1636: The Vatican Sanction

1636: The Vatican Sanction

Book #24 in the multiple New York Times best-selling Ring of Fire series. SEVEN DAYS IN MAY, 1636 It’s spring in Burgundy. The flowers are out and so are the cardinals—of Pope Urban’s renegade papacy, now on the run from the Vatican’s would-be usurper Borja. Most of the Church’s senior leaders have converged upon the city of Besancon, where the Pope plans to offer an ecume...

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Title:1636: The Vatican Sanction
Author:Eric Flint
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1636: The Vatican Sanction Reviews

  • Margaret

    The 1632 alternate history series also contains some "series-within-the-series" or "continuing storyline threads" such as the Pope Urban VIII thread, first seen in 1634: The Galileo Affair (2004). This first book was then followed by 1635: The Cannon Law (2006), 1635: The Papal Stakes (2012), and then 1636: The Cardinal Virtues (2015).

    When the good citizens of Grantville suddenly found their small West Virginia town transposed from the year 2000 to the year 1631 AND to the middle of Europe duri

    The 1632 alternate history series also contains some "series-within-the-series" or "continuing storyline threads" such as the Pope Urban VIII thread, first seen in 1634: The Galileo Affair (2004). This first book was then followed by 1635: The Cannon Law (2006), 1635: The Papal Stakes (2012), and then 1636: The Cardinal Virtues (2015).

    When the good citizens of Grantville suddenly found their small West Virginia town transposed from the year 2000 to the year 1631 AND to the middle of Europe during the Thirty Years' War no less, it was sink or swim time. Grantville concluded by 1634 that it needed its own diplomatic relations with the Vatican if it was to have any chance of survival in its new world full of both Catholic and Protestant warring powers.

    So, by the beginning of book five 1636: The Vatican Sanction the principal characters (Sharon Nichols, ambassador to the Vatican, her husband Ruy Sanchez, Grantville's only Catholic parish-priest-turned-cardinal Larry Mazzare, etc.) are old friends and I was much looking forward to their further adventures.

    Another thing I enjoy about this series is that each 1632 book has a handful of "uptimer" characters (who traveled back in time from West Virginia) and "downtimer" characters born in the Germanies, Spain, France, etc. etc. In fact, Sharon's downtimer husband Ruy is one of my most favorite character of the whole series with his extremely inventive & flamboyant way of constantly praising his wife while at the same time being the able former soldier & current head of security for Pope Urban VIII.

    Yet another thing I enjoy about the 1632 series is the judicious use of POV. Of course, we get the Point Of View of the "good guys" (Sharon Nichols and her team) but we ALSO get the POV of her various enemies. Sometimes Sharon's Grantville team wins and sometimes their opponents win. Just like real life. You do the best you can and hope you win often enough to survive.

    A large part of the fun, then, of the 1632 series is following the various intertwined political/religious/mercenary intrigues unfolding as various players make their moves.

    Yes, you can read 1636: The Vatican Sanction if you had never read any of the earlier 1632 series books but you will enjoy it all the more if you had read the earlier four books in this particular papal thread!

  • Daniel Shellenbarger

    1636: The Vatican Sanction seems to be the final volume in the Italian Arc of Ring of Fire novels. That series of stories, which started with 1634: The Galileo Conspiracy has focused on the up-timers interactions with the Papacy (in the form of Urban VII) and their efforts to push for moderation in the Roman Catholic church's policies towards outsiders, hoping to eliminate the religious underpinnings that fueled the 30 Years War. While the up-timers have been fairly successful in influencing the

    1636: The Vatican Sanction seems to be the final volume in the Italian Arc of Ring of Fire novels. That series of stories, which started with 1634: The Galileo Conspiracy has focused on the up-timers interactions with the Papacy (in the form of Urban VII) and their efforts to push for moderation in the Roman Catholic church's policies towards outsiders, hoping to eliminate the religious underpinnings that fueled the 30 Years War. While the up-timers have been fairly successful in influencing the Pope, their efforts have been undermined somewhat by the fact that the unscrupulous Cardinal Borja has used tentative Spanish support to unseat the Pope and assassinate many of his closest supporters among the Cardinals. Now the Pope is in exile in Burgundy, where he has called for a meeting of the leading Christian theologians in hopes of providing a foundation for a normalization of relations between Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox, a move which has particular importance due to the impending Ottoman invasion of Central Europe, which only a United Europe can hope to defeat. Despite being increasingly on the outs with his Spanish benefactors due to his extreme tactics, Borja is determined to see the Pope dead in hopes of claiming the Papal throne for himself, and in pursuit of that goal he has dispatched a large number of assassins with a clever scheme to see Urban dead.

