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This is the ninth book in a series in which a small American town is sent back from around the turn of the millennium to Germany in the middle of the thirty years war. The books in this series are identified with titles which are, or begin with, the 17th century year in which each book starts (e.g. 1632, 1633, etc) and it is variously known as the "Ring of Fire" or "Assiti Shards" series.

(The "Ring of Fire" is how the inhabitants of Grantville described the event which brought their town back 370 years in time and a few thousand miles in space. The Assiti were the extraterrestial race whose thoughtless actions, described in the first book as akin to "criminal negligence," caused that event, though no human ever realises this.)

The books in this series differ very greatly in their style and focus, and I gather I am not the only reader who liked some of them very much more than others. The five which I did enjoy and can recommend to others, which include this one, can be read in sequence to give you an overall view of the history of the very different seventeenth century which Grantville's arrival in Germany in 1632 creates in the stories.

The five books which I personally recommend in this series to date are the ones which Eric Flint himself, in the afterword to "The Saxon Uprising" describes as the main line or spinal cord of the series. They are:

1632 (Ring of Fire)
1634: The Baltic War
This book, "1635: The Eastern Front"
1636 : The Saxon Uprising (Ring of Fire)

The complete list of novels in the series to date is:

1) 1632
2) 1633
3) 1634: The Galileo Affair
4) 1634: The Baltic War
5) 1634: The Bavarian Crisis
6) 1634: The Ram rebellion
7) 1635: The Dreeson Incident
8) 1635 The Cannon Law
9) 1635: The Eastern Front
10) 1636: The Saxon uprising

I've counted "The Ram rebellion" in this list: Eric Flint himself describes it as "an oddball volume which has some of the characteristics of an anthology and some of the characteristics of a novel."

There are also a number of short story/novella collections set in this alternative 17th century including "Ring of Fire," "1635: The Tangled Web" and several volumes in the "Grantville Gazette" series. Flint has also written a book called Time Spike, in which a second similar event hits the 21st century world which Grantville has left behind a few years later and pulls a maximum-security prison into another time. That book is sometimes listed as part of the "Ring of Fire" series, which is not entirely unreasonable because the people who are investigating that disappearance immediately recognise it as a similar event to whatever caused the disappearance from modern times of Grantville. However, "Time Spike" does not impinge on Grantville's 17th century.

"1635: The Eastern Front" is set four years after the arrival of Grantville in 17th century Germany, at a point when the inhabitants of Grantville have founded a new and reasonably democratic "United States of Europe" covering most of modern Germany with the aid of an alliance with with the Swedish King, Gustavus Adolphus. At first it appears that they have defeated all their enemies and reshaped Europe.

Unfortunately part of the price of democracy is that sometimes the majority of other people vote for someone other than the person you want. At the start of this book, thinking themselves safe and able to go back to the comfortably familiar, the electorate of the USE have voted out the Grantville leader, Mike Stearns, as Prime Minister of the USE and replaced him with a moderate aristocrat, William Wettin.

Gustavus Adolphus decides he didn't want to lose Mike Stearns' talents, so he appoints Mike a general and places him in charge of a division of troops for his forthcoming invasion of Poland.

Wettin's election did not appear too big a disaster at first. He is moderate, reasonably competent, and appeared to be a fairly safe pair of hands (or he would not have been elected in the first place.) But with the King and Mike Stearns out of the way during the campaign in Poland, some dangerously reactionary forces begin to gather around Wettin. If anything happens to the King during one of the battles in Poland, there could be trouble ...

Meanwhile Mike Stearns, whose previous experience of combat was in another century and at a much more junior level, has to learn very quickly the skills required of a general in 17th century warfare ...

I did enjoy this book, which has some good humour and some clever ideas. The quality of the historical reseach and imagination in this series is extremely patchy, excellent in places and rather poor in others. Earlier books in the series made out Charles I of England, who admittedly wasn't the most brilliant man who ever lived, out to be a far bigger idiot than he ever was in life, which combined with an equally simplistic positive view of Oliver Cromwell as almost to make me wonder whether the author took his view of early 17th century British history from some one-sided children's book such as "Oliver Cromwell (An Adventure From History A Ladybird Book, Series 561)".

"The Eastern Front" presents an interesting and, to the best of my knowledge accurate, picture of the politics of early 17th century Europe in general, and Sweden and Poland in particular. This book and the other four I have recommended are also good fun.

If you enjoy this story of a modern community sent back many years in time, you might also enjoy S.M. Stirling's Nantucket trilogy in which that island is sent much further back by a similar event. The Nantucket trilogy consists of:

Island in the Sea of Time
Against the Tide of Years (Nantucket)
On the Oceans of Eternity (Nantucket).
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on 8 November 2010
I am a fan of 1632 and Mr Flint's work in general. I think that you can tell when an author is enjoying what he's doing the original 1632 being a case in point. The Eastern Front has the difficult task of moving the players to their positions for the next 'act'. As such I think that the author found this to be more work than enjoyment. for a reader of the series this is an 'essential' read. It is just unfortunate that the by the last page our heroes have done little and lost much. If any one of the various strands had ended upbeat then this book would be five stars instead of three.
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on 13 January 2016
Flint's 'Ring of Fire' series offers an enjoyable romp through European history - with a twist. Being familiar with this period certainly helps, as long as one is prepared to suspend expectations of accuracy as the stories move further away from reality as the impact of the American time travellers becomes more widespread. I've just purged my bookshelves and this is one of the series I replaced with Kindle versions as I reread them about once a year - speed reading is expensive. My favourites remain 1632 and 1633 but his introduction of subsequent characters' storylines works well. I'm just about to read 'Parcel of Rogues', the latest, and am wondering how Darryl's and Oliver Cromwell's story will develop.
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on 19 October 2010
At last the saga is back on track. This book brings the 16XX story forward I will not spoil the your enjoyment by retelling the story, but the end makes you wish that the next book was availble now. The reason i have not given it 5 stars is two. The maps when a place is mentioned i expect to be able to find it on a map, the more so since there is 3 of them. Example: the first three words in the novel is "the upper vogtland". But that aera is not to be found. Better luck next time. Also, in the begining of the novel i felt that readin was getting hard as it was not mr. Flint writing. That soon disapeard and it was "pure flint".
if you liked 1632,1633,the baltic war buy this book as quick as you can !
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on 26 June 2015
Great, really enjoying it :-)
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