New York Times best-selling author Eric Flint has received glowing critical praise for his Ring of Fire alternate history series. In this first installment, a West Virginia town is transported from the year 2000 to 1631 Germany at the height of the Thirty Years’ War. Thrust into conflict, the town residents must also contend with moral issues, such as who should be considered a citizen.
©2000 Eric Flint (P)2012 Recorded Books, LLC
“Gripping and excellently detailed.... A treat!” (Publishers Weekly)
So many books--so little time
I really thought the idea of the clash of personalities, technology, and perspective was a great premise for a terrific book. The problem I had was that the characters were only partially developed and explored. There were many missed opportunities to build the story line and really pull in some historic research. The final rationale for the "ring of fire" happening was sort of dropped in your lap at the end and really should have been built more slowly throughout the story. It was entertaining but lacked the back bone it needed to make it a really engaging book.
1632 is the masterpiece of Eric Flint's career. Flint is best known as the collaborator. His works with David Weber and David Drake being his most popular. Flint describes himself as an idea man, who can stay focused long enough to get a book out but it takes awhile. This is the reason he prefers to use co-authors. It helps the story stay focused while getting it finished in a timely manner. Even though I don't always agree with the political and ethical ideas that Flint puts forward in his books, he does a very good job of making sure they do not become the focus. He writes Sci-Fi books about history and because of that politics do play a role, but he makes sure that many of his ideas and the ideas of his political opposites get their respective places without misrepresentation. The only political idea that he gives short shrift to is Isolationism or Fortress America. Of course most people on both sides of the aisle would agree, that is not a workable solution as WWI and WWII proved to us. The great thing about Flint's "altered history" Sci-Fi is that he tries to stay historically accurate about everything else. He does a fantastic job of sorting out the 30 years war in this work, and does it in such a way that makes it much easier for the common lay person to understand what was going on during that period without the need of historian on the shoulder pointing the way. Flint at times makes it so easy to understand how the 30 years war not only effected Europe of 400 years ago, but also how it played a part in WWI and WWII. This is not just a book of fiction, it is what I like to call "fictive non-fiction". It's core is fiction, but the meat of the book is so well researched and vetted that you can learn vast amounts of valuable information if you read carefully. This is the true measure of historical fiction and Flint's 1632 is a prime example of how to accomplish it. I am truly pleased to finally see 1632 on Audible's play list and can hardly wait for the remaining book of this series and many other Eric Flint books to find their way here.
George Guidall does a superb job in reading this book. He truly grasps the characters and the characteristics of the work. I can only hope that he is the reader for the remainder of the series, and continues to do those works as much justice as he did 1632. Overall this is one for any library, not just Sci-Fi fans.
This is the first book in a series created by Eric Flint. I have read and reread the first three books in the series many times and have checked Audible from time to time to see if they were available. I am very pleased that 1632 is now available and sincerely hope that the other books in the series will be following on.
This is an alternate history/time travel book. Basically, a chunk of Earth about 6 miles in diameter is lifted out of West Virginia in our time and is transferred intact to Germany 400 years ago. There is a small town on this chunk of land, and the book deals with the trials and troubles of that small band of Americans dealing with life during the 30 Years War.
One of the problems they have to face is how to recreate the society they came from without being able to jump on the Internet to order replacement parts when things break. Another problem is how to get along with their Medieval neighbors who have different ideas about religion, caste, etc. And they are having to solve these problems in the middle of one of the more vicious wars that ever tore Europe apart.
The author clearly did plenty of research on the way of life at that time, including the various political elements that were in play, the big political names of the day, and methods of warfare. I hope this doesn't sound dry, because this book is anything but dry. There is lots of action from the very beginning. The problems these people face are fierce, and they plow into them with enthusiasm and intelligence. They also kick a lot of butt along the way!!
The book is narrated by George Guidall, and he does his usual excellent job.
I highly recommend this book.
Eric Flint's 1632 is the first in an entire universe of books known as the "Ring of Fire". The premise is that Grantville, a West Virginia coal mining town, is plopped down in the middle of Thuringia(one of the Germanic states) in the year 1632, right in the middle of one of the bloodiest and nastiest wars in history, the 30 Years War.
This book, and the follow on books, are extremely well researched and will give you insights into a period and area most of us know nothing at all about. But forget all that, they're FUN, especially those written exclusively or primarily by Eric Flint. The protagonist from the Grantville side is Mike Stearns, the President of the United Mine Workers of America Local. How the people of Grantville, especially the UMWA miners, survive, interact with their new neighbours, and ultimately thrive in this new environment makes for an engrossing tale.
The book is very well read by George Guidall. His pace is good, his ability to distinguish voices without hamming it up is excellent, and the overall result is that I enjoy his reading without the reading overpowering the story. Highly recommended.
