New York Times best-selling author Eric Flint continues his Ring of Fire series with esteemed sci-fi author Charles E. Gannon.
Rome in the year 1635 finds Frank Stone and his pregnant wife Giovanna in the clutches of Cardinal Borgia, whose political machinations and papal assassins may soon elevate him to Pope Borgia. Now Frank, along with Harry Lefferts and his infamous Wrecking Crew, must protect Pope Urban VII from all manner of treachery.
©2012 Eric Flint and Charles E. Gannon (P)2013 Recorded Books
Triplanetary Recording Engineer, Audio Book Fan
I really enjoyed Papal Stakes. In the Ring of Fire series it is a wonderful addition and key story. Finally getting a good story with the Wrecking Crew is something every afficionado has been waiting for and we have gotten a very good answer to our wish.
George Guidall took a very difficult read and pulled it off with absolute aplomb. Though I was critical of his earlier performances, he took this story and made it his own. I suspended all disbelief and rode his reading of this tale like it was a magic carpet.
I hope that more books in the series and the Grantville Gazette come out. I am willing to pay for every bit of this series that comes to light.
Eric Flint has written a number of books that are so good that he would be on my list of favorite authors if he hadn’t written such a high proportion of books that are so bad that I sometimes swear I will never again read anything with his name on it. (All of these bad books were co-authored with inferior writers.)
This book is part of Flint’s Ring of Fire series. The first book in the series, “1632", is very good, and the two books he wrote with David Weber are also good. The story begins in Central Germany in 1632 in the midst of the 30 Years War. But soon the action spreads to involve most of Europe. Because the action is so huge and over such vast areas, he has broken the books out into spinoffs which he calls threads. This book is the third in the Southern European Thread.
After reading the first book and the two collaborations with David Weber, I was so thrilled that I bought the first two books in the Southern European thread (both co-authored with Andrew Dennis) at the same time in hardback. I plowed through the first, “1634: The Galileo Affair,” but was so disgusted by it that I donated the second, “1635: The Cannon Law,” to my local library unopened. Periodically, I reread “1632" and being hungry for more of the same, I will try another of the spinoffs. I am usually disappointed. After reading “The Galileo Affair,” I would never read another book with Andrew Dennis’s name on it. But when this book came out, I saw that Flint had a new co-author for it, and the reviews indicated that this book was better than its two predecessors in this thread.
So I bought it....... Sigh.
There are several subplots going on at once in this book, and one of them follows the group that is trying to save the pope who has been deposed by a cardinal who plans to kill him and put himself in as the new pope. The bad guy, a Borgia, is portrayed as so evil and stupid that the only comparisons that come to me are the bad guys from super-hero comic books or Saturday morning cartoons. The supposed good-guy pope doesn’t have credentials much better. In this book it is mentioned that in history he is mainly known for his extreme nepotism. He supplied his family members with everything he could get his peculating hands on. And something I read about him elsewhere indicated that he had a habit of sending out squads of assassins to deal with people he couldn’t get out of his hair any other way. Yet in this book he is revered by everybody whether Catholic or not, and we the readers are subjected to long, dull arguments about the various tenets of twelfth century catholocism. Somewhere, Robert Heinlein remarked, “One man’s religion is another man’s belly laugh.” I am neither Catholic nor a Christian. I can’t really get into arguments about the infallibility of the pope or whether good people should consider it their duty to save the souls of unbelievers by burning them at the stake.
Another subplot involves efforts to rescue a young couple in the hands of the evil wannabe pope. These people are being held in comfort, although the threat of harsher treatment is always at hand. But meanwhile dozens of military personnel and hundreds of innocent civilians are being tortured and killed in the attempt to rescue two people. What? I just couldn’t see any justification for this. In real life some innocent civilians may be captured and held prisoner by the enemy, but usually the best way to rescue them is to win the war, not waste far more lives making ridiculous commando raids deep into enemy territory.
The book is waaaay too long for the material it covers. There are waaaay too many characters, making it difficult to remember who is a good guy and who isn’t. The storyline switches from one subplot to another waaaay too often so that it is impossible to get involved in any of them.
So: if you have read or listened to all the previous books in this series and liked them, you will probably like this one too. But for the majority of readers, I cannot recommend this book.
This book is in the top 10 of my 155 audiobooks.
It is part of a series so one could compare it to the others on audio. But, I like to compare it to other time travel books like All Clear or other sci-fi Books like Hunger Games. This series is very much better than the others. Check out this series, but start with 1632 so you really get to know the situation before you try to skip around. This is a fun way to look at history. And you will probably want to see how it happened in the world we live in. These books are great for high school readers and should be on to curriculum.
My favorite scene was the conclave to discuss the nature of the Up-timers and the world they came from. The questions and topics posed by the priests seem to mirror some of the questions we are pondering today.
Of cource you will want to read it all at once:but you must put it down and attend to the mundane tasks like eating, sleeping, and smelling the roses of our world.
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