Sniffen Packets

With a name like Sniffen, it's got to smell good.

The Tyrant, by Eric Flint and David Drake

I read this book through the Baen Free Library. I had no idea that it was a distant sequel to a seven-book series; as far as I could tell, it stood alone with ideas similar to that of the same authors Belisarius books. It’s a fun read, and works well on the tiny screen of my preferred reader.

As to the plot? It’s Baen. We can tell these soldiers are good, moral men because they built fortifications every night. We can tell this is a Virtuous Roman because he liberates the women in his life, who become strong warrior maids. This is brain candy—as sweet to a fan of old Rome as Mercedes Lackey is to a 14-year-old. I do like this brain candy, though. It’s nice to imagine how Rome might have fared if Caesar had the benefit of an omniscient battle computer.

My biggest disappointment with this book is that they never answer the larger question: did the Republic have to fall? In an age of corruption and tyrants, must good men abandon even representative democracy and appoint a Tyrant? Or, if you have an omniscient battle computer and Raj Whitehall, can you do any better?

Books read this year: 21