Saturday, December 10, 2011

Book Review: “1634: The Ram Rebellion”

This book is somewhere between a novel and an anthology. It began as groups of stories that could have gone into the Grantsville Gazette. However, Eric Flint saw that these stories could be pulled together to form something like a novel. This story is focused on the question of how the individuals, both uptimers and downtimers, would deal with the problems the Ring of Fire created.

It is divided into four sections. The first is a pair of stories by Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlet with bridge chapters by Eric Flint. It shows uptimer farmers integrating with downtime German farmers. The second section is from a collection of different authors and shows how the “Ram” story develops. The third section is a collection of stories, mostly by Virginia DeMarce, that shows how the Ram Rebellion comes into being along with the opening moves. The final section is a novella by Eric Flint and Virginia DeMarce that deals with the full blown peasant farmer revolt in Franconia against the local petty lords.

As a book it is probably best understood as an anthology and, like the Grantsville Gazette, it is not a good entry point into the history. Having said that, this is a good book for someone who has already read and enjoyed “1632” and “1633” at least. Moving forward events described in this book are obliquely mentioned in later books, like “1634: The Bavarian Crisis”.

Friday, December 9, 2011

“Dragonsdawn” by Anne McCaffrey

This is the origin story of the Pernese colony and the Dragonriders of Pern. Naturally it begins with the colony ships arriving at Pern. It shows the colony leaders, Admiral Paul Benden and Governor Emily Boll, leading the colonists in their initial exploration and settling in. Tensions are shown, Averil Bitra schemes, and fire lizards are discovered and impressed.

Then Thread falls for the first time. Admiral Benden and Governor Boll are recalled from their stakes to lead the colony in this crisis. The volcano at the main city, Landing, starts to smoke, they put tremendous strain on their resources, Averil Bitra steals the admiral’s gig and gets herself killed, the first dragons are created by Kit Ping Yung and impress the first riders, and Fort hold is founded.

The book ends with a swift reversal the beleaguered colonists are out of power for the flying sleds when the dragons arrive to defend Fort.

Overall this is a good story. There are clearly drawn characters and problems. However it is not the best introduction to the series. There are quite a few references that only make sense if you’ve read the first couple books Anne McCaffrey published in this setting.