1632 by Eric Flint

1632 - Eric Flint

It's been a while since I've read a book that I've enjoyed this much, it's told in a third-person point of view with many different story lines running at same times.  The first and most prominent of which follows Mike Streans, a mine worker and president of the mine workers union from West Virginia.  He's attending his sister's wedding when there's a flash of light and all the power goes out.  When Mike goes outside to check on things everything looks normal until he spots smoke rising in the distance.  So of course being the hillbillies that they are, Mike and a bunch of his friends all grab their guns and go out to investigate.  They end up finding is a small group of 17th century German soldiers raiding a peasant farm, they intervene and so starts an adventure where a small town from 21st century West Virginia is thrust into the middle of the 13 years wars in 17th century Germany.


While I found the author's writing style slightly hard to read, it did not detract from the story any.  The characters are all very well fleshed out, as well as showing good character growth over the course of the book, which encompassed a year in their timeline.  One aspect that I usually don't like in most books it the multiple stories going on at once, but in this one I didn't mind it, enjoyed it actually.  It's probably because of the authors ability to write such engaging characters.  The beginning revolved mainly around Mike and Rebecca(his romantic interest), showing how her and her father acclimated to the way of life of the Americans. 


My favorite character has got to be Gretchen, she was introduced mid way through as a slave in one of the small raiding parties that have been roving across the countryside.  Her, and her younger brother and sister were taken as slaves 4 years before when her village was raided and her parents were killed. Because of her great beauty she was able to help protect her younger siblings by becoming the concubine of the party's leader, and also becomes somewhat of a surrogate mother to other children  taken as slave from other villages.  


Gretchen finds herself thrown in with the Americans when her raiding party joins up with the main army to lay siege to the America town.  The battle is virtually non-existent due to the superior firepower of the Americans.  The thing I liked best about her is her strength, while Rebecca is a strong female character in her own right she never had to endure the hardships that Gretchen did.  It shows in her later on, after she has settled into life with the Americans she sets up a spy network with some of the other prostitutes in the surrounding towns.  She becomes an integral part of the Americans military efforts, and is absolutely unforgiving when it comes to an enemy which is threatening her or her new family.  


Now for the things I disliked, there really wasn't much.  First, I felt it was really odd how non-existent the rest of Mike's family was, his sister had a little bit part in the very beginning at her wedding, and then half way through she got maybe two more lines.  Mike's mother had no scenes at all and was later explained away as being an invalid.  Now I don't know about you but even if my mother is an invalid she, and my sister, would be a major part in my life, especially in those circumstances.  I just think he should have had more interaction with his family, I know the second book has his sister being held captive in another country so maybe she'll be featured a little more in that one.


The second thing that sort of bothered me was how the author went into overview mode at around 70% and lasted until around 83%, it was almost like he was trying to fill space until the ending, which by the way was really good.


On a whole this was really a great book, it does a good job showing the different issues caused by the differences between our 21st century society and their 17th century society.  Things that were thought acceptable back then are now thought to be heinous crimes.  


One thing to note though, I am not very knowledgeable about that time in the worlds history, so I'm really not sure how historical accurate some of the events taking place in this book are.