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The Epic Struggle of Freedom and Justice Against the Tyrannies of the 17th Century Continues, as European Cunning Meets American Courage.
The Thirty Years War continues to ravage 17th century Europe, but a new force is gathering power and influence: the Confederated Principalities of Europe, an alliance between Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, and the West Virginians from the 20th century led by Mike Stearns who were hurled centuries into the past by a mysterious cosmic ...
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The Epic Struggle of Freedom and Justice Against the Tyrannies of the 17th Century Continues, as European Cunning Meets American Courage.
The Thirty Years War continues to ravage 17th century Europe, but a new force is gathering power and influence: the Confederated Principalities of Europe, an alliance between Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, and the West Virginians from the 20th century led by Mike Stearns who were hurled centuries into the past by a mysterious cosmic accident. The democratic ideals of the CPE have aroused the implacable hostility of Cardinal Richelieu, effective ruler of France, who has moved behind the scenes, making common cause with old enemies to stop this new threat to the privileged and powerful. But the CPE is also working in secret. A group of West Virginians have secretly traveled to Venice where their advanced medical knowledge may prevent the recurrence of the terrible plague which recently killed a third of the city-state's population. At the same time, the group hopes to establish commercial ties with Turkey's Ottoman Empire, then at the height of its power. And, most important, they hope to establish private diplomatic ties with the Vatican, exploiting Pope Urban VIII's misgivings about the actions of Richelieu and the Hapsburgs. But a Venetian artisan involved with the West Virginians may cause all their plans to come to naught. Having read 20th century history books of the period, he has become determined to rescue Galileo from his trial for heresy. The Americans are divided on whether to help him or stop him-and whether he succeeds or fails, the results may be catastrophic for the CPE.
Now Mazarini was in the presence of Richelieu himself, trying to achieve-in spite of the heat-that chilly sharpness a diplomat needed. The cardinal's hard face, now that the pleasantries had been dealt with, indicated that the real negotiation was about to begin.
After only four weeks in Paris, at that; Richelieu must, Mazarini thought, have something in mind. The protocol of his nunciature had been brief. Mazarini had arrived from Rome with a retinue provided by Cardinal Barberini and augmented it from the permanent nunciature in Paris. His American companion Harry Lefferts had tried to pretend that he saw the likes of the procession through Paris every day back in Grantville, but Mazarini could see him frankly staring at everything. Pressed afterward, Harry had admitted that the twentieth century had not wanted for spectacle, but that it never came to country towns like Grantville. As it was, Harry had gotten only these few short weeks of mayhem, debauchery and drunkenness in Paris before a message that had missed him narrowly in Rome had called him home to Grantville; he was due to leave in the morning.
As much as he would miss Harry, Mazarini would be relieved to see him go. The flamboyant young American made friends everywhere he went. Unfortunately, the friends were concentrated in two classes of people:
Flamboyant Italian and French young men, who found the exciting and exotic American something of a role model-to the perhaps everlasting ruin of proper attire for proper young men. (Their habits had already included brawling and drunkenness, so those sins could hardly be laid at Harry's feet.)
Shortly after they'd arrived in Rome a few months earlier, Harry had gotten a formal suit done to his own specifications by a tailor who'd done it purely for the chance to take Harry's old rented tux apart to see how to make the style of trousers his customers were demanding. This time around, Harry had reasoned, men's formal wear would be done right. Pockets ranked high in Harry's scheme to anticipate the mistakes of fashion. The gentlemen of this future would not be stuck for somewhere to put a wallet, cigarettes, a few items for personal defense and his companion's spare lipstick. Jackets were replaced with tailcoats, as Harry had seen enough performances by someone called Lee Van Cleef to appreciate the practicality of the style for a man who wanted to wear a gun-belt. The swordsmen about town in Rome were glad of it, too.
The city's authorities were not.
The second category of people who made friends with Harry almost instantaneously were Italian and French young women. Alas. That characteristic had produced even more in the way of excitement than the first.
Mazarini was still a bit astonished that only two duels had resulted. That was probably because the outcome of the duels themselves. As the challenged party, Harry had been able to choose the weapons. The first duel had been a very informal affair-a tavern brawl which escalated rapidly-he'd naturally chosen pistols, that being the nature of the weapon carried under his coat. Harry had had the mercy and the good sense not to actually kill his opponents-but it had been blindingly obvious to all who witnessed the affair that he could have easily done so instead of inflicting minor flesh wounds.
