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Ring of Fire IV (Sequels to 1632)
Edited by Eric Flint
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476781242
Date: 03 May 2016 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: E. Flint's Website / Show Official Info /

The Ring of Fire universe has many writers who have explored a wide range of areas and events outside the main storyline created by Eric Flint. Some stories explore main characters to provide more detail, others explore areas and people only on the fringe of the events.

The collection leads off with an established author who is new to the universe. David Brin creates an author who tells a new kind of story inspired by the events of the Ring of Fire in "71". This is a story series I would like to see continue. Truthfully, I would love to see the story within the story expanded to be novel length, it is that good.

"Kinderspiel" by Charles H. Gannon is a mystery. An agreement was reached with the burgermeisters of Biberach to put in an aerodrome. Suddenly the agreement was rescinded. When a group is sent to find out why, they find that not everything is as it appears.

"In Add, Subtract, Multiply, Divide" by Bjorn Hassler religious beliefs and bigotry break a congregation. For the groups to survive, they must adjust and find a new path forward.

Robert E. Waters' "Fallen Apple" is about how knowledge of the future can change that future. Grantville has created many butterflies to change the future. One letter may help one piece of that world develop.

Sometimes fate allows for a different course. In "Rats of War", Rainer Penn tells of a man who writes of his wartime experiences. The entries in Peter Hagendorf's Diary give a brief glimpse into a soldiers view when on the losing side.

There have been some stories set in what was America, Herbert Sakalaucks tells about the struggles of some people attempting to have a better life in "Gold Fever". The tale tells of the reality of frontier life and the difficulties that occur.

David Carrico is back with another tale from the files of Magdeburg polizei in "Hide Trouble from Mine Eyes". A serial killer is on the loose and Gotthilf Hoch is on the case. But as time goes on, more and more pressure is exerted to bring the case to a conclusion.

Cleaning up from a blockade takes time. When the titular Blauwe Duif goes down with a rich cargo in a bad location, the stage is set for some underwater adventure. Of course, diving in this time is not simple, and Kerryn Offord tells how the fears can be compounded by a couple of accidents.

Walter Hunt gets to play with members of the wrecking crew in "Prison Break". Sometimes the only way to recover from a bad situation is to get back on the horse and go to it. This tale is related to the action in 1636: The Cardinal Virtues.

Walt Boyes and Joy Ward tell of lost love and recovery in "Love has a Wet Nose". Grief can consume a person. Henry Cooper lost the love of his life and must find a way to go on. His new path starts in Grantville with a stray dog.

"The Red-Headed League" by Virginia DeMarce tells of marriages and choices. Sometimes it is best to just go with the flow. I enjoyed the Hee Haw reference.

Eric Flint closes the stories with "Scarface". In it he describes the motivation of Harry Leffers to find a way to raise money and help his family. In the course of his actions, new industries are developed which should push technological advances forward.

This collection is set in the Ring of Fire universe. The action takes place at many different times. For the most part some knowledge of characters and past events are needed to appreciate the stories. For fans of the series this is a must read especially the lead story by David Brin.

I enjoyed all of the stories, but Brin and Flint stories stand out in a strong collection. I hope to see more stories advancing the plots of many of the main characters highlighted in these tales.

The Ring of Fire series has some of the most developed characters. The world changed by the ring of fire has more detail than any other universe I can think of at this time. If you haven't started the series, go get 1632 and enjoy the ride.

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