1632 series reading order

Recommended reading order for the 1632 series
(aka the Ring of Fire series)

Updated by: Eric Flint
September 8, 2012

Whenever someone asks me “what’s the right order?” for reading the 1632 series, I’m always tempted to respond: “I have no idea. What’s the right order for studying the Thirty Years War? If you find it, apply that same method to the 1632 series.”

However, that would be a bit churlish — and when it comes down to it, authors depend upon the goodwill of their readers. So, as best I can, here goes.

The first book in the series, obviously, is 1632. That is the foundation novel for the entire series and the only one whose place in the sequence is definitely fixed.

Thereafter, you should read either the anthology titled Ring of Fire or the novel 1633, which I co-authored with David Weber. It really doesn’t matter that much which of these two volumes you read first, so long as you read them both before proceeding onward. That said, if I’m pinned against the wall and threatened with bodily harm, I’d recommend that you read Ring of Fire before you read 1633.

That’s because 1633 has a sequel which is so closely tied to it that the two volumes almost constitute one single huge novel. So, I suppose you’d do well to read them back to back.

That sequel is 1634: The Baltic War, which I also co-authored with David Weber. 1632, 1633, 1634: The Baltic War, 1635: The Eastern Front and this novel constitutes what can be considered the “main line” or even the spinal cord of the entire series. Why? First, because it’s in these five novels that I depict the major political and military developments which have a tremendous impact on the entire complex of stories. Secondly, because these “main line” volumes focus on certain key characters in the series — Mike Stearns and Rebecca Abrabanel, first and foremost, as well as Gretchen Richter and Jeff Higgins.

Once you’ve read 1632, Ring of Fire, 1633 and 1634: The Baltic War, you will have a firm grasp of the basic framework of the series. From there, you can go in one of two directions: either read 1634: The Ram Rebellion or 1634: The Galileo Affair.

There are advantages and disadvantages either way. 1634: The Ram Rebellion is an oddball volume, which has some of the characteristics of an anthology and some of the characteristics of a novel. It’s perhaps a more challenging book to read than the Galileo volume, but it also has the virtue of being more closely tied to the main line books. Ram Rebellion is the first of several volumes which basically run parallel with the main line volumes but on what you might call a lower level of narrative. A more positive way of putting that is that these volumes depict the changes produced by the major developments in the main line novels, as those changes are seen by people who are much closer to the ground than the statesmen and generals who figure so prominently in books like 1632, 1633, and 1634: The Baltic War.

Of course, the distinction is only approximate. There are plenty of characters in the main line novels — Thorsten Engler and Eric Krenz spring immediately to mind — who are every bit as “close to the ground” as any of the characters in 1634: The Ram Rebellion.

Whichever book you read first, I do recommend that you read both of them before you move on to 1634: The Bavarian Crisis. In a way, that’s too bad, because Bavarian Crisis is something of a direct sequel to 1634: The Baltic War. The problem with going immediately from Baltic War to Bavarian Crisis, however, is that there is a major political development portrayed at length and in great detail in 1634: The Galileo Affair which antedates the events portrayed in the Bavarian story.

Still, you could read any one of those three volumes — to remind you, these are 1634: The Ram Rebellion, 1634: The Galileo Affair and 1634: The Bavarian Crisis — in any order you choose. Just keep in mind that if you read the Bavarian book before the other two you will be getting at least one major development out of chronological sequence.

After those three books are read…

Again, it’s something of a toss-up between three more volumes: the second Ring of Fire anthology and the two novels, 1635: The Cannon Law and 1635: The Dreeson Incident. On balance, though, I’d recommend reading them in this order because you’ll get more in the way of a chronological sequence:

Ring of Fire II
1635: The Cannon Law
1635: The Dreeson Incident

The time frame involved here is by no means rigidly sequential, and there are plenty of complexities involved. To name just one, my story in the second Ring of Fire anthology, the short novel “The Austro-Hungarian Connection,” is simultaneously a sequel to Virginia’s story in the same anthology, several stories in various issues of the Gazette — as well as my short novel in the first Ring of Fire anthology, The Wallenstein Gambit.

What can I say? It’s a messy world — as is the real one. Still and all, I think the reading order recommended above is certainly as good as any and probably the best.

We come now to Virginia DeMarce’s 1635: The Tangled Web. This collection of inter-related stories runs parallel to many of the episodes in 1635: The Dreeson Incident and lays some of the basis for the stories which will be appearing in the next anthology, 1635: The Wars on the Rhine. This volume is also where the character of Tata who figures in Eastern Front and Saxon Uprising is first introduced in the series.

You should then backtrack a little and read 1635: The Papal Stakes, which is the direct sequel to 1635: The Cannon Law.

You can then go back to the “main line” of the series and read 1635: The Eastern Front and 1636: The Saxon Uprising. I strongly recommend reading them back to back. These two books were originally intended to be a single novel, which I wound up breaking in half because the story got too long. They read better in tandem.

Then, read Ring of Fire III. My story in that volume is directly connected to 1636: The Saxon Uprising and will lay some of the basis for the sequel to that novel. After that, read 1636: The Kremlin Games. That novel isn’t closely related to any other novel that has yet come out in the series, though, so you could read it almost any time after reading the first few volumes.

