Tor, Jun 2001, 27.95, 558 pp.
In the seventh century, the Roman Empire is under siege on two military fronts and one natural front. Mohammed of Mekkah and his army defeated Theodore and the war with Persia led by the inhuman sorcerer Damawand continues unabated. Adding to the gloom is the eruption of Vesuvius that has destroyed several cities.
The last real hope for Rome and Constantinople lies with Prince Maxian, who has tried to destroy the magical Oath that protects the city. An epiphany strikes him and he realizes he is taking a destructive path that could kill many innocents. He turns to the past, raising Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, to abet his cause of saving the great empire from its two front war.
THE STORM OF HEAVEN is an extremely complex alternate historical fiction novel that includes a well-written introduction explaining key events from the first two novels. However, in spite of that, most new readers and repeat fans will find it much easier to follow the myriad of plots by perusing the previous novels (see THE SHADOW OF ARARAT and THE GATE OF FIRE) because this is an extremely elaborate tale. This reviewer stopped early on because she understood that like Rome wasn't built in a day, this is not one day reading. The audience will feel they have been transported to the ancient world as the vivid depths of detail bring the senses alive. That and the numerous subplots that brilliantly tie together make Thomas Harlan's novel (and The Oath of Empire series) a must read for the sub-genre audience.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner