Yet More Books
Hey, more books. Exclusively from the Ring of Fire series this time. I should branch out.
1637: The Volga Rules, by Eric Flint, Gorg Huff, and Paula Goodlett
This picks up right where 1636: The Kremlin Games left off. Bernie Zeppi and his friends have thrown their lot in with Czar Mikhail, who’s trying to establish a new centre of power in Siberia while the director-general in Moscow solidifies his control over the country.
There’s more stuff going on than in the last book, but there’s no central character to latch onto. I guess the question of the book is whether the czar is able to establish a new Russian state. The answer is yes, but there’s still so much left unresolved.
Fortunately, 1638: The Sovereign States was published in September. Maybe that will provide a satisfying conclusion.
1632, by Eric Flint (reread)
I picked up a free copy on my phone and read through it again. It was nice to get back to the core characters and locations for a bit, instead of going increasingly further afield.
Grantville Gazette, by Eric Flint and others
The Grantville Gazette was an electronic magazine devoted to publishing authorized Ring of Fire fanfiction. This book collects some of the stories originally published in the magazine.
It was fine. There are a few stories about the early days after the Ring of Fire; another about a painting during the seige of Amsterdam; and then the two big ones: “The Sewing Circle”, by Gorg Huff, and “The Rudolstadt Colloquy” by Virginia DeMarce.
The former is basically the first part of The Barbie Consortium. I didn’t read closely enough to determine what was different, but I liked that book, and reading an earlier version didn’t bother me.
As for the latter: I’ve had my complaints about DeMarce’s writing in the past, and I don’t think it’s ever really going to connect with me. But this time it’s clear that a lot was going over my head. I had a hard time following the theological debates (the colloquy is specifically about the doctrine of ubiquity), but it was clear she has deep knowledge of the Lutheran Church, but enough awareness to be critical. A side plot about a folk singer performing Protestant folk songs went completely over my head, other than the surface level understanding of “Yep, they don’t like Catholics”. It was interesting, and that was enough to get me through it. But I didn’t get it.
1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies, by Eric Flint and Charles E. Gannon
The Ring of Fire series ventures to the New World. A French expedition, in conjuction with an Irish mercenary company, heads to Trinidad to survey Pitch Lake and acquire oil. The Dutch colony of Recife has fled Tierra Firma to Sint Eustatius to escape destruction by the Spanish Empire. And the USE has sent a fleet to the New World on a reconnaissance mission. Can Eddie Cantrell, leader of the expedition, prove his worth to his largely Danish navy? And what is the USE really up to?
The authors previously collaborated on 1635: The Papal Stakes, which I really enjoyed. This was comparitively a disappointment. I liked the characters, and there’s a lot of really interesting stuff in this book … but I found myself slogging through parts of it, particularly whenever a large battle came up — and there were several.
On the plus side, its portrayal of the colonization of the Caribbean is way more nuanced than I’d expected. There’s a minor subplot about the evils of slavery, and we see Indigenous characters on different sides of the conflicts.