The creators of the monster called Link once were human, but that was distant ages in their past. Now, from the far future, they have sent their creation back to shape the world of the 6th century AD into the form that will make their own foul existence possible.
Taught and ruled by Link, the Malwa Empire has spread from the Indus Valley, across India and into Mesopotamia. Its inhuman master has chosen its instruments from the most brutal and degraded members of humanity, and they have served its monstrous ends well.
Those in the future who never were human have sent their own messenger to the past: Aide, a gleaming jewel who can warn but not lead; who can teach the construction of new weapons but cannot wield those weapons himself.
Aide has come to Belisarius, the greatest general of the 6th century and perhaps any century. Between them they have forged an alliance of all the world against evil—and an army that can be the spear through evil's heart.
With lancers and breech-loading rifles, with steamships and with galleys, Belisarius is marching into the Malwa heartland. In a world aflame with treachery, assassination, and slaughter beyond anything save the battles of mythology, he and his companions know only one sure thing: if they fail, their whole world is doomed to living Hell—for all time!
Politics, battle, and heroic adventure in a vivid alternate past!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Eric Flint is a gifted new star of military and alternate history SF and now shows a masterful skill at fantasy adventure. His first novel for Baen, Mother of Demons, was picked by Science Fiction Chronicle as a best novel of the year. His alternate history novel, 1632, sold out its first printing almost immediately and received lavish critical praise. With David Drake he has collaborated on the acclaimed "Belisarius" series, of which The Tide of Victory is the fifth. His latest solo novel for Baen is the fantasy adventure The Philosophical Strangler. A longtime labor union activist with a degree (Phi Beta Kappa) in African history, he currently resides in northwest Indiana with his wife Lucille.
Vietnam veteran, former lawyer, former bus driver, and now famous author, David Drake tells a military story like no other. His readers recognize that he can take them where no one else can, with gut-wrenching description that puts them face-to-face with the enemy, and in the midst of the action right on the battlefield. Drake helped create the audience for mercenary military science fiction with his bestselling "Hammer's Slammers" books. Drake graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Iowa, majoring in history (with honors) and Latin. His stint at Duke University Law School was interrupted for two years by the U.S. Army, where he served as an enlisted interrogator with the 11th Armored Cavalry in Vietnam and Cambodia. Drake has a wife, a son, and various pets.
The young apprentice mage, Pierette, discovers that the pages in the history books are fading away. Like stars going behind a passing cloud, the events that define the sunny world she loves are winking out one by one, and the shadows of ancient headless Gauls—souls of the dead whose heads once adorned the pillars of the city of Provence—are seen by night . . .
Is the Black Time coming, when evil will reign supreme The answer lies in the long ago, when Provence was a Roman camp, and Pierette must brave the otherworld to journey there.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
L. Warren Douglas—anthropologist, naturalist, poet, and historian—puts it all together, melding myth, historic characters and events, ancient and future landscapes with a touch of fantasy. Douglas's works are a treasure trove of ancient wisdom, lost legends, cutting-edge biotech, and unforgettable characters. From Sioux Falls to the South of France, Douglas has walked the streets and trails, smelled the flowers, named and savored the winds off mountain, sea, and plain—and his readers experience it.
Douglas's mysteries are genuine, whether hidden in the myths of a thousand worlds, recorded by the world-spanning biocybes of Midicor IV, or obscured by the mists of the Celtic otherworld where dead gods speak, and ultimately it is the reader who must wander dusty trails, explore forbidding cityscapes, and discover answers as real as sweat, as poignant as lost love, buried deep in the forgotten past or hidden on a far, far world whose light will not impinge on us for a million years. For Douglas, to travel hopefully is indeed a better thing than to arrive, and his reader's journeys are their own reward.
THE WORLD WAS FINISHED—
BUT ISHAM STONE WASN'T . . .
His name is Isham Stone, and he's the second-best assassin in the world. He is many miles from home, half-dead, his left arm is gangrenous, and he possesses—like everyone else—a sense of smell a thousand times better than a wolf's. Ahead of him, in the stinking ruins of a great city, hides the greatest killer of all time, Wendell Morgan Carlson. All Isham has to do is stay alive long enough to find Carlson and kill him.
But Carlson is guarded by ghosts . . .
They rode the winds when Earth was bubbling rock. They were a mighty civilization before the first amphibians were hatched. They shared the world with men for half a million years before either side became aware of the other—and for centuries thereafter we refused to believe they truly existed.
In our arrogance, we assumed that life was an exclusive property of solids and liquids . . .
Now they have declared war on us, and our race is nearly annihilated. Thanks to the man Isham has come to kill. . . .
Praise for a Hugo- and Nebula-Winning Master Storyteller
"Nobody's perfect, but Spider comes pretty damned close!" —Ben Bova
". . . I'd nominate Spider Robinson as the new Robert Heinlein." —The New York Times
"Sheer good storytelling . . . imaginative and captivating. . . ." —Publishers Weekly
Tannim jumped in startlement, and turned to face the barn door—and froze as he saw who was standing there. His mind lodged on a single thought, unable to get past it: It's her—it's her—it's her—
And it was: the woman who had haunted and hunted him through his dreams for years. The woman he'd dreamed of this morning. Her. And she stood there, calmly taking in his look of utter shock.
There was absolutely no doubt of it; she matched his dreams in every detail. Gently curved raven-wing hair framed a face that he knew as well as he knew his own. Amused emerald-green eyes gazed at him from beneath strong brows that arched as delicately as a bit of Japanese brushwork.
"Excuse me," she said again in that throaty contralto. ". . . but I understood that I could find someone here who works on Mustangs."
He looked past her and spotted her black Mustang standing in the midst of the tall grass outside the barn door. "Not—for a long time," he said dazedly.
"Ah," she replied. Then her eyes widened as she looked past his shoulder, and she stepped back in alarm.
Fear lanced him. He whirled to look. There was nothing there.
He turned back, and she was already gone. And so was her car.
Only then did his mind click back into gear, as he sprinted to stood where the car had been. There was the imprint of four tires in the grass—but no track-marks leading up to them. There was no sign that the car had actually been driven through the grass to reach that spot, and there had been no sound of a motor.