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1635: The Eastern Front (The Ring of Fire) by Eric Flint
Cover Artist: Tom Kidd
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781439133897
Date: 05 October 2010 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Only a few years have passed since the Ring of Fire brought Grantville to 1632. After a little break, the series returns to the main story line. The west is secured after the defeat of the French and Danes, Gustavus Adolfus now has time to deal with some festering problems to the USE's east.

The Eastern Front focuses on the subjugation of Brandenburg and Saxony and then the invasion of Poland. Mike Sterns, no longer Prime Minister, is heading the USE’s military forces during the campaign. Jeff Higgins has been recalled to service and Gretchen is left to raise their family. Gretchen must also plan the Committees of Correspondence (COCs) response and action plan as the COC send advance units to gather support and gain influence in the Saxony. In contrast, the Crown Loyalists are struggling to keep power and control by limiting franchise. Christina and her fiancé are heading to Sweden to meet the Queen and someone wants to use the opportunity to sow discord.

The USE is much more powerful and technically advanced than the States that they are fighting. This leads Gustavus Adolfus to take risks that are not tactically sound. This creates an opportunity for their enemies to trap and kill the greatest leaders. A storm is brewing and when it sweeps across Europe, things won’t be the same.

I fully expect the next novel is going to detail some very Byzantine politics. The unsettled nature of the new political reality is a drastic change from the relative stability until this time. That seems like a bold statement, but the scene has been set. The drums of war are beating.

One of the best things about Flint’s writing is the smooth flow of his battle descriptions. He presents the majesty and the horror without getting bogged down in a blow by blow recounting of the action. He seamlessly meshes the multitude of points of view into a coherent tale that spans the limits of the USE. It is enjoyable to read the way he brings action in the side books into the main plot. That has always been one of the hallmarks of the series.

As a piece of a large and growing series, 1635: The Eastern Front cannot be appreciated without reading several of the prior novels. The story follows several points of view to keep the reader informed. The Ring of Fire is at its heart an Alternate History. It is a really developed and explored timeline, but still an alternate reality.

This is a great addition to the Ring of Fire tapestry that is being woven. The only thing missing is Grantville. I always enjoy learning more about the people and survivors. That little missing piece should not keep fans away. The story is heating up, and should boil over in coming volumes. I look forward to the next adventure.

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