Monday, April 22, 2013

Noted Review: 1632 Sequels



Flint, Eric and Charles E. Gannon. 1635: The Papal Stakes-eARC. Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2012. (11156 Locations) Advanced Reader Copy Unproofed Kindle e-book. (N)

Flint, Eric, Georg Huff, and Paula Goodlett. 1636: The Kremlin Games. Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2012. (6184 Locations) Kindle e-book. (N)

We now return to world where the introduction of a modern American town into the middle of the Thirty Years War alters the technological, political, and religious timeline of 1630s.


#15 in the multiple best-selling Ring of Fire Series.

It's springtime in the Eternal City, 1635. But it's no Roman holiday for uptimer Frank Stone and his pregnant downtime wife, Giovanna. They're in the clutches of would be Pope Cardinal Borgia, with the real Pope—Urban VIII—on the run with the renegade embassy of uptime Ambassador Sharon Nichols and her swashbuckling downtime husband, Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz. Up to their necks in papal assassins, power politics, murder, and mayhem, the uptimers and their spouses need help and they need it quickly.

Special rescue teams—including Harry Lefferts and his infamous Wrecking Crew—converge on Rome to extract Frank and Gia. And an uptime airplane is on its way to spirit the Pope to safety before Borgia's assassins can find him. It seems that everything is going to work out just fine in sunny Italy.

Until, that is, everything goes wrong. Now, whether they are prisoners in Rome or renegades protecting a pope on the run, it's up to the rough and ready can do attitude of Grantville natives to once again escape the clutches of aristocratic skullduggery and ring in freedom for a war torn land. (Publisher's website)

1635: The Papal Stakes was particularly fascinating reading for this Lutheran following the retirment of Benedict XVI and before the selection of Francis I. I shared the following with my congregation in our March Newsletter:

There are really only two seasons in Wyoming. Winter and Road Construction. Both are seasons for Caution.


You can tell that "Spring" is here when it snows on your way in to church on Sunday and it has melted by the time we get out of church.


Everybody knows when it is Road Construction Season. We see orange cones, orange signs, and orange vests on workers. And we have to slow down and switch lanes.


Since the Pope announced his resignation, and the Roman church is preparing for a conclave to select a new Pope, I'd like to offer some evangelical words of caution.


The media is excited. Roman Catholics are excited. We, as Lutherans especially, have reason for caution.


In 1537, Lutherans laid out our basic concerns with the Roman Church and the office of the papacy. The document is called the Treatise, short for the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, part of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions and is also available to read for free online (


The first four lines read like this:


1]The Roman Pontiff claims for himself [in the first place] that by divine right he is [supreme] above all bishops and pastors [in all Christendom].


2]Secondly, he adds also that by divine right he has both swords, i.e., the authority also of bestowing kingdoms [enthroning and deposing kings, regulating secular dominions etc.].


3]And thirdly, he says that to believe this is necessary for salvation. And for these reasons the Roman bishop calls himself [and boasts that he is] the vicar of Christ on earth.


4]These three articles we hold to be false, godless, tyrannical, and [quite] pernicious to the Church.


The Treatise is a quick read. It is only 82 paragraphs long. Lutherans should read it any time there is a vacancy in the office of pope. It answers head-on the false Roman claim that Jesus made Peter the first pope in Matthew 16:18.


If you don't own a copy of the Book of Concordand do not have access to a computer, please contact the office and we can arrange to print a copy of the Treatise for you.


The announcement of the new pope will be made soon, before Palm Sunday, with white smoke, ceremony, an announcement of the new pope's new name, and a post on Twitter. There will also be the Latin announcement: Habemus Papam! (We have a Pope!) As Christians we rejoice in what we have in common with other Christians from Scripture alone. Our announcement will remain: Habent papa. Habemus Christum! (They have a pope. We have Christ!)

Theologians will appreciate the detailed discussions in this novel of the applicability of Vatican II council decisions on the new 1635 timeline and also the propriety of a Roman Pope seeking asylum under a Protestant Emperor. I love that a sci-fi alternate history series takes religion so seriously!

Skip ahead a year to 1636 and see how a one-time Grantville "loser" makes quite a name for himself in Russia.


After carving a place for itself in war-torn 17th century Europe, the modern time-displaced town of Grantville, West Virginia has established its new mission and identity. Yet some have been left behind—people like goodtime Bernie Zeppi, courageous in battle, but a bust in life.

Bernie gets his second chance when he's hired to help Mother Russia modernize. Now war with Poland is afoot and Russia is about to get a revolution from within—three centuries early! It's do or die time for good-time Bernie. His task: to save the Russian woman he has come to love and the country he has come to call his own from collapse into a new Dark Age. (Publisher's website)

I have long appreciated the cover art of the 1632 universe books (with the exception of many of the Grantville Gazette paperback book covers for reasons of modesty). 

What did this cover remind me of? Readers of my generation who grew up with the Dukes of Hazzard tv show will not be disappointed by the action, technology, intrigue, and even romance of 1636: The Kremlin Games

Intended or not, Bernie Zeppi is in a struggle for his life, not unlike the similarly-titled The Hunger Games.

Granted, there must be a suspension of disbelief when it comes to time travel, etc. in this 1632 series. But if you begin by assuming the "interference" of people from the future, Flint, Gannon, Huff, and Goodlett deliver on realistic consequences based on their original and entertaining premise.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

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