The second duel, a more formal affair, was worse. Having been accused of cowardice by relying on unfairly superior American firearms, Harry had chosen a different weapon. Another American one, true, but hardly something that could be labeled unfair-a very large knife which he called a "Bowie knife." He had even grandly allowed his opponent to retain his rapier.
The choice had obviated his opponent's greater skill with swordsmanship. Harry had had no intention of trying to match him. He'd simply managed to avoid the first lunge and grappled with his opponent, Bowie knife against main gauche. Thereafter, fighting with knives at close quarters, those qualities which Harry possessed in abundance-great athletic ability and an outlook sanguine enough to be the envy of any Mongol khan-had come to the fore. The end result had been thoroughly fatal and incredibly messy.
Now that he was in the presence of the cardinal, Mazarini suppressed his sigh. Hopefully, Harry Lefferts would be gone from Paris and on his way back to Grantville before the very wealthy and very belligerent Fasciotti brothers-all five of them-discovered that their sister had been dishonored and came to Paris from Rome to seek satisfaction. There would be no duels, dealing with the Fasciotti. Hiring assassins came as naturally to them as hiring servants. All the more so since the sister in question was not complaining about the episode herself. Awkward, that.
But Richelieu was finally speaking. Mazarini pushed aside thoughts of his rambunctious American companion. There were many dangers in the world, after all. Compared to Richelieu, Harry Lefferts was a minor problem.
"Monsignor," said Richelieu, "You have visited Grantville, perhaps?"
"I have, Your Eminence."
Mazarini responded politely, despite the fact that the question was moot. It did not do for one gentiluomo to admit to another that he had had him spied on-or, in his response, for the one spied upon to draw attention to the fact. Mazarini's trip to Grantville had neither gone unnoticed nor unremarked. The resulting icy blast of Cardinal Richelieu's displeasure had been directed straight at Cardinal Barberini, who had in his turn deposited the whole lot on Mazarini once he'd arrived in Rome. Richelieu had a long reach; his eyes were everywhere and there were few within Europe who could not at least be apprised of his opinions if not made to suffer for his displeasure. He had latterly come to have most of the resources of France at his disposal; in a sense, he was France.
"Perhaps," Richelieu went on, "some things passed between the monsignor and-"
Mazarini interrupted him silently, staring with a carefully blank expression and placing his hand on his heart, before casting his eyes down. The gesture of one who, for ritual reasons, could not speak. If ritual had an advantage, it was the language of subtlety it allowed the cognoscenti to converse in.
Richelieu sighed. Ritual could also be a shield for those who chose to dissemble. He chose not to look upon the dissimulation. "Monsignor," he said after a little time, "you are aware, perhaps, of the news of the future brought by the Americans?" Richelieu rose and took the two steps that carried him to the window. "I ask in a spirit of genuine enquiry; you need not vouchsafe how much you know or where you have it from."
And such a freight of meaning in that! Mazarini found himself cold despite the heat, his palms sweating. He had never underestimated an opponent in his career to date, but he wondered whether it was possible to do anything else with the cardinal who ruled France.
For a wonder, his voice remained under control. "I am aware, yes." He thanked God silently for the calm; it was his best weapon at the card table and in negotiations.
He had already heard enough to deduce what was coming next. More than a few men had emerged, shocked and grinning, from the Palais in the last few weeks. The cardinal was promoting men, young and unknown men, and it was-well, not the talk of all Paris, but certainly noticed.
Richelieu remained at the window, looking out over the garden he had torn down the adjoining buildings to create. He could surely see little, Mazarini reflected. Paris in the spring meant mist and soft, clinging rain as much as fresh air and balmy breezes. The sky was the gray of over-washed linen and the streets a mire, clinging and glutinous. Everywhere was the stink of wet wool.
Richelieu let out a long breath. Not quite-but almost-another sigh. He half-turned, and addressed Mazarini over his shoulder. "It is more difficult, if you will say nothing?"
Richelieu clasped his hands behind his back and turned further. A long blink, then, both eyes closed for a whole breath before they opened, and he leaned forward a little. Earnestly: "I beg of you, Monsignor, not to take what I said as a suggestion that you might betray a confidence. I fancy we are both"-a little quirk of a smile to underline it-"professionals. Not so?"
