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An Oblique Approach (Belisarius #1)

4.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,226 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
Only three things stand between the Malwa and the conquest of Earth: Byzantium, the empire of Rome in the East; a crystal that urges mankind to fight; and Belisarius, general of the Byzantine Empire, and arguably the greatest commmander the Earth has ever known.
Paperback, 374 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
66th out of 625 books — 939 voters
Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardStarship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinOld Man's War by John ScalziOn Basilisk Station by David WeberThe Forever War by Joe Haldeman
Best Military Science Fiction Books
108th out of 583 books — 657 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jan 24, 2012 Eveningstar2 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 26, 2010 Joseph rated it really liked it
Shelves: military-fiction
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
Aug 30, 2012 Dorian rated it really liked it
Shelves: other-ebooks
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
Apr 20, 2014 YouKneeK rated it really liked it
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
Nov 22, 2013 Ron rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, humor, ebook
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
Dec 28, 2014 Nate rated it really liked it
Shelves: antiquity
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
Feb 16, 2013 Adriaan Brae rated it it was amazing
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 *
Kat Kirkpatrick
This was tough to understand for the first few chapters. I think this was mostly because I am unfamiliar with the historical era the action is happening in. I did a bit of research into the Holy Roman Empire and what the rest of the world was like during the early days of Christianity (thank you Wikipedia), and suddenly I wasn't confused any more. If you have trouble understanding what is going on that early on, I'd suggest doing the same thing.

As to the story itself, I really, really, liked it.
Mar 02, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it

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
Jun 14, 2009 Ralph McEwen rated it really liked it
Read as an ebook. A free download from \\ Baen Free Library.
Jeremy Preacher
May 20, 2015 Jeremy Preacher rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, historical
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
Sep 01, 2011 Annette rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 14, 2012 Nathan rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 30, 2011 Andreas rated it liked it
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
Dec 14, 2009 Snezan rated it it was ok
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 really liked it
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.
Dec 01, 2012 John rated it really liked it
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
Aug 11, 2010 Curt Lorde rated it really liked it
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
Durval Menezes
This is one *great* book, both it and the series it belongs are among the best I've ever read. Strongly recommended!
Jun 15, 2012 Max rated it really liked it
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
Jan 09, 2012 Joe S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
James Willey
Jan 28, 2016 James Willey rated it really liked it
Interesting alternate history. Has a lot of sword play and intrigue.
Jamie Corbett
Sep 02, 2015 Jamie Corbett rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved the characters, plot and setting!
Alan T
Jan 07, 2016 Alan T rated it it was amazing
Excellent book from an excellent author.
Vasil Kolev
May 13, 2015 Vasil Kolev rated it really liked it
Very, very good, although a bit long-winded.
Stupid but kind of fun. Unusal choice of setting.
Jan 16, 2016 Mark rated it really liked it
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
Mar 31, 2015 Ric rated it really liked it
Shelves: evan-currie
Both fun and spacey.
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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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