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1636: The Vatican Sanction (Ring of Fire) by Eric Flint and Charles E. Gannon
Cover Artist: Tom Kidd
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781481482776
Date: 05 December 2017 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: E. Flint's Website / C.E. Gannon's Website / Show Official Info /

The Vatican storyline comes to a thrilling conclusion as Pope Urban calls together his cardinals and leaders of the other religions and sects under the watchful eyes of the Wild Geese in Besanšon. There is plenty to watch as Borja has assassins in place with orders to disrupt the event.

Some claim Byzantine politics were complicated, but they have nothing on the Vatican. A potential usurper, Borja, holds Rome for the Spanish. He wants to see Urban die, so Urban's proposals related to Vatican II do not hold sway. He has agents in place and a plan. But of course, there are others also wanting to create chaos at the Papal Council. There are plots within plots and multiple sides, all the pieces are in place for a major mess.

Cardinal Larry Mazzare from Uptime is one of the keys. He brought knowledge of future Papal rulings and meetings. The church of the Twentieth Century is very different from that of the Seventeenth. But there is a large amount of distrust between the Catholic sects and the Protestants as well as those of other faiths. To come together, many past transgressions must be forgiven. This is a tall order with so little basis for trust.

Sharon Nichols is on site as both a doctor and an emissary to the Vatican. She helps with both her medical knowledge and information related to future technology. Her information will be critical in attempting to foil the various plots. She may even be able to save those on the brink of death.

As the concluding novel in a branching series, it is not the best starting point for new readers. This subset of novels starts with 1634: The Galileo Affair. It is also a part of the Ring of Fire series which starts with 1632. This is an immense world that is supplemented by additional short stories and technical papers published through The Grantville Gazette. It has been the starting point for several new authors as well as a home to several established authors. The stories span the globe, although most of the action takes place in Europe, while this series focused on Italy and the Vatican.

I enjoy the whole series, but I honestly struggle with stories featuring Ruy Sanchez and Pedro Delor. I dislike both characters intensely and spend most of the time reading the story hoping for them to die. Sadly, my hopes and wishes come to naught, as both characters have roles to play going forward they have some pretty thick plot armor, but a guy can dream. Readers will finally see the true plans of Delor.

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