Thursday, December 28, 2006

1635: The Cannon Law by Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis

It is always difficult to pigeon hole the genre of these types of works. Is it fiction, science fiction or an alternate history? Since the opening volume, 1632, I would say the answer to the question is all three. How is that for a definitive answer?

1635: The Cannon Law continues the saga of the Grantsville Americans thrown back in time by the Ring of Fire. For those who are students of history, this series and this book in particular are entertaining reads. Just imagine trying to overlay a modern American value system across Europe during the Spanish Inquisition. As one might assume, there are a variety of conflicts as our 20th/ 21st century heroes try to enact reforms several centuries before their time. While Pope Urban VIII sees value in some of the American's views, the nemesis, Spanish inquisitor, Cardinal Borja views the Pope as weak and unfit in light of Spain's supremacy in the world.

The Cardinal begins to ferment trouble throughout Rome with a number of paid malcontents sent out to create discontent in the Roman populace through a variety of rabble rousing endeavors. Of course the American embassy in Rome is a target of the Cardinal's plots as is the fledgling Committee of Correspondence run by Frank Stone and his Italian wife Giovanna. As the ambassador to Rome from the United States of Europe, Sharon Nichols must make some difficult decisions and play a few political games of her own to try and offset the Cardinal's plans. Her fiance, the strong, humorous and often deadly Castilian Ruy Sanchez supports the entire American entourage in Rome with his political and military savvy.

Ultimately Cardinal Borja attempts the military conquest of Rome, providing considerable concern for his Spanish monarch but endless possibilities for the political realist among the King's men. The work builds to an interesting end and to an intriguing continuation of the series as the "uptime" Americans continue in their efforts to thwart the Spanish Inquisition.

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