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    Review of RING OF FIRE by Eric Flint

    Baen, January 2004

    After the town of Grantville, West Virginia, is plunged into the middle of the 30 years war in 1632, everything changes. To survive, the Americans ally themselves with the Swedish protestants against the Hapsburg Catholics. But more than taking sides, they begin to spread their influence, both cultural and military, on a broader scale. In two earlier volumes in this series (see our reviews of 1632 and 1633), author Eric Flint (see more reviews by Flint) and colaborators detail the military and social situation as the Americans attempt to survive, create a liberal society, and deal with their own issues of cultural elitism. RING OF FIRE is a collection of short stories and a novella from this same universe.

    As with many 'universe of' collections by multiple author, RING OF FIRE is a bit of a mixed bag. Several of the stories, in particular The Wallenstein Gambit by Eric Flint, offer significant pieces of the history and advance the general story line. Others discuss internal issues in Grantville (how the last survivor of a hippie commune comes to terms with his ideals and still gets the girl, how teenaged boys recreate junk food), or the nature of the post-Vatican II church in a world where Vatican II is probably more heretical than the protestant faiths that the local church is battling.

    Fans of the 1632 universe (like me) will definitely want to read this one. Enough of what happens in this volume is integral to the history and much of it is well written with interesting characters. I don't recommend starting with RING, however. Although one of the stories, Power to the People does tell the original arrival story, most of the book depends on an understanding of the history of what went before.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 4/01/04

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