Originally posted 12/03/10 in my meta/review blog
I have mixed feelings about the Ring of Fire series. On one hand, I loved the first few books, especially the first book in the series, 1632. On the other hand, I began to lose interest due to a combination of not liking the collaborative author, and problems with the way the stories and other novels jumping around within a three year period of time, and showing the results of a situation, without showing out the results came about. (This in particular was deeply annoying to me, and ended up making me reluctant to read the series due to the confusion.)
In 1635: The Eastern Front Mike is no longer the prime minister of the USE; he has been given a position as a general, and eventually heading off to invade Poland. (Which is something he disagrees with, though he’s going to see it through because all of his agreements with Gustav Adolph, the Emperor of the USE pretty much rely on following along with Gustav’s position as “commander in chief”) Accompanying Mike is Jeff Higgens, who is understandably annoyed that Mike Stearns has decided putting a captain with no real, formal military experience in charge of a battalion is a great idea.
Neither Gretchen nor Rebecca are happy about this situation, but both have their own agendas. Rebecca is writing a book about the political situation in the USE while taking care of her children. Gretchen meanwhile has chosen to move to Magdeburg, and work on CoC missions and projects, and taking under her wing a young member of the CoC who has a rather interesting, story inspiring history that is 25% pure fable.
Various problems that come up in the course of the story is a very unhappy princess and her not quite sane mother, assassins, and a succession crisis in the making. (A “succession crisis” occurs when the monarch has no heir, or if the heir is underage.) There is also a back lash concerning “upsider” reforms that are being backed up by Axel Oxenstierna and the Crown Loyalist Party. The succession crisis is instigated when Gustav Adolph falls in battle, and sustains brain injuries.
There were a lot of things I liked about this book. A lot of humor and character interaction, and exciting battle scenes. I liked the developing relationship between Ulrik and Kristina, and felt it was handled fairly well. (It might be slightly disturbing to some people however. Ulrik and Kristina are betrothed–Ulrik is an adult and Kristina is still a child.) It may or may not help the reader that Kristina’s governess is an “uptime” social worker.