1635: The Papal Stakes
by Eric Flint and Charles E. Gannon
Publisher: Baen Books
I have enjoyed reading the novels from the 1632 Ring of Fire series. It is kind of a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur Court series, but set in the turbulent time of the 30 Years War. A West Virginia town is plunged into the middle of the 30 years war. They have to adapt to the times, but more importantly, the times have to adapt to them. It is a time with traditions that tend toward the medieval, but is transitioning to the modern world with the Americas, Printing Press, Reformation. I’ve been listening to a set of tapes on the Late Middle Ages, where the lecturer concludes that the “Modern” Period has only just begun, in the late 19th early 20th century. This appears to be short sighted. My inclination is to place the beginning of the modern period much earlier than that, before the “Glorious Revolution”, and perhaps exactly at the time of the 30 Years War.
It seems like I’ve been waiting a long time for this book [Nearly 6 yrs?]. Papal Stakes continues where Cannon Law left off, covering May-August of 1635 in Italy. It continues from the Pope’s escape from siege, and Frank and Giovanna Stones’ imprisonment. It has two slightly connected story lines, the protection and defense of the Pope, and the rescue of Frank and Giovanna.
The story features the return of Sharon Nichols and Ruy Sanchez de Ortiz y Casador, Frank and Giovanna Stone are also Principle Character’s. Their guard, Vincent Jose-Maria de Castro y Papas, becomes a major character. The “Wrecking Crew” returns as is foreshadowed at the end of Cannon Law. New characters include the diabolical Pedro Dolor, who acts as the servant, or handler, of the overly ambitious Cardinal, Gaspar de Borja y Velasco. The Jewish intelligence agent, Estuban Miro, takes on an important commanding role. He also introduces a new technology, commercial hot air balloons [Yea, Balloons!].
I question the evolution of violence in church politics that is used to develop the story. There is precedent for a Papal Schism (1378-1417). And the violence is consistent with the times (perhaps all times), but I am not aware of murder and assassination playing a role in historical Papal succession.
That said, The story is moves along and is exciting, entrapping. I thoroughly enjoyed the volume and will continue to follow the series.
© 2013 David B. Snyder
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