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1635: The Wars for the Rhine (Ring of Fire) by Anette Pedersen
Cover Artist: Thom Kidd
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Trade Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476782225
Date: 06 December 2016 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

As war is waged across the continent, some lands try to stay on the fence and out of it. It is difficult when there is knowledge of the future. But the future is no longer set. But sometimes the things that brought fame and fortune are still in place. There is also religious strife to deal with Catholic versus Protestant.

Katharina Charlotte is the heir to much of the Rhine Territory with the death of the Duke of Jülich-Berg and his heir. With Archbishop Ferdinand of Cologne trying to control her and her future, things look pretty bleak, especially with Katharina left in the hands of the Archbishop's torturer.

The Landgrave Hesse-Kassel sees an opportunity on the Rhine. His land became nothing in the future Grantville came from. If he can gain access to the cities on the Rhine, maybe he will be remembered. He moves to annex the cities in the territory before he can be called to task, following the "Better to ask forgiveness than permission" plan.

Melchior von Hatzfeldt is a mercenary general. He is pulled into the area by the schemes of others. He hopes to save the region from both the Landgrave and the Archbishop.

This novel is built around the core of several shorter pieces of fiction. It is not part of the main Ring of Fire storyline, but it does fill in important information related to the stabilization of the Rhine. None of the main characters from the main storyline have a significant role in this novel. Author Pedersen has come up through the slush in the 1632 universe.

This is an interesting piece of fiction as it deals with how downtimers deal with knowledge of the future. There isn't a lot of technology growth in this novel. The action is political and social. The plight of a region trapped between major powers is laid out. Charting a separate path is very difficult.

This is a piece of a much larger shared world. As such it isn't an easy entry point for new readers. The basics are covered in 1632 and 1633 by Eric Flint. Even having read all of the other novels in the series, I still found myself referring to the maps and cast of characters. This is one of the problems in a Shared Universes, there are too many characters to easily track. Those who are tertiary may jump to the fore in a later novel. Fans of the series will find something to like here.

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