1636: The Saxon Uprising (The Ring of Fire)
by Eric Flint
Cover Artist: Tom Kidd
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781439134252
Date: 29 March 2011 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The emperor isn’t dead, but he is senseless. The story picks up immediately after 1635: The Eastern Front. Gustavus Adolphus is recovering from the hits he took in battle. While he is out of it, his chancellor makes a move for the throne. The various states that he rules must decide which side to chose. The high stakes have a huge payoff.
The moves by Chancellor Axel Oxenstierna to consolidate power and reclaim noble privileges are not taken well by the Committees of Correspondence. The COC moves to consolidate power in Saxony and fortify Dresden as General Banér moves in to pacify the region. Wilhelm Wettin, Prime Minister gets caught up in the schemes and becomes a pawn to everyone’s plans.
Princess Christina and her fiancé Ulrik are moving towards Magdeburg in order to serve as a counter to Oxensternia. They must time there arrival in such a way as it will have the greatest impact. They also need a way to safely arrive, but also make a stir. They have a plan, if only everything will come together.
In Dresden, Gretchen Richter is helping to organize the people of the city to keep General Banér out. There are a large number of soldiers from Mike Stearn’s division. They improve fortifications and work to hold the city. The Third Division is holding position nearby, as are the Hangmen under Jeff Higgins.
The Poles are consolidating what they won and are working to learn more from the APC that they captured. Despite calls to sue for peace, their leader stubbornly refuses. This obtuseness should play a role in the near future.
To top it all off there is betrayal in the South as Oxenstierna gives permission to take a German city. Even further to the Southeast, the Ottomans are on the move. They have taken Baghdad and may be planning to assault Austria.
With all the pieces in place, a powder keg seems to be ready to blow. Oddly, the fuse is never truly lit and there is very limited fighting. Although this may change as the internal strife is finally concluded.
This is the twentieth book in the Ring of Fire Universe, and it doesn’t disappoint. The main plot moves forward with a huge cast of characters and lots of bouncing around. There are numerous little interludes that tell the reaction to events from the point of view of multiple areas. Pity the Spanish; they are so far out of the loop.
I was a little disappointed with the development of Gustav’s illness. In some ways I kind of wish he had died in the last novel, because the actions would be more permanent. This is still a well written and enjoyable novel. Flint knows his characters in a way that the other writers just can’t touch.
This is not the starting point for a new reader. The characters and byplays have come from earlier activities. New readers should start with 1632 and 1633 and follow at least the mainline Flint novels.