1636: The Cardinal Virtues
Eric Flint and Walter H Hunt
Baen, Jul 7 2015, $26.00
In the summer of 1635 in Paris, King Louis still waits for a child he and his French subjects can call heir, but in spite of two decades of an alliance marriage to the daughter of Spain's King Philip III, Queen Aña Maria Mauricia, no baby has been born. The monarch in waiting remains his brother Gaston d’Orleans.
Cardinal Richelieu deploys a scheme to allow him to maintain his position of power. His efforts succeed in impregnating her royal highness. To keep the Queen safe, Richelieu hides her from those Frenchmen like d’Orleans and foreign governments who prefer the current ruler goes to his grave without siring the next king. As a civil war seems imminent in divided France, outside interests take sides.
The nineteenth Ring of Fire alternate history focuses on France, which has been a major but never prime locale in the long running saga. The cast is solid though overwhelmingly abundant even with the Grantville crowd limited; while readers learn more about recurring characters like Richelieu and d’Orleans. The storyline contains plenty of escapades and for the most part moves quickly forward; but never climaxes as The Cardinal Virtues is the appetizer for at least the next entry.