REVIEW: 1632 by Eric Flint

1632 - Eric Flint

While strictly speaking not fantasy, I picked this up on a recommendation. The premise is straightforward, a modern age US town is transported through space time to 1632. Smack in the middle of Germany and the Hundred Year War that tore up Europe at that time. The fantasy part ends at this point.


The POV jumps around between 'natives' and the new arrivals. The first part of the book deals with their sudden arrival from both sides, and it goes about how you expect it. There is confusion, some fights of pike and matchlock guns versus modern firearms and it goes from there.


The natives' thought patterns are also far too modern and completely indistinct from the modern age people. It's not that I don't believe that you could teach a seventeenth century peasant on how to drive a car; it's how they reason inside their heads towards that end that is just jarring. A peasant with zero schooling, no knowledge of the scientific method, and the overbearing burden of religion would not think like that. I feel that not exploring that more is a missed opportunity.


Another annoyance is that everything moves along far too smoothly. The plot keeps pulling rabbits out of its hat, that grant the town ever increasing advantages by sheer coincidence.

In fact, it's so smooth that the author avoided a trope that I dreaded. In most stories, whenever a small group gets stranded there's always, an antagonist within the group that is against common sense and tries to derail everything. This trope is tiresome, because the reasoning the antagonist uses is stupid (as well in this case). Luckily, in this case, the antagonist is shut down instantly and never gets his foot down again, which I found refreshing. But as I said, as the entire plot streamlines problems like that away it's a fortunate side-effect, rather than a deliberate choice.


Everyone seems to be hooking up in no-time as well. The first babies already on their way by the end of the book. I feel there could have been more done with the romantic relations between natives and new arrivals. Now it just looks like the author picked a few characters he felt should hook up and then they did. Add the clear USA! USA! USA! vibe the main characters display and you realize that the book is little more than a soap opera. This was made clear enough when I found myself skimming through most of the end of the book because I couldn't care less about most of the characters.


Final verdict:

On the one hand, I do sort of want to know what happens in the next book, but on the other hand, it's going to be more skimming most likely. So ultimately a waste of time for me. That said, if you enjoy historical fiction and don't mind the USA oriented slant, you'll like this.