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    Review of 1633 by Eric Flint and David Weber

    BAEN, August 2002

    The West Virginia natives transplanted into the 30 years war in the 1600s have weathered the first storm (see our review of 1632, the earlier novel in this series), but now the Cardinal Richelieu has decided to put his own weight, and that of France behind the Hapsburg monarchies that wish to stomp out the republican threat that ex-union boss and current United States President Mike Stearns represents. The wealth of France and the armed might of Spain make the military genius of Augustus Adolphus and the limited technology possessed by the Americans seem small indeed. Worse, Richelieu. the Spanish, and Charles of England have gotten their hands on American history books. They know the consequences of their mistakes and are resolved not to make them.

    Authors Eric Flint (see more reviews of novels by Eric Flint) and David Weber (see more reviewd of novels by David Weber) personalize this alternative history telling the stories of Stearns, of his political opponent and now Admiral Simpson, of Stearns' wife and sister as each battles to transform the brutal history of our own world and to survive the reaction. The story flips from central Germany to the courts of Paris to the Tower of London to the Amsterdam of Rembrant and the Prince of Orange.

    Although much of their 21st century technology is depleted, Stearns and his United States (now largely made up of Germans) are gradually rebuilding an appropriate technology base. They have had the advantage of tolerance, accepting help from Jews, Catholics, and Protestants when each is an oppressed group somewhere, and of their libraries. Yet tolerance is one lesson that Richelieu is quick to learn. He won't force his enemies to unite--rather, he will welcome them with open arms--if doing so allows him to eliminate the Swedish threat and carve out a place for his beloved France.

    So much for the plot--how did it work. 1633 spent way too much time (perhaps the first 200 pages in the hardback version) setting the stage and managing the transition from the single novel 1632 to the larger series that is to follow. Frankly, some of this was grim reading with characters lecturing one another at great length about history, politics, modern medicine, and the importance of not being biggotted. Once Flint and Weber finally got through this stage setting, however, the novel definitely took shape. Even more so than in 1632, Fint and Weber personalized the battles and made the reader feel the sacrifices that the Americans and their German friends were making. Like any 'middle book' in a series, 1633 left many ends unraveled and opened a number of plot devices that are almost certainly intended for use in future novels. Still, the 400 pages were fast reading and emotionally compelling.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 11/16/02

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