopsis to this book...and it is hideously nerdy and silly sounding, but since I resignedly watched the ashes of my Cool Card blow away in the wind many years ago this was a really fun and rewarding book. It combines a few genres to interesting effect, being a kind of "alternate historical science fiction" mutant beast. It's about the famous Byzantine ("Wahhh they considered and called themselves Romans and there was arguably no disc ...more
Adriaan Brae
The mix of Drake's driving battlefield action and Flint's combination of deep philosophy and charming irreverence makes for a great read.

This is very much in the heroic fantasy mode with larger-than-life characters though the underpinnings are SF. On one level it’s an alternate history romp across the ancient world with rapidly evolving technology. On another it’s a philosophical essay on the very meaning of humanity.

The idea that core ‘human’ values like Freedom, Compassion, Curiosity and Love,
Coyora Dokusho
Read at least (3) times

I think I read this series more than that too, but I can't remember exactly, this is at least my third time reading it though.

I talked to my dad for the first time today and cried a little during the conversation. He was... glad! I called and told me that he wants me to be happy. It's amazing feeling wanted like that. I'm still avoiding doing my homework though XD. I'm really glad I chose to read this again while I was going through this, reading about good people, being *

In northern India the Malwa have created an empire of unexampled evil. Guided or possessed by an intelligence from beyond time, with new weapons, old treachery, and an implacable will to power, the Malwa will sweep over the whole Earth. Only three things stand between the Malwa and their plan of eternal domination: Byzantium. The Empire of Rome in the East. Compared to what the Malwa are creating, think of it as Camelot.A crystal with a vision. It brings a warning for all mankind regarding the M

Ralph McEwen
Read as an ebook. A free download from \\ Baen Free Library.
Jeremy Preacher
I can't decide if this is a totally underrated series or if I should feel slightly guilty about liking it as much as I do. Probably both. It's historical sci-fi, which is a subgenre I can't always get into, as I'm not particularly a history geek, and it's also almost pure military porn, which I like rather more than I can explain.

The best thing about the book is the banter. It's totally anachronistic, but it's funny, and for pure pulp like this, that's all I care about. The second-best thing abo
A lot of historical fiction attempts to make the story realistic by using accurate, actual slang and recreating the actual style of speech. Unfortunately, that language and manner of speech usually appears stuffy/antiquated/bizarre/etc to modern readers. So the language pulls a very different reaction from readers than it would have from people in the time period the story takes place in. (I hope that makes sense.) At any rate, Flint and Drake don't use much period terms or attempt to mimic the ...more
Picked this up from Baen's free electronic library. I've read stories by both Drake and Flint in the past, or at least collaborations, but never really followed either author. I was therefore really pleased to find myself enjoying this story so much. (And even more so to find that the next several volumes are also free at Baen!)

I've remarked in the past that I've learned more history from so-called alternate history (especially Turtledove Harry and Neal Stephenson) then I ever did from school.
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Military SciFi/Alternate history in which an evil empire appears in India in the fifth century. Famous historical general Belisarius receives a warning from the future and must counter the threat. This series goes deeper into philosophical and poetical tangents than similar works. Eric Flint’s classic wry humour pervades the prose. The books can almost be read as historical novels and contain quite a few interesting tidbits about the period. The series consist of:

