1632, Eric Flint (Baen, 2000)

Grade: Γ  — Good book within the genre.  Solid story, good characters, if you like this genre, read this book.

 In brief:

This is the very enjoyable first book in the Assiti Shards and/or the 1632 series (q.v.).  The premise is simple: when a somewhat irresponsible species, the Assiti are creating a bit of artwork, the detritus from its creation splinter the space-time continuum surrounding the small West Virginia town of Grantsville.  The result is that it is displaced with a part of Germany from 1632.  This hurls the miner population from the rural town into the middle of the 30 Years War, one of the bloodiest periods in Western History.  While some of the history is greatly simplified, and there is a tendency to make good-guy bad-guy associations with Protestants (good) vs. Catholics (bad), Flint generally keeps a relatively good historic perspective and creates one of the most innovative and interesting speculative fiction pieces to be published in a long time.

Setting:

Grantsville West Virginia, 2000 and Germany 1632.

In Depth:

You want a new, interesting premise that calls upon one of the most fascinating, least talked about, bits of history and puts it into an action packed ripping yarn?  Read this book.

Oh there are lots of petty little historic complaints I could make, and yes, the characters sometimes seem a bit too good to be believed, but forget all that crap.  This book was good fun and did a solid job of piecing together a great story in a great setting. 
The only reason I didn’t give it a Beta rating is that some of the style used won’t sit well with the Literarchs, and honestly, is at times overly simplistic for my tastes.  What is more, however, was the glaring problem that stretched my ability to suspend disbelief.  That problem was not in the historic details, nor in the supernatural events that displaced the town of Grantsville in the first place (actually the description of this was one of the funniest and most neatly done bits in the book).  It was with the characters.

Everyone in the book was a bit too open minded. Oh, don’t get me wrong.  I don’t prescribe to the belief that all people in West Virginia are narrow minded bigots (assuming that would be bigoted, no?).  It’s that none of them were bigots.  Every town everywhere has its share of individuals who view the Other (be they black, white, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, etc. etc. ) as subhuman, and I just think it seemed a bit unusual that none of them lived in Grantsville. 

Furthermore, I was somewhat disappointed that the population of 1632 Europe was equally open minded.  Oh, in one sense I was relieved that they were portrayed as rational, thinking human beings.  Yet, in another sense, certain elements (say witchcraft) were breezed over too quickly. Surely even some of the more enlightened minds such as Gustvus Adophus and Wallerstein would have given greater thought to the black arts than they did in this story.  After all, witch hunting was a very popular pastime in the 17th Century and part of the Thirty Years War itself was about religion.

This aside, however, the story did reasonably good justice to the period, and made for a rip roaring fun read.  Humor and action abounded throughout the tale, and the characters were very likable and enjoyable.  Good, solid, simple prose mark Flint’s style, and I would recommend this to anyone interested in action stories, Alternate Histories or historic fun. 

Added to this, the book is available as a free download from Baen’s Free Library.  I give fair warning, however, once you read this one, you may end up spending money for the rest of the series.  For me, however, this has been money well spent. 

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About Thomas Evans

I'm a writer of mysteries, espionage, and speculative fiction. In my previous incarnation I was an archaeologist specializing in gender and identity in Iron and Bronze Age Europe. Mostly, however, I was known for my works with the use of geomatics, multiscalular spatial analysis and landscape theory within archaeology.
This entry was posted in Original Fiction, Place-Out-Of-Time, Ripping Yarn, Science Fiction, Series, Time Travel Story, Unique or Imaginative World and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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