Book: The Tyrant by Eric Flint and David Drake

Entertaining eighth book in a military science-fiction series

August 27, 2011

Eric Flint and David Drake

The Tyrant

Baen, 2002

ISBN: 0-7434-3521-4

390 pages

Our of print; inexpensive used copies seem to be readily available as of this writing

The Tyrant is the eighth (and, it seems, last) book in the military science-fiction series “The General” in which most of the books are by S. M. Stirling and David Drake. (A review of the series through its first five books is here and a review of the sixth and seventh books are here: 6, 7.)

In the universe of the series, humans’ space-faring empire had fallen to barbarism and the planet Bellevue had regained about nineteenth-century technology. In the first five books, Raj Whitehall, with the assistance of a still-functioning artificially-intelligent computer, reunites Bellevue and sets its civilization on a path back to the stars. Much of that story parallels the history of the great Byzantine (or Eastern Roman) general Belisarius.

In the sixth book, The Chosen, computerized copies of Raj and Center (the computer) have reached the planet Visager and the historical analog for the action is the second world war.

In the seventh book, The Reformer, copies of Raj and Center reach the planet Hafardine and here the historical analog is the era in which Athens (and modern-day Greece) was ruled by Rome. Adrian Gellert is a Emerald (that is, Greek) scholar and philosopher. He and his family stop to worship at the temple of Athena at the Parthenon and Raj and Center choose to make themselves known to him there. As the book’s title suggests, Center and Raj judge that this planet can best be helped to rejoin galactic civilization by their assisting a wise man rather than a conquering general.

This book continues the story on Hafardine. Adrian and his helpers don’t consider the island king that he had been helping in The Reformer to be a good long-term bet. The government of Vanbert (Rome) is now a triumvirate and it may be in the interests of civilization for Adrian and Verice Demansk to cooperate if they can do it just right. He intends to get rid of the other two rulers and become the tyrant of the book’s title.

At the end of my review of The Reformer, I wondered what advantage was gained by its being a separate volume from this one. In fact, the books are rather different. Not least in that the narrative follows Verice Demansk a good deal in this one.

The book seems a little unsure of how and where it should end, but fans of the series will enjoy it.