An Oblique Approach
In The Hear
Alternative history is a strange kind of world. The authors will spend months, if not years researching real life events, real life characters, plotting maps and following conquests that happened in humanity's history. Then they will purposefully twist their own work by imagining a single event while splits the timeline into uncharted territory and create a narrative following the exploits of the real life figures who lived in that time. A lot of work goes into these what-if imaginings and it sh ...more
Mar 05, 2011 Matthew rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of 1632 or S.M. Stirling's alt-history works
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The entertaining and gripping tale of Belisarius, a fifth-century general of the (Eastern) Roman Empire under the emperor Justinian. And yet, it's not really historical fiction, as there's a science-fiction twist that significantly changes things. Technically, saying more about the twist would be a spoiler; however, it's mentioned right on the front cover (at least of the paperback edition I have), so it's not exactly going to be a surprise for most readers. Still, try not to read the outside of ...more
Curt Lorde
An Alternate History/SciFi/Sword&Sorcery adventure that is not West-centric. The hero happens to be the great captain of the Eastern Roman Empire, Belisarius of the time of Justinian in the Sixth Century A.D. The opponents representing both the old terrors of the "eastern hordes" and the alien influenced masses, the Malwa of northern India. Soon to be allies include a young prince of a Sudanic Nile kingdom and his two elite guardsmen and former Persian enemies. For me a perfect mix of histor ...more
Well, 4 stars, eh? Yes, indeed, and it all comes down to characters. The plot is a big, rambling, horribly padded thing, and it is really just shameless how much foot dragging goes on to make sure this is a multi....volume......series. However, I liked each and every character in this story, and I find myself wanting to see what happens to absolutely every one of them next. That counts for a hell of a lot in my corner, and it handily overcomes some awkward writing and eye-rolling attempts at pos ...more
Joe S
Well Done. Very well done, in fact. David Drake and Eric Flint do a wonderful job of taking historical fiction (or, psuedo-historical fiction, anyhow) and weaving in character and plot development that pays the reader back for his attention.

Kudos, also, to Tor/Baen, and their approach to e-books. The first three books in the Belisarius series are available as free downloads from the publisher, and I'll definitely be spending my money on the following books, directly from Baen.
Jamie Corbett
Absolutely loved the characters, plot and setting!
Vasil Kolev
Very, very good, although a bit long-winded.
Stupid but kind of fun. Unusal choice of setting.
Nov 13, 2015 Mark rated it 4 of 5 stars
If you like military fantasy you will love this book. And I'm not talking fantasy of the usual sort, this book is more of a what if taking place in the ancient world. What if Rome had to accelerate their technology to defeat an evil encroaching on the world? And what if there was one Roman General who was in contact with some future device that helped him do this?
The story is very interesting, the central character, the Roman General is very very interesting and I really like how he approaches t
Both fun and spacey.
Warren Watts
I wasn't sure at first I was a big fan of the writing style; it seemed a bit juvenile. But the book grew on me. Set in the world of the Byzantine empire during Emperor Justinian's rule (527–565 AD) the story is centered around Belisarius, a brilliant general who historically played a large part in expanding the empire during his time as a general in the empire's military.

Ultimately I really enjoyed the story. Filled with bits of humor and great plot twists, it proved to be a highly entertaining
Debra Meyer
unexpected lines that had me almost peeing my pants in laughter. Its not often I read a book that is mostly warfare that has me giggling so easily and so often and putting up with the language which got a bit much towards the end of the book but it was too good a book to not finish even with the exasperation of the F word being used so much with no real need to do so IMHO.
Better than book #2 (read out of sequence). I'll finish the series but this isn't exactly the best written Hard SF / Military SF.

While some technology does occur out of sequence with our timeline (hence the SF element), the period correct terminology of the Byzantine empire was pretty interesting. The Kindle's handy word lookup feature was quite useful here.
Keith Lowe
I only wish I could give it more than 5 stars! This book(series) has everything for me - great military action, engaging and well-developed characters, and wonderfully written dialog. It is the kind of book that makes me want to write myself. I just admire everything about this book, especially the fact that it is just so fun to read!
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David Drake is an American author of science fiction and fantasy literature. A Vietnam War veteran who has worked as a lawyer, he is now one of the major authors of the military science fiction genre.
More about David Drake...

Other Books in the Series

Belisarius (6 books)
  • In the Heart of Darkness (Belisarius, #2)
  • Destiny's Shield (Belisarius, #3)
  • Fortune's Stroke (Belisarius, #4)
  • The Tide of Victory (Belisarius, #5)
  • The Dance of Time (Belisarius, #6)

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