Mazarini nodded. Richelieu had used the English word-a word that the seventeenth-century English almost certainly did not have and certainly would not understand the way that up-time Americans did. Mazarini felt his very frame lighten in his chair with the speed of his thoughts. The sheer celerity that came when one matched wits with a master-there was no thrill like it. To gamble all-or-nothing on one's own genius-and with a man who might say so much with the mere choice of a synonym! The mere turn of a clever phrase, a well-parsed statement, these were the common coin of diplomacy. Richelieu was one of a select few in another league altogether.
Richelieu closed his eyes again for another breath. "But I must broach a sensitive subject," he said, and turned back to look out at the dishwater sky.
Richelieu said nothing for some time, and it was Mazarini who broke the silence. He knew it was a trap, a trick he used himself. To break a silence without disadvantage was a delicate business.
"Sensitive?" he asked.
Richelieu, turning, saw Mazarini's raised eyebrow and smiled. "Monsignor, you are the man I crossed wits with at Lyons three years ago, not so? Perhaps I might be candid. Sub rosa, and the understanding between us that neither shall bear rancor for what passes here today?"
"Oh, surely." Mazarini permitted himself a broad smile. "Do any of those who were present at Lyon bear rancor?"
Richelieu's face missed not a beat, segueing into a worldly, knowing chuckle. "Ah, yes. Two of my dupes. I am sure that neither bear any rancor, where they are now. I feel sure they have more burning concerns."
Mazarini was impressed by that. Discussing the execution of two men who had been to all appearances his faithful allies, Richelieu actually twinkled. "Perhaps, Cardinal. But you were mentioning candor?"
Rubbing it in to begin with would not hurt. After all, the cardinal had asked specifically that neither party take offense. Mazarini harked back to what Cardinal Maurice of Savoy had told him about Richelieu: he must be made to feel that the decision depends on him alone. And there was little to achieve that better than an initial resistance.
"Candor, yes." Richelieu's eyes grew hooded. "I have something quite outlandish to suggest."
"I am sure, Your Eminence, that this room-" Mazarini waved at a wall at random "-and Servien back there has heard more outlandish propositions these last few weeks. And will again. Does not the delegation from Grantville arrive here in a few weeks?"
Richelieu smiled thinly. "Etienne is behind there," he said, pointing at the wall opposite that at which Mazarini had waved. "He and his clerk take notes. So much more discreet a man than his cousin at the Ministry of War."
Mazarini noted that Richelieu had neither confirmed nor denied what the Holy See's spies claimed to have discovered. "And Your Eminence's proposition?"
"Do you read English?"
"Very well, of late."
"Perhaps I might trouble you-" Richelieu opened a cabinet and took out a thick volume fringed with ribbon bookmarks, "-to read the passage I have marked."
Mazarini frowned at the volume as he took it. It was new, and well-made, apparently the work of a Parisian bookbinder. He riffled the pages; they were printed on the smooth and slightly marbled Turk's-paper that French bibliophiles loved so well. He looked inside the front cover to see that the frontispiece was-his eyebrows shot up. "From 1991?" he asked, looking up at the cardinal.
"Just so. I have had printed copies made and more securely bound." A slight sneer. "Whatever else the next three hundred years may bring, improvements in bookbinding were not among them. The books we have from Grantville began to fall apart quite quickly. I needed copies to refer to, and to distribute to ... various persons. Hand-copying would have engaged every stationer and monk in Paris for weeks and the originals were too fragile to pass around. So I ordered them typeset and the illustrations carefully cut by the best engravers I could find."
"Just so," Mazarini echoed. "And the passage to which Your Eminence wishes to direct my attention?"
"Ah, I do apologize. I began to muse on other matters. Permit me-" Richelieu leaned over to flip a page open by a bookmark. "Here," he said, tapping a bold-face heading.
Mazarini looked. It read: Mazarin, Cardinal Jules.
Mazarini focused his eyes on it, confirming that-as with other versions he had seen-they had gotten his birth-date wrong. Two days, but still-
He looked up at Richelieu. "I have read this. Or one much like it."
"They are all much alike, that I have seen."
To keep silence now, that was painful. Mazarini could not. "I have spoken with-I have spoken with a number of people-"
And the words dried up. He felt his palms start again with sweat, his pulse hammer in his ears. The abstract-the dry statement of a textbook that spoke of a future world, that spoke of events that would not happen for years to come-was as nothing next to a living, breathing prince of the church directing that he read the future course of his life.
