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1634: The Baltic War by David Weber & Eric Flint
Cover Artist: Tom Kidd
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781416521020
Date: 01 May 2007 List Price $26.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: 1632 Webpage / Show Official Info /

After several ancillary stories, the Ring of Fire main story line progresses. We know that the group in England escaped from the Tower of London in dramatic fashion, but now we get to read the first hand account. The ironclads and timberclads that have been built by Admiral Simpson's Navy see their first engagements.

Eddie Cantrell is alive but all is not well. Although a prisoner, he is allowed many privileges. He is pumped but not tortured for information. Christian IV of Denmark is captivated by things from uptime. He pushes for advances in technology, especially those related to martial skills. Some of these advances will lead to deadly outcomes as Denmark prepares for the coming of the United States of Europe's navy, led by Admiral Simpson. Eddie also must face the clash of customs, for what can a young man do in the face of a King's daughter's love?

Even as the forces of Gustavus Adolphus prepare for battle with the combined Dane, English, French, and Spanish forces, Cardinal Richelieu is preparing a surprise. Even though the uptimers know many things, they can sometimes overlook simple solutions. While most of the USE is looking towards the Baltic theater a surprise assault will have a lasting impact on the future of this new reality.

On the industrial front, limited time and resources are taking their toll. Rapid expansion in new technologies and production processes mean that most people don't really understand the work that they are doing. Mistakes get made, big mistakes. An early accident will create an opportunity for Thorsten Engler a new character in the series. Trauma leads to love and opportunity if he can survive.

In London, the embassy is still locked in the tower. The iron handed actions of Thomas Wentworth are leading to unrest as others see opportunities. The Queen's antics lead to a clash that sees new occupants in the Tower of London. Harry Lefferts' arrival in London is the precursor to freeing the embassy. With help from new and old friends, the escape is planned and executed. London will never be the same.

I was very happy to see this book published. It has been a long wait. The sidebar stories are good, but I truly enjoy the main characters the best. Originally intended to be two separate books, 1634 the Baltic War does have a feel of being unfocused. There are a large and growing number of characters to follow. The cast of characters, maps, and family trees will help the reader keep people sorted out.

Being a piece of a much larger tapestry, I would not recommend this book as a starting point. As a good read and continuance of a great Alternate History, I highly recommend it. The Ring of Fire series tells the tale of a small West Virginia town transported to 1632 Germany. Each book in the series details the growth and changes in that world. As you move further from the arrival point, events diverge more and more from our timeline's events. One of the most interesting subplots is how famous people handle their fame before they achieve it.

This world is highly detailed and a large number of people have contributed to its' development. Creator Eric Flint has allowed great latitude to authors and fans to develop events in a logical and plausible fashion. Ordinary people become extraordinary. You can go to Eric Flint's 1632 webpage for more information about the series and publications.

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