cover image 1635: A Parcel of Rogues

1635: A Parcel of Rogues

Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis. Baen, $26 (400p) ISBN 978-1-4767-8109-9

The 20th entry in Flint’s Ring of Fire alternate history series is, unfortunately, rather dull for much of its length. The novel has a promising start, with Oliver Cromwell and his party having just escaped from the Tower; they’re now rowing up the Thames. Accompanying Cromwell are several soldiers of the period, including stalwart warrior Alex Mackay, as well as three Americans from the year 2000 who have been transported back in time and made their home in 17th-century England. The Earl of Cork, King Charles Stuart’s chief counselor, sends his man William Finnegan in pursuit of Cromwell. After brief skirmishes near Ely, the chase ends in Edinburgh, with Finnegan and his men watching the Mackay house, and here the narrative drive stalls. Political and religious maneuvering takes center stage for the bulk of the work, and it’s detailed enough that readers may wish for charts, graphs, and biographies to keep everything straight. A final burst of action gives the book a strong finish, but little is resolved in this extended chapter of a very long story. (Jan.)