    I was a bit hesitant going into this book. Partly because recent RoF side-stories have been rather open-ended and have shied away from important plot developments and partly because reviews of the ARC copies were far from positive. Fortunately, I found the story fairly interesting. The story is well-told, restrains itself to a reasonable number of POV's, and brings this arc to a place where I don't really see the need for further novels and I wouldn't be surprised if the follow-on events to this story showed up in the main series books or were tied into other side arc novels (possibly the Mediterranean theater of the Ottoman War). I will say that as far as big historic events, this one isn't the most significant story in the series, as there's basically only two noteworthy events: the ecumenical meeting and an event near the end of the book that I won't spoil (which, because of the timeline of other books, the authors had to find a clever reason why no one's mentioned it before). Likewise, outside of the events relating to the assassination attempts, there's a lot of theology and church politics which some people may find dull (I didn't, but I expect I'm in the minority on that). On the other hand, the focus of the story is a cat-and-mouse battle between a mixed group of highly capable assassins and a guard unit made up of some of the USE's finest and led by a handful of series favorites. It's not quite Tom Clancy, but it's a tense and interesting story and I tore through it quite eagerly. All in all, I feel like The Vatican Sanction is an interesting (if not essential) addition to the series.

  • Roy

    What I have liked about the Ring of Fire stories is how the most important thing that the people sent back in time have are new ideas. The ideas of freedom, especially religious freedom, is an odd fit in the midst of the 30-year war. And I've been impressed that, once started into a best-selling series, Flint has not shied away from what a challenge it would be for the actual religious leaders. This entry takes that to a natural conclusion, as those who have become ecumenically minded explore ho

    What I have liked about the Ring of Fire stories is how the most important thing that the people sent back in time have are new ideas. The ideas of freedom, especially religious freedom, is an odd fit in the midst of the 30-year war. And I've been impressed that, once started into a best-selling series, Flint has not shied away from what a challenge it would be for the actual religious leaders. This entry takes that to a natural conclusion, as those who have become ecumenically minded explore how to live with one another in a spirit of Christian charity, and the ones who reject these ideas try to kill them. I like how Flint has chosen to take the Church issues seriously, and to do so in a way that bypasses "how many divisions does the pope have?" (Another nice thing about this series, in part because Flint invited others to work with him building out this new history, is how there is room to see impacts on music, art, politics, and engineering ... but Flint, I note, has written the theologically driven ones.) The plot leads me to wonder if this will be the last front-and-center religious novel in the series, but if so he's made a trilogy of really fun books.

  • Stan Morris

    Not bad, but not particularly good. I'm being a little generous. The first two thirds had some things described in maddening detail, but the last third was good.

  • Redsteve

    1636: The Vatican Sanction is the latest (at least, as I type this) installment in the “South European thread” in Eric Flint’s “shared universe” Ring of Fire series, preceded by 1634: The Galileo Affair (April 2004) with Andrew Dennis, 1635: The Cannon Law (September 2006), 1635: The Papal Stakes (October 2012) with Charles E. Gannon. I'm assuming that I don't need to warn potential readers not to start the series on Book #24, but, on the other hand, it's not vital that you read ALL of the previ

    1636: The Vatican Sanction is the latest (at least, as I type this) installment in the “South European thread” in Eric Flint’s “shared universe” Ring of Fire series, preceded by 1634: The Galileo Affair (April 2004) with Andrew Dennis, 1635: The Cannon Law (September 2006), 1635: The Papal Stakes (October 2012) with Charles E. Gannon. I'm assuming that I don't need to warn potential readers not to start the series on Book #24, but, on the other hand, it's not vital that you read ALL of the previous books (at the very least 1632, 1633 and the previous books in the thread - listed above). If you aren't familiar with general events of the series, you're going to be confused and frustrated by this novel. Having dispensed with the warning, I very much enjoyed this book, but it might not be everyone's chalice of sacramental wine. The novel consists of about 2/3 assassination plot/spycraft story and 1/3 of people debating theology and 17th Century church politics (which, if like me, you find this interesting; if not, you could probably skim over that and focus on the exciting stuff), leavened, as always, with a bit of 20th Century technology adapted for the 17th. Like a number of the later RoF books, The Vatican Sanction has relatively few "up-timers" in roles, basically just Sharon Nicholls, USE ambassador to the Papacy, and Larry Mazzare, Cardinal-Protector of the USE.