Richelieu took pity on him. "You will have heard, perhaps, that I made a number of promotions rather earlier than"-he took in the cabinet with a languid wave-"these texts say that I would have done?"
"And when last we met you offered then that I might come into-" Again, the sudden drying of the mouth. This time, the words came after only a slight fumble "-your confidence?"
Mazarini wondered that the cardinal did not hear the thunder of his heart. It was like holding the perfect hand at cards, hoping against hope that the betting could be run up to higher and higher levels without-but Richelieu was nodding, slow and liquid, dreamlike, as if under water.
"Confidence," mused the cardinal. "As good a word as any. Knowing what you would do, what you are capable of. I saw some of it at Lyon-I greeted you thinking you came to spy, not to treat, convinced you adhered wholly to my king's enemies.
Excerpted from 1634-The Galileo Affair by Eric Flint Andrew Dennis Excerpted by permission.
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Posted February 23, 2009
First of all, DON'T START BY READING THIS BOOK! Find "1632" and read IT so you know the premise of the series. And then get every book and read them all.
The history is excellent---it is likely that even history buffs are going to learn a few things. The science, too, is top-notch, which probably is not surprising. The total surprise, though, is that the coverage of religion is also excellent. The authors have gone out of their way to give accurate, fair, and unbiased representations of the different ways that religion played its major role in history...and this is rarely the case in science fiction/fantasy/alternate history.
Great characters, funny lines, strong story. Highly recommended!
Posted May 21, 2006
Too much mundane items covered here without any connection to the previous books. Good but just not what was expected....You will have to wait until two other books are published to continue where the previous ones left off. The Baltic War and Escape from the Tower.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 25, 2004
Two forces are at work in 1633-1634 Europe as the Thirty Year War devastates much of the continent. In Germany, the twentieth century West Virginia transplants forge the United States of Europe based on the principle of democracy. On the other extreme resides powerful Cardinal Richelieu who wishes to dominate a European theocracy. He knows that this ¿Grantville¿ is a threat to his ambitions especially those alliances with Sweden and the Ottomans....................................... Pope Urban VIII welcomes the displaced Americans who come to Venice to stop the plague from spreading and to offer an alliance with His Holiness. Urban sees this group as a potential counterpoint to the growing influence of Richelieu and considers that odd thinking Roman Catholic priest amongst them could defend Galileo at his upcoming heresy trial. Though the Americans are split on whether to aid the beleaguered astronomer, Cardinal Richelieu has plans to discredit them regardless of what they intend to do............................. This alternate history series is already one of the best around and each new entry appears better than the previous one, a seemingly impossible feat. 1634: the GALILEO AFFAIR is a terrific tale that provides the audience with a combo slapstick historical techno-thriller that brings to light an intriguing era, but does it with anachronisms and humor. Galileo¿s theories are placed in a different light than that taught in school adding to the overall mercurial splendor. The ending must have come from ¿It¿s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World¿ as Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis insure nothing remains sacred within their retelling of the seventeenth century.......................... Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 12, 2004
It started out as an outstanding alternative history with '1632' (5 stars), then slipped a bit with '1633' (4 stars) but the flow of the tale continued. The '1634' sequel does not have much in common with previous two books and it could be said that it simply borrowed a few players for a tale about the Inquisition and Galileo and in order to sell the book it also got a sequential number to follow '1633'. This book escapes the 'Poor' rating simply because there were a few chapters in it that were enjoyable. The two previous books held one's attention while this one easily lets you be distracted. One can only hope that there will be an eventual return to the captivating story line that was started in the '1632' novel. If not, then it is an other good story line that went nowhere.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 27, 2004
This is the fourth in what is perhaps the best Alternative History series, trailing the cast of the first book, 1632, several years into the future. In this book, while facing foes under the direction of Cardinal Richelieu and the Habsburgs, the people from the future find they must deal with the Papacy which is undergoing a crisis. What is the crisis? Not a big one for them, but the heresy trial of one Galileo Galilei. A group of Americans from the present and past visit Venice and then Rome in an attempt to win friends. They deal with a few historical figures who are richly played, Mazzarini (who in our time line become Cardinal Mazarin), Pope Urban, and a variety of others. As usual, the plot is rich in detail, the characters interesting. Tom Stoner ('Stoner') is one of the more enjoyable characteris Flint has used and the several fun romances make this book a delight. If you like Alternative History at all, this series is for you.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 24, 2011
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Posted December 28, 2010
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