is a fictional character
A character is the representation of a person in a narrative work of art . Derived from the ancient Greek word kharaktêr , the earliest use in English, in this sense, dates from the Restoration, although it became widely used after its appearance in Tom Jones in 1749. From this, the sense of...
in Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Asimov was one of the most prolific writers of all time, having written or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000...
's Foundation series. He was the last strong General of the Galactic Empire
In Isaac Asimov's Robot/Empire/Foundation series of novels, the Galactic Empire is an empire consisting of millions of planets settled by humans across the whole Milky Way Galaxy. Its symbol is the Spaceship and Sun logo.-Author's creation of the empire:...
, Commander of the legendary Twentieth Fleet, who eventually came to be known as "the Last of the Imperials", and earned this title well. His tactical genius was compared with that of Admiral Peurifoy, and his skill at handling men to be far greater. A man of great military genius, he was also brave, competent, good looking, neither too young nor too old, a taker of calculated risks, and good to his men - he was a popular general.
Unfortunately for him, he was born at a late point during the slow fall of the Empire. Riose yearned for the days when Generals proved their worth through the addition of new territory to the empire.
War with the Foundation
Riose got his chance when he heard rumors of the "magicians" from Ducem Barr and others, in reference to the scientists of the Foundation. At this time, the Foundation held a large portion of the periphery in economic control and word of the Foundation was beginning to reach the Empire at the Galactic Core.
As a stalwart and patriotic defender of the original Galactic Empire, Riose was shocked by the legend of Hari Seldon
Hari Seldon, a fictional character, is the intellectual hero of Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series. In his capacity as mathematics professor at Streeling University on Trantor, he developed psychohistory, allowing him to predict the future in probabilistic terms...
's plan to create a new Empire which would take over from his own; the Foundation was a real threat.
With several of the last great "ships of the line", pinnacles of Imperial technological and military prowess (of which few remained in those degenerate times), Riose set out into the barbarian Galactic Periphery to claim the Foundation in the name of Empire and Emperor.
Seldon had predicted that the Foundation would survive all trials, and Bel Riose knew this, but he bet his living will against the "dead hand" of Seldon's psychohistory
Psychohistory is a fictional science in Isaac Asimov's Foundation universe which combines history, sociology, and mathematical statistics to make general predictions about the future behavior of very large groups of people, such as the Galactic Empire...
In combat, Riose repeatedly defeated the Foundation through brilliant tactical and strategic planning. Eventually, Riose's fleet came within a day's travel of Terminus
Terminus is a fictional planet at the edge of the Galaxy in Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series, home of the Foundation .-Position in the universe:Terminus is the sole planet orbiting an isolated star...
. Before he could complete his conquest, however, he was recalled by Emperor Cleon II
Emperor Cleon II is a fictional character from Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. He is the last strong monarch of the Galactic Empire, and reigned during the time when Bel Riose, the last great Imperial general, was engaging in a successful campaign against the early Foundation...
, tried for treason
In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's sovereign or nation. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a...
, and executed.
All had gone as Seldon predicted. A weak General could clearly never threaten the Foundation due to a lack of adaptability and innovation (the Galactic Empire had begun to stagnate in all
things, including military strategy, and could have easily had its pre-planned and often repeated attacks easily thwarted). A strong General under a weak Emperor would overthrow the Emperor rather than make new conquests since control of the Galactic Empire is obviously more enticing than control over the so-called "barbarian hinterland". Riose, however, served under Cleon II, the last strong Emperor. When both General and Emperor are strong, the General can only keep his attention on outward conquest: that is why Riose was the only Imperial in many years to pose a threat to the Foundation. However, this situation also meant that the strong Emperor would never let the strong general become strong enough to dethrone him. Paranoia ran high in the Galactic Empire due to the staggering number of revolutions and political assassinations. Emperor Cleon II had Riose executed out of fear of his popularity and success.
Ironically, General Riose never had any designs upon the throne and never did anything except to serve his Emperor faithfully.
According to Golan Trevize, in later years Riose was largely forgotten by the people of the Foundation, as their national mythology required that the Mule
The Mule is a fictional character from Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. One of the greatest conquerors the galaxy has ever seen, he is a mentalic who has the ability to reach into the minds of others and "adjust" their emotions, individually or en masse, using this capability to forcibly enlist...
be made the sole central threat to the rise of the Foundation.
Asimov loosely based Bel Riose on Flavius Belisarius, a great general of the Roman Empire during the 6th century AD. Like Riose, Belisarius served a strong emperor, Justinian the Great, in an empire that it had declined from its peak (Belisarius was one of the people, along with Justinian, known as "the last of the Romans", i.e., imperials); helped it to recapture much of its lost territory; and was called back on baseless suspicion that he was angling for the Imperial throne. Unlike Riose, Belisarius was not executed but retired (and, according to unsubstantiated legend was blinded and cast out as a beggar).