In Constantinople, the New Rome, the Eastern Roman emperor is beset by problems. New and dangerous barbarian hordes appear on the frontier year after year. The powerful king of Persia demands tribute and threatens Roman Mesopotamia and Syria. Religious controversies spawn catastrophic military uprisings.
But unbeknownst to all, in that same year was born Belisarius, the greatest Roman general of them all. At a time when Roman power was thought to be practically extinct, Belisarius did what no sane Roman thought possible. He went toe-to-toe with the empire's most powerful enemies.
Belisarius: The First Shall Be Last is a historical novel that recreates the early life of this amazing hero. Filled with action and intrigue, the book is replete with historical and religious detail drawn from ancient historians like Procopius, Agathias, John Malalas, and many others. The novel is a fascinating introduction to the Justinianic period-the last gasp of the Roman Empire and the infancy of Christendom in both the East and West.
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What People are Saying About This
"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), malesespecially, 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.
"The story of the most famous general of the Eastern Roman Empire is well worth telling. Some historians consider Belisarius to be the greatest military genius of history. This first novel is based on his boyhood (of which little is known) and the early part of his career under the emperors Justin and Justinian. A devout man in a world of pagans, Arians, and less than sterling Catholics, young Belisarius earns his command. Young readers will learn a bit about the sixth century, one of the less studied epochs of history, while meeting a gallery of interesting characters drawn from all parts of the empire and outside. A map is provided along with diagrams of major battles."--(Colleen Drippé, Editor, Hereditas Magazine)
"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)
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I thank the author for not only giving us an exciting, entertaining, historical account of a famous General but dared to expose the hero's deep, inspirational Faith in God. This is a book parents can not only enjoy themselves, but reccommend to their children. I, for one, cannot wait to read Book 2!
The once invincible Roman Empire has been collapsing from within as much as from the barbarians attacking at the edges. Most citizens regardless of locale feel strongly that the great state is going in the wrong direction with little hope for the future. That changes when war hero Justin is offered the throne and accepts after rejecting the emperor position in the past. His rise from common birth to soldier to leader to emperor brings new hope of a cleansing. His heir nephew Justinian rules the kingdom in Justin¿s name, but though all know this no one cares as a rebirthing of optimism is everywhere.--------------------- Justinian wants real leaders to take charge of the legions not noble connections. Soldiers like Belisarius in Thrace join with a chance to make their mark after learning to fight by defeating looters. He and his friends join Justin¿s military and quickly become part of the Imperial household guard. With trouble on the eastern flank from the Persians, the competent Belisarius is sent to Constantinople to battle the enemy where he meets his assertive future spouse Antonina. He moves up the ranks as the Persian Wars occupy the eastern legions.------------------------- BELISARIUS, Liber 1 of a biographical fiction saga, is a superb Ancient Rome tale that brings to life one of the last great generals of the empire focusing on the Persian Wars thus the story line reads for the most part as a fictionalization of military history. Told almost exclusively from the Roman perspective especially that of the lead hero his side in the conflict comes across as honorable while the enemy consists of murderous thugs to the victors go the fictionalized history books. Although readers will have to overcome the tiny font size, teens and adults will appreciate this spotlight into sixth century Rome at a time when the empire and in some chronicles of the time the world was on the brink of collapse as cultures collide.---------------- Harriet Klausner
This book seems to copy another author's work. Poor writing. Poor research.