  • Dan

    I started reading the eARC of 1636 The Vatican Sanction 40 days ago, with a 1.5 day break to enjoy the Liaden series "Neogenesis" eARC. There was little in this book to grab and maintain my interest, unfortunately. Some days I had to force myself to read a single chapter. :/ I hope the next book in this great series is better.

  • Charlie Moses

    So many of these characters I really enjoyed in other books - the ambassadress and her husband, the wild Irish mercenaries, the pope and his companions. To my surprise, actually. The writers of their last adventure together actually drew me through a complex logical and religions explanation of Catholic belief, which I would never have expected anyone could make me read with interest. I hoped this book would continue the story, which it does, but it sadly failed to keep my interest. Rather than

    So many of these characters I really enjoyed in other books - the ambassadress and her husband, the wild Irish mercenaries, the pope and his companions. To my surprise, actually. The writers of their last adventure together actually drew me through a complex logical and religions explanation of Catholic belief, which I would never have expected anyone could make me read with interest. I hoped this book would continue the story, which it does, but it sadly failed to keep my interest. Rather than simply devouring the book in a continuous progress, I began to skip around to see what was happening farther along, then reading some of the ending. And maybe the ending was realistic, but the story just couldn't hold my interest sufficiently for me to actually read every word of the book. So the read date below isn't the date I finished the book, but the day I gave up and just put it aside.

  • Helen

    The pope is Urban VIII, but a Barberini who has transformed into a more human man than he was before. The loyalist cardinals have convened in Besancon along with Protestant, Orthodox, and Jewish representatives to discuss a more civilised relationship among the faiths, especially with the oncoming threat of the Turks. We're still dealing with Borja, who is in Rome trying to seize the papal throne.

    The problem with this series is that at some point the path of history has to become markedly diffe

    The pope is Urban VIII, but a Barberini who has transformed into a more human man than he was before. The loyalist cardinals have convened in Besancon along with Protestant, Orthodox, and Jewish representatives to discuss a more civilised relationship among the faiths, especially with the oncoming threat of the Turks. We're still dealing with Borja, who is in Rome trying to seize the papal throne.

    The problem with this series is that at some point the path of history has to become markedly different from what we have experienced it and the authors are going to have to decide which way things are going to go. We're in the mid thirties so the English rebellion is coming closer and how are they going to decide about that? France is a big factor and that is going to have to be considered.

    And talk! These people could talk the hind leg off a donkey. They explain things to each other, they explain them again, then they explain them to a different group. The plotting certainly fits in the time period and the uptimers have fitted into that world. (I find that phrase upside down, but I imagine it depends on how you see the passage of time.) The use of radio as telegraph transmitter is interesting but it forces the downtimers to learn to think at a 20th century tempo, and I think it's beginning to affect what happens. The airships are a little problematic, too, because it does the same thing to European thinking; speeds it up and changes the decision making process. Watching films as an entertaining diversion from tension is probably not so good, either.

    At least the authors realised that there would be copies of any uptime objects seen as advantageous and any weapon would be seen that way.

    It's easiest to just go with the flow and not try to assess the likelihood of things. The American mindset is a little less present, which makes it a bit easier to take, but we still get chunks of uptime American history, which would scramble 17th century minds to a serious extent.

  • MAB  LongBeach

    Another entry in the long-running 1632/Ring of Fire series. Pope Urban has had a change of heart and is heading both an Ecumenical Colloquy and a Council of Cardinals to reform the Church, running more or less simultaneously. Unfortunately, he is also being hunted by assassins, which further complicates an already complicated situation.

    There are a lot of characters to keep straight, including at least four groups of would-be assassins, some of them with hidden agendas. It can get a bit confusing

    Another entry in the long-running 1632/Ring of Fire series. Pope Urban has had a change of heart and is heading both an Ecumenical Colloquy and a Council of Cardinals to reform the Church, running more or less simultaneously. Unfortunately, he is also being hunted by assassins, which further complicates an already complicated situation.

    There are a lot of characters to keep straight, including at least four groups of would-be assassins, some of them with hidden agendas. It can get a bit confusing at times. Fans of the series will want to read this, but it is not one of the stronger works.

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