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Ring of Fire (Assiti Shards) Hardcover – December 30, 2003
The Amazon Book Review
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From Publishers Weekly
Readers who enjoyed editor Flint's novels (1632; 1633) of a West Virginia town transported by a black hole back in time to Germany during the Thirty Years War will appreciate how neatly the other authors' tales in this strong anthology dovetail with Flint's series. For instance, the aging hippie of Mercedes Lackey's "To Dye For" has already played an important role in 1633. Other stories lead into Flint's forthcoming novel, The Galileo Affair, while still others provide major plot threads for this volume's concluding novella, Flint's "The Wallenstein Gambit." Following their editor's lead, individual contributors concentrate less on the impact that the displaced Americans' technology makes than on how their ideas-and ideals-inspire those newly exposed to them. Thus we see a young priest embracing the ideas of a Vatican Council over 300 years in his future as a solution to the sectarian violence of his era (Andrew Dennis's "Between the Armies"), while young Germans take to baseball as a means of pushing themselves beyond themselves (Deann Allen and Mike Turner's "American Past Time"). Flint and his followers never forget that history is more than just kings and heroes.
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If you are a reader of the series. Try to read this one in the order that Flint suggests. But, in actuality, it can be read in any order.
In the Navy gives a good back story to the development of the Virginian Navy. 4 stars. Then we go downhill talking about daily life of minor characters, without even really focusing on issues of correlating uptime and downtime. To Dye For, When the Chips are Down, and Biting Time are all not only poor puns, but boring to boot. American Past Time is similar, but it would have been a lot better if it has focused on the Croat invasion rather than simply baseball. 2,1,1, & 2 stars respectively.
A Lineman for the Country gives us more of the perspective of the outsiders of the strange Americans. We need more stories like this. 3 stars. Between the Armies is intriguing in the search by men of religion to find Truth and follow the ethical path. And it's nice to see some of these stories begin to be interwoven with eachother. 5 stars.
Power to the People goes back to the beginning to show us how people dealt with being pulled out of time, and away from their families. 3 stars.
A Matter of Consultation is interesting, but ultimately unhelpful as it picks up a continuing theme in this series of there being no problem with witches, or that they don't exist. While it is true that people should not be burned for their beliefs, it is unfortunate that the authors seem to have bent over in the other direction to allow that any old belief is eithe permissable or nonexistant. 2 stars. A Witch to Live at least takes a look at these issues more from a persecution standpoint, and therefore has more redemptive value. 4 stars.
Family Faith was just so badly written I could barely follow what was happening. 1 star.
Skeletons was excellent, moving, and suspenseful. There were real, interesting characters written here. Likewise Along with Here Comes Santa Claus, which had deuling intrigues and the reader has no idea where it will end. Both 5 stars.
The Three R's could be an intriguing development, with it's focus on the Moravians- but they could do more in highlighting the pacifist stance, rather than encouraging them to join in the fighting. It was nice to see this story picked up in a later story in the book. 3 stars.
It was also good to have the story really move forward finally in the Wallenstein Gambit, which picks up the Santa Claus and 3 R's stories, and begins to develop more plot. It helps that Flint writes this one. I wish he'd write more. He's the best author of the bunch, and knows his own universe best. 5 stars.
Onto 1634: The Galileo Affair..
Lackey's piece about Grantville's dope farmer's dying business is fun and enjoyable, as well as being historically intriguing. The piece about dentures isn't so strong, or at least I didn't find it so. K.D. Wentworth's X-mas party with deep political implications is my favorite of the lot - I went out and bought Wentworth's Moonspeaker right after I finished reading ROF- but Flint's story of how a small town Jewish jeweler becomes the savior of Prague is the most impressive of the group.
I didn't expect too much when I bought this book, but I was happily surprised by both the level of writing and the level of invention.
If you liked 1632, this is a good read. If you're interested in this altnerative universe, ROF is a good introduction.
An accurate historical background in an interesting historical period in Europe.
An olmost perfect translation of the clash between the technology of the beginning of the 21st century and the technology of the 17th century.
And of course, a frontal clash between modern American culture and ideology, and the darkness of the end of the Middle Ages!
I hope that the continuation will be at a similar level.