Hope Reformed (The General)
by David Drake, S.M. Stirling, and Eric Flint
Cover Artist: Kurt Miller
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476736907
Date: 04 November 2014 List Price $14.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Hafardine has fallen to the level of the Roman Republic by the time that the avatar of Raj Whitehall and Center find Adrian Gellert. Adrian is not the typical conduit for Raj and Center, he is a philosopher rather than a great warrior. The true warrior is Adrian's brother, Esmond. They begin the path to bringing an end to the Confederation, perhaps seeing their beloved Emerald free.
The brothers live in the Confederation of Vanbert. Their homeland Emerald is similar to ancient Greece. More focused on philosophy than strength. But the Roman-like tendencies of the Confederacy will cause the world to descend further into barbarism. But a tragedy, will change the motivation and desires of Esmond and leads to the brothers' motivations and goals diverging.
One other character that sees the decay and stagnation of the Confederacy is Justiciar Demansk. He sees the problems that face the Confederation and starts on the same path that Julius Caesar once followed. It is not exactly the same path, but anyone familiar with the First Triumvirate will see the similarities. Demansk has a different plan--one that recognizes the opportunity that the brothers present.
Hope Reformed is a collection of two previously published novels, The Reformer (1999) and The Tyrant (2002). It is another set of novels set in The General series universe where the probabilities of Center help inform the decisions of the main character. Knowledge of technology is also shared allowing, in this case, Adrian to develop technology that can fight the strong forces of the Confederacy. The spread of new technology will also break the stagnation of the planet even if they fail.
These two novels differ from earlier books in the series by not staying almost exclusively with the avatar of Center. The nature of the story required a lot of time spent with others, especially Demansk. The development of the triumvirate was not a story that could be told through the eyes of Adrian.
The novels mix historical fiction with technological growth. Fans of historical fiction, alternate history, and military science fiction will find something to enjoy here. I missed these when they first came out. I am happy they were re-released and I was able to read them. I enjoyed them more than some of the other entrants in the series.
My enjoyment derives from the level of tech. I feel that Center is able to have a greater impact on the lower level tech societies. Cultures with a higher tech level can also be affected by technological innovation, but it sometimes seems a bit more of a stretch.