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The Dance of Time by Eric Flint and David Drake

Cover art by Alan Pollock

Published by Baen Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

Here at long last is the concluding volume of the Belisarius series, begun over a decade ago with An Oblique Approach. In the meantime, Eric Flint's fame has far outstripped that of his original senior collaborator, David Drake, as reflected by the relative position of their names on the cover.

And the passage of time since the previous volume has in many ways actually benefitted it, for Eric Flint has clearly grown and matured as a writer (not to say that he was a poor or immature writer when he began this series, but to cease to learn and grow is to begin to wither and die), and the weaving of the various threads of the novel are even richer than had been previously the case.

And a rich skein of threads it is, with several different major viewpoints, many of whom are running multiple schemes, and not all of whom are playing their own allies straight. While Belisarius leads the military assault upon the Malwa Empire and its monstrous tutelary from the future, a seeming enemy, a traitor who fled to the Malwa for protection when his plot against the Eastern Roman Empire failed, is carrying out a plan that may fatally weaken the Malwa from within.

Best of all, he brings it together in a satisfying conclusion that doesn't seem overly simplified or contrived. All too often I have seen a writer, having built up a complex sitaution over a number of volumes, wind up overwhelmed by the promise that has been built up, and produces an inadequate or limp conclusion that cannot possibly meet the expectations that have been created by dedicated readers. Don't worry about that here.

Review posted December 15, 2008

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