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1634: The Galileo Affair (The Ring of Fire) Mass Market Paperback – August 1, 2005

3.3 out of 5 stars 86 customer reviews
Book 6 of 19 in the Ring of Fire Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

After the emotionally draining tragedy that concluded Flint and David Weber's 1633 (2002), Flint (The Philosophical Strangler) and newcomer Dennis provide a more lighthearted interlude in Renaissance Italy. Grantsville, a West Virginia mining community that a black hole transported back to the Thirty Years War, now forms the kernel of a fledgling democratic Germany. An embassy to Venice is led by Grantsville's only Roman Catholic priest, whose revelations about Vatican II meet a surprisingly unhostile reception. When the pope appoints this priest advocate for Galileo at his trial for supporting the Copernican theory, teenagers from uptime, combined with local Italian sympathizers, are convinced by Cardinal Richelieu's agents to stage a rescue mission whose assured failure will discredit the Americans' efforts. In many ways this reads like a Tom Clancy techno-thriller set in the age of the Medicis with the Three Stooges thrown in for seasoning. In the tradition of Italy's commedia dell'arte, the rollicking plot serves to bring two lovers together despite formidable obstacles. It's refreshing to read an alternate history where the problems of two people do amount to a hill of beans, which isn't surprising, since all the installments in this popular series to date have focused as much on ordinary people as on kings and generals. The closing chase sequence is literally a riot.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–Fans of 1632 (2000), 1633 (2002), and Ring of Fire(2004, all Baen) will find that while 1634 is long on political intrigue and romance, it lacks the fast-paced military action that was the highlight of those books. It's also clear from the ending that another one is in the works. The back story is the continuing adventures of the citizens of the small mining town of Grantsville, WV, transported to 17th-century Germany, then in the middle of the Thirty Years' War. This fourth installment centers around a trade mission to Venice that leads into an attempt to free Galileo from his trial and house arrest by the Inquisition. That Galileo turns out to be crotchety and unpleasant instead of a noble defender of truth only adds to the mix. This is a good choice for fans of alternative history, although those who prefer the more serious work of Harry Turtledove may find it too upbeat for their taste. Also, familiarity with previous titles is a must as the authors place readers right in the middle of the action.–Sallie Barringer, Walnut Hills High School, Cincinnati, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Ring of Fire
  • Mass Market Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Baen (August 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743499190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743499194
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.6 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #409,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This volume in the alternate history series based on Eric Flint's 2000 novel "1632" follows "Ring of Fire" and "1633," and is the first of several planned "1634: ..." books to be published. Even though "Ring of Fire" is an anthology, it should be read before "1634: The Galileo Affair," since stories in it introduce and develop many of the main characters (Father Mazzare, the Stones, Mazarini) and set up much of the plot. "1632" and "1633" should be read as well, of course.
At the beginning of "1634: The Galileo Affair," the new United States of Europe is not in the best strategic situation. Simultaneously at war with England, France, Spain, Denmark, Austria and various other polities, it is running short of allies - the Dutch Republic is in dire straights, while Bohemia has its hands full trying to break away from Austria. To try to break out of this encirclement and tap into Mediterranean trade, an embassy is sent to the Venetian Republic.
At the head of the embassy are Father Mazzare and Reverend Jones, along with Sharon Nichols and Tom 'Stoner' Stone, a nurse and chemist (respectively), who will be sharing their medical knowledge with the Italians as a demonstration of good faith. Accompanying Stone are his three teenage sons, who (following their hormones and the lovely Giovanna) quickly fall in with a group of incompetent but enthusiastic revolutionaries hoping to Americanize Italy. They are sucked into a wacky, hare-brained scheme to free Galileo from the Inquisition and take him north to Grantville and Freedom. This plot would probably be harmless were it not receiving expert assistance from a French agent provocateur under orders to discredit the USE.
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I struggled a bit with how to review this novel. First, let me say it definitely does not stand well on its own, and it represents a pretty far departure from 1632.
Let's recap briefly. You've got 1632 where Grantville, WV from present day gets sucked back into time and deposited in the middle of Germany during the 30 Year War. This first book is really fun and I highly recommend. The focus is mostly about the people of Grantville and the initial folks they come into contact with.
Then you've got 1633. The focus is still mostly on the main characters from 1632, but the book is no longer just about the situation of Germany. The "battles" - political as well as physical - involve all of Europe. The politics and religion of the time begin to play a much larger role.
Ring of Fire is a departure from the linear story and is basically a series of short stories to lay the ground work for sub-plots and develop additional characters. It's actually quite good too.
Then you get to 1634: The Gallileo Affair. I'm a little on the fence on this one. There is very little about the major characters from 1632 - Mike Stearns, Rebecca and crew. The primary characters are the Stones (Grantville's flower children) and the local priests - Mazzare and Jones. The characters are good, but I still miss Mike and Becky, but that's okay. They can't be everywhere.
I really enjoy the detail and background of Venice and the Catholic Church. I'm not enough of a historian to know if its really accurate, but if its not it seems very plausible and it makes for a fascinating read.
My biggest complaint is that the primary story thread - freeing Gallileo (I'm not giving away anything here hence the name of the book) is carried out by a bunch of numbskulls.
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Format: Hardcover
There is a good reason Eric Flint's 163x series sells books. They are good fiction combined with an exceptional knowledge of history. In the first book, 1632, readers got a view of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, but hardly known to most Americans. The situation of a group of Americans stranded in the middle of the 30 years war was a great chance to focus on how American values of tolerance can affect others.
In 1633, the people from the era have learned all about the Americans, have managed to get books from the today, and are trying to change the flow of history. Cromwell is arrested and sent to the Tower of London before he ever thinks of revolt. Richelieu in France buys North America from the British and plans a new empire. There is betrayal galore.
In the new book (with several threads coming from the book of stories, Ring of Fire), a group of Americans is sent to Venice to build trade with the Ottoman Empire, make friends throughout Italy, but most importantly to deal with issues within the Catholic Church. Father Larry Mazzare, the one priest from current America, is the ambassador and he winds up in a deliciously interesting position: defense counsel at an Inquisition trial...for Galileo, who turns out to be not quite as heroic as pictured. The differing shades of gray indtead of clear black and white as representations of motives help make this a fascinating work. There are sub-plots galore and fascinating characters. Not all Americans are good, not all downtimers are evil or stupid.
I consider the series the best in all Alternative History although I also enjoy Turtledove and Stirling. The books are a treat for SciFi fans as well as for those who enjoy good history...even though it is a history that never existed.
I'm already reserving the next book in the series...a full year away.
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