Belisarius is a highly idealized hero in this fictionalized biography that covers his early years. He's a crack archer and well-educated strategist who knows his history and his Bible equally well. He is principled, pious, and constantly perky with good humor and a self-driven whistle-while-you-work attitude....
The book strikes one as a conservative rallying cry to the Christian West today....It presents and argues for, in an understated way, a Christian way of war, to be waged by manly men who value purity and patriotism for the sake of preserving Christian civilization. Nobiscum Deus
, they cry in battle. So does the book.
Not that the book deliberately carries a political message. On its own terms, it is an ambitious tale, filled with action, spectacle, and intrigues of all kinds, both in the Byzantine courts and Persian palace. It is painstakingly authentic in its historical, military, and religious detail, assiduously researched and replete with facts. Sometimes it can't resist giving a lesson (though this is why some people read historical novels in the first place).
Belisarius piety is strictly orthodox that is, Catholic, yet this is never overdone in way that would alienate Protestant readers, given the subtle references to presbyters rather than priests, or the Theotokos rather than the Blessed Mother, for example. The book is, even if often gushing in its admiration for the bouncy Belisarius, an absorbing introduction to the turbulent Justinianic period. It is, to be sure, lad lit, given its hearty clap-on-the-back treatment of male camaraderie, especially in battle. The cover gives one the impression that the audience is YA (Young Adult), males especially, and it may well be. Not only is it driven by costumed action and Dune-like plots-within-plots, the novel exalts a youthful leader who is virtuous to a fault, is unfailingly loyal to God and country, who manages setbacks with aplomb, is handy with weapons and gets the pretty girl in the end. ----John J. Desjarlais, CatholicFiction.net
A great new resource for those of you reading your way through history....What I really like about this telling of the story is that it is not a white-washed version of the times, or of Belisarius. His virtue is portrayed sensibly without making him appear overly perfect. He is an appealing character, one the reader sympathizes with and roots for. He is often put in situations that appear impossible; many obstacles from incompetent fellow commanders to conspiring politicians frustrate his purpose. But, while he is not always victorious, he acquits himself well and his honor increases. The author weaves in a great view of the historical time period in Byzantium: the state of the cities, the factions, the movement and assimilation of the barbarians, and the politics of the Empire. The descriptions of the battle scenes are not dry and incomprehensible, but very readable and interesting. The author also includes diagrams of several of the battle formations showing how each side was arrayed and ready to engage. This helped tremendously when trying to visualize the battles. ----love2learn.net, Favorite Resources for Catholic Homeschoolers Blog
Belisarius and his late Roman world are brought to life through Belzoni's masterful blending of fact and fiction. Courageous and brilliant in battle, hardworking and devout in everyday life, young Belisarius comes across as a man whose virtues, inspired by a firm Christian faith, form the background of a novel that will keep the most reluctant of readers turning pages. Young men and those not so young will eagerly await Book II of this projected trilogy. ----John Moorehouse, editor, Catholic Men's Quarterly