Ok, the headline may be harsh, but it explains why a good performance and a good story manage to combine into a sum that's less than the individual parts.
The writing is decent, if unremarkable. The historical research adequate. The pacing ok. What's wrong then? Well, this is a time-travel book confronting modern Americans with Enlightenment Europeans in the midst of a religious war. So, if you abstract from the lack of 1-any discussion (even in passing) of religion, 2-any serious conflict between past and present values, 3-any character (modern or past) being remotely phased by the juxtaposition of times and 4-the lack of character development or ambiguity, then you will love this book.
Since I want this review to be helpful to prospective readers, I have to reiterate that it's not bad (if it stunk there would not be several sequels), it's just that the plot description suggested (at least to me) more thoughtful entertainment than what feels like a formulaic TV script.
Say something about yourself!
Time travel novels typically involve one or a small number of people who move through time and confront various potential paradoxes as a result. Typical alternative history novels select one critical event and ask what would have happened had that event gone differently. What is distinctive and initially captivating about 1632 is that an entire West Virginia town and the 30 or so square miles around it are transported in time to the middle of what will become modern Germany, smack in the middle of the 30-years war (actually it’s swapped with an equal chunk of medieval Europe, but we don’t get to hear their story). This allows the authors to explore the confrontation of a large part of the infrastructure and culture of the modern west with the feudal culture of 17th century Europe, and they do it in a way that is generally very entertaining. They have certainly done their homework on the history of the period, and it actually motivated me to read more of that history myself. And George Guidall is, as always, just superb. That’s the good. The bad is that there are so many missed opportunities here. The effects of the transplanted American culture on the world of 1632 are incredibly predictable for the most part (automatic rifles vs. the arquebus, motorized vehicles vs. the horse, etc.), and even political events play out predictably, especially if one knows the characters involved in the actual history. The result is that there are none of the surprising, thought-provoking twists that one finds in alternative histories by writers like Harry Turtledove. The ugly is that the authors can’t keep their own political biases from showing from the very first pages, so the good guys are all pragmatic socialists who talk a lot about principles but then violate them whenever they become inconvenient. And of course they have rounded up the usual suspects to play the bad guys (including some, of course, who would be bad guys in anyone’s book). It’s all a bit too stereotyped to be really thought provoking, and some of it is just plain wrong-headed. I’m still glad I listened to it, and it ends with enough plot lines still unresolved that I had to check out the next book in the series (separate review), but that will be it for me.
I like sci-fi and fantasy, and can accept the initial premise that a town in modern day West Virginia has been mysteriously sent back to 1632 Germany. That is the cool part of the story. The problem is with the characters - they are mostly caricatures. And while that is fine for many entertaining novels with heavy action, this book, after the opening sequences, spends a lot of time on character "development." If you can call following the thoughts and dialogue of stock characters "development." Chunks of the book read like a romance novel, with breathless, love-at-first-site encounters and courtship. The Americans, almost without exception, are an amazingly virtuous lot, that embody the best American principals - hard work, self reliance, inclusion, democracy, tolerance, practicality, fairness, ingenuity - without fail. This is in stark contrast to the bad guys - who are truly vile. The narrator, George Guidall, is so good, that he can make this pulp seem to have substance. Yet Guidall can only cover for the author for so long. Eventually, you notice that your velveeta topped cheeseburger is missing the meat, and you only have a mouthful of cheese.
I have read other alternative history novels (Destroyermen, Lost Regiment). They all work the same way: a time/space tunnel sends our all-American-heros to a backward and cruel world, some times human (as in this case), other times alien. Our guys find some naive local friends, teach them modern technology and together they overcome great difficulties and enemies, albeit never completely so that a new book in the series can be written and purchased by the eager fans of the series. It would be entertaining to figure out the history of this type of book plot to understand who copied whom. This book is written and read competently, can be listen to with ease and provides good mindless entertainment. The bad guys get whipped mercilessly making the listener feel warm and cozy. The story smells of neocolonialism as we finally find a receptive foreign crowd that soaks up the American way. Of course, being post medieval mittel-Europe, most current cultures would have been a better way of life. In summary, I enjoyed listening to this book but did not get any smarter in the process. No way I am going to pick the next in the series.
The Grantville series is well known, and has a large following. I have been waiting for Audible to get these for some time.
They are a phenomena to those who love both histories, and thinking about what might be.
Why doesn't Audible make an arrangement to get the rest of these from Recordedbooks,com?
I don’t have a lot of time for reading, but Audible allows me to listen to all the great books that I thought I would never get to read.
I have waited for this book to be available on Audible from the very first day I joined the site. I love this book and can’t wait for the rest of the series.
BRING ON THE REST!!!! 1633, Ring of Fire, 1634 and so on…
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