RogerBW's Blog

The Tide of Victory, David Drake and Eric Flint 25 March 2022

2001 alternate-history war story, fifth of six books. Belisarius and his allies take the war to the Malwa, invading the subcontinent and pushing them back into their heartland.

The basic plot continues to be "the good guys win". Two significant characters die, one of them clearly through his own excessive bravery (I'd have liked to see more than passing acknowledgement that this was stupid and wasteful but the war needs a hero so he'll be made a hero anyway, but no matter); political marriages turn out to be love-matches. Competent soldiers are all good people, to the point of turning on their masters if pushed far enough into evil (i.e. inefficient) actions. These are all things one's probably reading the series for, by this point, so to complain about them seems unreasonable; but they do sometimes come over as rather simplistic and repetitive, as if the only way to reach the word count had been to turn the handle and crank out another set of scenes of basically the same things happening. Too many words, not quite enough plot and character to fill them. There is some intrigue regarding hostages that's reasonably well-handled, but it's spread thinly through the book.

I don't object to a well-written story of battle with interesting people in it. It's just that this well-written story of battle, in which the enemy has a cunning new weapon but so do we and we prevail because we're smarter even though they outnumber us, starts to feel a lot like that ditto from a few chapters ago, with only a little bit of non-fighty character stuff in between. There are geographical points of progress, but no qualitative ones: we start the book invading the Malwa lands, and we end it at a pause in the action with that invasion part-done and a forward strongpoint established. This is more the job of getting to where the climax can happen than it is the climax itself.

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Previous in series: Fortune's Stroke | Series: Belisarius | Next in series: The Dance of Time

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