1635: A PARCEL OF ROGUES by Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis
Ring of Fire
Baen, January 2016
When the ring of fire sends a West Virginia town into the past, the library goes with it. Now, three years later, Europe’s leaders have learned their fates in our own timeline… and many intend to do something about it. Which is why King James threw Oliver Cromwell into the Tower of London and has been persecuting many of the others who played a role in his overthrow and execution. Unfortunately for James, Cromwell links up with the Americans also locked in the Tower and together they manage an escape.
Most of the Americans return to Europe but Cromwell and a small group of Americans stay in England to rescue Cromwell’s surviving children. They’re pursued by a group of Irish mercenaries in James’s service. Finnegan, the Irish leader intends to catch Cromwell no matter what obstacles he faces. So, what’s good about this book? Good research into an important part of English/Scottish/Irish history. Action, with Cromwell and company fleeing but also laying a foundation of a future revolution against the unlawful acts of King James, while Finnegan pursues like the bounty hunters from Butch Cassidy. I also liked that the three main groups, Finnegans, Cromwell’s and James’s deputy for Scotland, Montrose are largely sympathetic, pursuing understandable goals that lead them into conflict.
What’s not so good about this book? First, it’s a transition book. Cromwell is on his road to revolution but this book doesn’t actually contain a revolution, it’s simply setting things up. What actually happens in this book could have been a chapter in a fascinating alternate English Civil War rather than an entire book. Second, Flint and company (see more BooksForABuck reviews of speculative fiction by Flint) have not completely overcome their tendency to write in huge blocks of paragraphs, having characters lecture one another and having the authors lecture the readers. Third, the decision to adopt phonetical spelling for dialogue by Scottish characters slows down the reading and sometimes leads to nearly indecipherable passages.
I fell in love with 1632, the first book in the series but have been disappointed by some of the recent efforts (this is book 20 in the series). Despite some flaws, 1635: A PARCEL OF ROGUES is a dramatic step up from many of the other recent books in the series. I certainly am looking forward to the book when the English Civil War actually takes place.
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