I turned the page, so to speak in December, 2011 when I took the recommendation of a co-worker and downloaded the first book in the Ring of Fire alternate history series from Eric Flint from titled 1632. Described as the “ultimate Y2K glitch” when the town of Grantville, West Virginia, it’s surrounding area and residents find themselves in the middle of war torn Europe and the Thirty Years’ War. The year, 1632.
I had been tempted by Flint’s 1632 series previously, instead deciding to re-read all of Clive Cussler’s offerings instead. After talking to my friend further I was convinced to give his initial book a try. What I find most surprising about this series is the world that has been created at 1632.org in support of the series. Rarely do I get involved with “fan sites” that support a book or more commonly a video game, but this community that supports 1632 has a wealthy of information to offer to support Mr. Flint’s (and contributing writers) alternate reality.
Of the main characters, Mike Stearns, mine worker and UMWA member takes control the situation in an attempt to defend their town from neighboring Germany. As the charismatic leader of the Americans, Stearns is well liked, quick to think and decisive when it comes to his decision making skills. Early on in the book, he leads the mine workers against a marauding band mercenaries, which sets the stage for the rest of the book.
It’s the ultimate “butterfly effect’ as Grantville, West Virginia was brought into the middle of the Thirty Years War. The citizens of Grantville must quick adapt to their new surroundings of Thuringia or die. Known as “up-timers” these people band together behind charismatic leadership and a desire to survive and thrive in their new homeland as they face challenges.
Behind the leadership of Stearns they draw allegiance with Gustav II Adolf, the King of Sweden, as they go against the likes of Spain and underhanded dealings of Cardinal Richelieu in France. Both powerful leaders during this time period, one in which Gustav II Adolf gains the upper hand, thanks in part to the advanced technology.
Flint’s 1632 is the first in a continuing series (now up to 1636: The Saxony Uprising) of the Ring of Fire series. “Fans are encouraged to contribute to the series though an online message board known as Baen’s Bar. The entire Grantville Gazette and large portions of the Ring of Fire anthology, both of which are considered canonical, are paid, fan-written (albeit edited by Flint) works, and have directly contributed material to the main novels. The author also worked with other established authors to develop new stories and plot lines for further novels which are also published in the two Ring of Fire anthologies*.”
It’s quite amazing to see such support and collaborative efforts put forth by the like Eric Flint, David Weber, Andrew Dennis, Virginia DeMarce, Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett, along with many individuals who contribute to the 1632 universe at Baen’s Bar (forum) as well as through the Grantville Gazette. Currently I ‘m reading 1634: The Galileo Affair as the transplanted West Virginians continue making an impact in their new surroundings.
If you want some entertaining reading that really draws you in, this is a wonderful series. It’s been interesting to read excepts about the Thirty Years War or some of the powerful individuals during that period, along with some of the same scenarios that end up playing out differently than how history originally recorded them in the books brought by Grantville. You can even download 1632 for FREE.