So, I just finished reading 1632 by Eric Flint last night (from the finalists list). This was a book I saw on the shelves when it came out but I passed it by for several reasons, including:
- I’ve never been a fan of alternate history
- The idea of knights mixed with pickup trucks seemed ridiculous
- And I just didn’t think I would like the book
But I couldn’t have been more wrong!
This book was very fun to read. The characters were engaging and I cared what happened to them. The fact that it was set in 1632 was an interesting historical backdrop, and I wanted to learn more about the 30-years war. For example, I didn’t realize that Cardinal Richelieu was a real person. I just thought of him as the villain in “The Three Musketeers” (yes, the Errol Flynn version, I haven’t read the book).
The stated goals of the people transported to 1632 Germany were ones I could completely get behind. They seemed like people I would enjoy having as my neighbors. I loved that they decided immediately to draft a constitution and that they did not immediately wall themselves off from the rest of the world. I’m not confident that is what would really happen, but it’s nice to think that it could.
Some of the things I didn’t like:
- many flat characters
There was the aging hippie—she was the most developed of the flat background characters, but still had very little to her personality beyond being a liberal.
There were the “evil CEO” and his (non-existant) wife—these characters were introduced almost immediately and then had nearly no part in the story
And several others
- weak premise
This was introduced as SciFi, and there was a whole reason given in the prolog about how they ended up in 1632, but it was really flimsy. I would have preferred if it were left out completely, and we just followed the main characters on their journey.
- I struggled with the politics
I just had trouble with the idea that there was only one liberal in the entire town of 3,000 people. I can totally believe there are liberals who use guns—I had no problem with that. But it seemed odd to me that everyone always excoriated the “aging former hippie” and there was no one who took her side. Really?
But beyond that, this was a fun book. I stayed up until after midnight to finish it. And I’m going to start looking for the next books in the series. I don’t know why I was reluctant before. I’ve read other books by Eric Flint and enjoyed them a lot. I guess it’s true that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Next book to read will be 1984 by George Orwell. Or maybe Anathem by Neal Stephenson.