1636: The Viennese Waltz (The Ring of Fire)
by Eric Flint, Paula Goodlett, and Gorg Huff
Cover Artist: Tom Kidd
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476736877
Date: 04 November 2014 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
The Holy Roman Empire has stood between Europe and the Ottoman Empire for years. The coming of Grantville has changed the course of European History. New technology, thoughts, and ideas are making their way out from the ring of fire. There are ecclesiastical issues as well as those more mundane. The empire is breaking up as people claim sovereignty because they feared facing the same fate. With Ferdinand II not doing well, people know that things will change even more.
Austria is in a great location. It sits on good trade routes and has resources. Vienna has plenty of people with skills as well. What it doesn't have are jobs. Many people are out of work with nothing to do. The military is eating the Austrian budget and the people do not have faith in the leaders. This hurts the value of the currency, making the items people want more expensive.
When Prince Ferdinand arranges to buy an uptime car and bring in a mechanic to keep it operational, a series of events are set in place that will provide Austria a chance to reclaim its place among the power centers of Europe. All it will take is a girl's club to make it happen. The Barbie Consortium are given the helm of a complete novel after being introduced in many short stories.
This is the latest entrant in the shared world of The Ring of Fire. Economics and monetary policy are the focus of the story. The trust of people is key to any currency that isn't backed by a specific asset suchas gold or silver. I found the byplay to be quite interesting, but I recognize that this type of story isn't for everyone.
I enjoyed reading the Barbie Consortium stories. I found their use and understanding of basic economic priniciples to be engaging. They saw that they had assests that were in demand and then took their profits and looked for new opportunities. They were not always successful, but they hit more than they missed. This is a can't miss for fans of the Consortium's earlier adventures.
People who are new to The Ring of Fire series should read a couple of the earlier novels in the series before trying to follow the action here. Without the basic information, the characters and action will not be easy to follow. But the good thing is that there are a lot of adventures that have been written and many more to come.
The stable of authors that are writing for the series continues to expand. This is a good thing. It allows for the action to continue even when Eric Flint, the originator of the series, is busy with other projects. It also allows for more of the world to be explored as each new author gets an area and set of characters.