Catholic books: “Belisarius: The First Shall Be Last”

Catholic books: “Belisarius: The First Shall Be Last”

New Catholic fiction from Arx Publishing:

In the early 6th century AD, the Christian Roman Empire was on the ropes. Warlike Germanic nations had conquered its western provinces and reorganized them as barbarian kingdoms. Though the eastern Empire survived with its capital at Constantinople, it was still under constant pressure from blood-thirsty Hunnic tribes who raided across the Danube frontier and from unprovoked full-scale invasions by the powerful king of Persia.

At a time when Roman power seemed about to collapse, a hero arose who did what no one thought possible. He went toe-to-toe with the Empire’s most dangerous enemies. Belisarius: The First Shall Be Last  (Arx Publishing, January 2007, paperback, 248 pages + maps, ISBN: 9781889758787, list price: $14.95) is a historical novel by Paolo A. Belzoni that recreates the early life of this fascinating man. “I wrote the book mainly for Catholic homeschoolers — older kids,” Belzoni said. “Catholics will recognize many dearly-held aspects of their own beliefs in this book, from Belisarius’s large family, to his respect for helpless human life even among his enemies, to his desire to protect Roman innocents from the ultimate Culture of Death—pitiless barbarians bent on pillage and slaughter.”

Filled with action and intrigue, the book is replete with historical and religious detail drawn from ancient historians. “The story of the most famous general of the Eastern Roman Empire is well worth telling,” commented Colleen Drippè, editor of Hereditas: A Catholic Literary Magazine. “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.”

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  • My immediate response is:

    Why do we need another book on Belisarius? Will it never end? Geez, there were at least ten novels about the man published by Baen Books in the last ten years! Not to mention Robert Graves’ classic. Not to mention….

    And I thought Jim Baen and Mr. Bellisario were a little too enthused about Belisarius.

  • Arx publishes one of the best books I have ever had the pleasure of reading—Nicholas C. Prata’s Angels in Iron.  What a great book about the faith and the heroism and piety of the Knights of St. John of Malta.  Every Catholic man from age 13 up needs to read this book. 

    I have the Belisarios book but haven’t started it yet.  I hope its good.

  • Hi—I circulated the orignial press release for this book (and am one of the guys who runs Arx) and wanted to respond to Maureen’s comment.

    I haven’t read any of the Eric Flint/Baen Books Belisarius series, admittedly, but to my understanding, they are speculative fiction as in—“I wonder what would happen if Belisarius was transported into the future to fight space aliens?” This book is nothing like that at all. It’s historical fiction.

    As for Robert Graves’s book, this book (and it’s sequels) are meant to be a Catholic response to it. If you’ve read Graves’s book, you know that he puts a lot of emphasis on scandalous “Secret History” as a source, while downplaying the role of Christianity. He also makes Pope Silverius look like a complete scoundrel. This is the Pope that was forcibly deposed by Belisarius and Antonina and who is a saint of the Catholic Church. I don’t know about you, but that passage in Graves’s book was enough to get my blood boiling.

    Also, this book is heavy on the battle scenes. Graves’s work was not—and he wasn’t great at narrating such scenes anyway, in my opinion.

    I would encourage you to give the book a shot, especially if you enjoy reading about late Roman history.