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1636: The Devil's Opera (Ring of Fire) by Eric Flint and David Carrico
Cover Artist: Tom Kidd
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781451639285
Date: 01 October 2013 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: E. Flint's Website / D. Carrico's Website / Show Official Info /

Simon Bayer is a small boy who does not have the use of one arm. He is struggling to get by until he comes in contact with Hans Metzger, the top fighter in Magdeburg. Simon becomes part of Hans' life, once Hans' views Simon as a good luck charm. Simon also becomes a confidant and friend to Hans' sister Ursula. Hans has one goal, to make sure he secures a future for his sister. To this end he fights, and occasionally does a side job for his warehouse boss.

Detectives Lieutenant Gotthilf Cheiski and Sergeant Byron Hoch are investigating a murder. They know that Hans is hiding something, they just don't know what he is hiding. So they begin to track him and come in contact with Hans and Simon on a regular basis.

Marla and Franz are planning to perform a new show in Magdeburg in support of Gustav who lies unconscious. They chose to perform the first opera in Magdeburg. As with all that happens, the influence of uptime music will play a role. With the help of local composers, they adapt some music from a famous story. The songs when converted to German, resonate. One fan may bring it all tumbling down.

While some are going along with their own lives and plans, others are working to sow destruction. A series of accidents are created to disrupt the city and its development. At each step the destruction, damage, and death toll grow.

The Devil's Opera is the latest entry into the Ring of Fire series. The action takes place at the same time as those in 1636: The Saxon Uprising. This is a later book in a well-established world and is not the best entry point. For information on where to start and the reading order see Eric Flintís website (link at the top of this review).

The Ring of Fire, created by Eric Flint, is the ultimate shared universe. There are numerous authors and fans involved in creating and maintaining the timeline and continuity as well as filling in the stories from around the world.

Hans was often compared to the biblical character Samson at numerous times including his nickname. But as I read this story, I was reminded more of the tragic heroes that David Gemmel wrote. He seemed more like Druss, a big man that fought in the pits. His indomitable spirit kept him going forward when a lesser man would have faltered. The foreshadowing leaves no doubt as to Hans' eventual fate. Knowing what his fate will be, does not mean that you can't still cheer him on. His spirit and passion will impact the lives of numerous people in Magdeberg.

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