This week I decided to review 1635: A Parcel of Rogues by Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis.
In the 163X series the town of Grantville, West Virginia was displaced from the year 2000 to Germany in the 1630s. The townspeople allied with Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus. This leads to the creation of the United States of Europe and advances in science and technology based on the knowledge from Grantville's libraries.
King Charles I of England learns of the rebellion loyal to Parliament that overthrew him in the timeline Grantville came from and, in response, he dissolves Parliament and retaliates against a number of the rebellion's leaders, arresting some of them such as Oliver Cromwell for actions they haven't committed yet. King Charles also orders the arrest of the diplomatic mission sent to England by the USE.
The book begins shortly after USE agents attack the Tower of London liberating Cromwell and the diplomats. A small party including Cromwell, American sniper Julie Simms, her Scottish husband Alex Mackay and American Danial McCarthy set out to find Cromwell's surviving children, his wife and one son having been killed during the raid that arrested him. They are pursued by a band of Irish agents of the Earl of Cork led by a man named Finnegan who hopes to use the remaining Cromwell children as hostages. Finnegan gets ahead of Cromwell's party but when the many of the locals from the area Cromwell called home attack Finnegan's party with slings, Finnegan retaliates against the family occupying what had been Cromwell's farm. Cromwell' party manages to locate the Cromwell children before moving to Scotland, where the Mackay family has a great deal of influence, with plans for Cromwell to rest there before returning to England to raise a rebellion against an increasingly tyrannical king.
Finnegan recognizes Alex Mackay during a skirmish launched to divert attention away from the escape of the kids and has him arrested soon after he returns home. Knowing he doesn't have enough evidence for a conviction, Finnegan stalls the trial, hoping to force Alex's allies to act rashly. Finnegan eventually believes he has discovered a pattern indicating when Cromwell is visiting the Mackay manor and plans an assault with every weapon he can bring to bare. But other factions know of his plans and plot to use his attack to further their own agendas, while in the background, plans for a Scotland independent of England, backed by control of offshore oil reserves now valuable and located well before their original time are being laid.
I give the book 9 out of 10. It is a great adventure story with an variety of combat and political scenes along with some personal struggles among characters, many stemming from Americans of Irish descent being unsure of how to react to the Cromwell family due to Oliver Cromwell's actions in their native history. It also does a good job of providing enough details on what has happened leading up to this point to allow someone who has never read any of the previous books, like myself, to understand what is happening. I wish some of the political side scenes were longer and more detailed, though. And on a side note, I find it odd that the book is called 1635: A Parcel of Rogues when the entire story except for the epilogue takes place in 1634.