An Oblique Approach

By David Drake

Baen’s Free Library is a great institution. Lots of titles from Baen’s back catalog are available in html, word or another format, freely downloadable, freely readable. No conditions, nothing. And since I don’t usually read (the covers tend to be somewhat off-putting…) what Baen publishes, this is the perfect way of making the acquaintance of what their authors write.

  • Author: David Drake
  • Title: An Oblique Approach
  • Published: 1998
  • Publisher: Baen
  • ISBN: 0671878654

An Oblique Approach is the first in a series of five. The first three books are avaible for free, the fourth and fifth can be partially sampled, but if your appetite is whetted, you’ll want to buy dead-trees copies.

And it is quite possible that you’d get an appetite for the series. There are many faults, but the story is exciting, the writing is fast-paced and there are a lot of very likeable characters. The scope is wide, much of the history is familiar, even though it is twisted a bit here and there, and perhaps none too accurate in other places.

In this first book, Belisarius, the famous East-Roman general, receives a mysterious intelligent jewel from the future, recognized by leading Church authorities as the Talisman of God. This jewel warns him for the impending invasion by an Indian empire, an invasion led by an evil computer from the future. All this leads to battle, politics, strife and general plot. Fun, therefore.

Less fun is the writing style in places: infodumps about arms and tactics, every battle ends with ‘horrendous bloodshed’ and ‘sheer carnage’ and things like that. Jokes get repeated a bit too often, some characters are perhaps slightly too invincible, enemies perhaps too stupid.

And I found the constant digs at Orthodoxy irksome, naturally. But it’s true that the history of the relationship between Orthodoxy and Monophysitism has been very unpleasant, for most of the times. Nowadays we enjoy full intercommunion with the Ethiopian and Eritrean Churches, not sure about the Egyptian Church, though.

Download at: Baen Free Library