That leaves the various issues of the Gazette, which are really hard to fit into any precise sequence. The truth is, you can read them pretty much any time you choose.

It would be well-nigh impossible for me to provide any usable framework for the thirty-four electronic issues of the magazine, so I will restrict myself simply to the six volumes of the Gazette which have appeared in paper editions. With the caveat that there is plenty of latitude, I’d suggest reading them as follows:

Read Gazette I after you’ve read 1632 and alongside Ring of Fire. Read Gazettes II and III alongside 1633 and 1634: The Baltic War, whenever you’re in the mood for short fiction. Do the same for Gazette IV, alongside the next three books in the sequence, 1634: The Ram Rebellion, 1634: The Galileo Affair and 1634: The Bavarian Crisis. Then read Gazette V after you’ve read Ring of Fire II, since my story in Gazette V is something of a direct sequel to my story in the Ring of Fire volume. You can read Gazette V alongside 1635: The Cannon Law and 1635: The Dreeson Incident whenever you’re in the mood for short fiction. Gazette VI can be read thereafter.

And . . . that’s it, as of now. There are a lot more volumes coming.

For those of you who dote on lists, here it is. But do keep in mind, when you examine this neatly ordered sequence, that the map is not the territory.

1632
Ring of Fire
1633
1634: The Baltic War

(Somewhere along the way, after you’ve finished 1632, read the stories and articles in the first three paper edition volumes of the Gazette.)

1634: The Ram Rebellion
1634: The Galileo Affair
1634: The Bavarian Crisis

(Somewhere along the way, read the stories and articles in the fourth paper edition volume of the Gazette.)

Ring of Fire II
1635: The Cannon Law
1635: The Dreeson Incident
1635: The Tangled Web

(Somewhere along the way, read the stories in Gazette V.)

1635: The Papal Stakes
1635: The Eastern Front
1636: The Saxon Uprising
Ring of Fire III
1636: The Kremlin Games

105 Responses to 1632 series reading order

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  2. John Cromwell says:

    Will you ever publish “Escape from the Tower”?

  3. Old Reader says:

    This page is in serious need of updating! There is a confusion of titles available on Amazon that come AFTER this reading timeline.

  4. Colleen says:

    I recently began reading the Ring of Fire series and am enjoying them very much. I enjoy fiction because it transports me to interesting, fun adventures. I certainly don’t expect the story to be real…but it should at least be realistic. Which most of the Ring of Fire storylines have been, save one. And the storyline which is not believable has both confused and, to be honest, made me more than bit angry. I am speakng of the the ending of the book “1633″. If the president of the USA placed me under the rule of a King, I would rise up and ….well, I am not sure what I would do because it is so completely insane I can’t even imagin what I would do… but I promis it would be intense. Yet, in the book “1633″ Presidend Stearn does exactly that without even so much as a “Howdy do” to congress. I assumed that Mike Stearns teasonous betrayal of the up-timers and new US citizens would be addressed in a following book, but no….Mike wasn’t arrested, tried and hung for teason. Why wasn’t he? Did I miss something in a later book?

    • Jillian says:

      This angered me too, but I figured Mike acted out of necessity, to ally Grantville with someone strong enough to keep them from being wiped out. Remember, it’s like Mike said, this is America in 1781 (Articles of Confederation, ultimately a necessary but temporary measure) not America in 1789 (Constitution). So putting the New U.S. under a King is just a necessary but temporary measure. Although Gustav may not know about the temporary bit. I think the day will come when Richelieu and the other threats are defanged when Grantville, et al, will secede from Gustav’s empire and boy will Gustav be surprised! Or maybe he will convert to the American way of thinking and disclaim authority first over the New U.S. or CPE or whatever they are calling it then.

      • Ray says:

        Most people in the NUS were not up-timers, the down-timers, who made up the vast majority of the population, would be more reassured by a monarch as a figurehead rather than a nebulous “government” (which word did not even exist as a noun at the time). Also he’s not a “King” in the NUS he’s the “Captain General”, in practical terms that means he’s a war leader IN THE FIELD, not a “Commander in Chief” in the way our modern presidents are (Marion Zimmer-Bradley discusses this view of kings in The Mists of Avalon when describing the role of Celtic chieftains prior to the High Kings of England and Roman Rule). His other role is to give the other monarchs of Europe some one they will accept as a person to deal with– this is actually extremely important since most of them wouldn’t give a commoner the time of day. The up-timers were really in no position to go it alone for any length of time and the USE won’t be either, in terms of military strength, for a couple of generations. The two biggest reasons the USA in our real history was able to survive early on were in a nutshell: France and the Atlantic Ocean. France having launched its own revolution was in a position to help the US, and let’s not forget what they had to go through to achieve that: the “Reign of Terror” (something I’m sure most sane people would rather avoid), that resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocents and not just nobles; scientists such as Lavosier (one of the founders of modern Chemistry), and countless numbers of political rivals to those in a position to order the executions and lynchings. Even then France ended up with Napoleon. The USA’s Revolution was financed by a Nobleman– the Marquis de Lafayette. The US government agreed to name a town in every state after him b/c of it, and streets in most cities (think about how many Fayettevilles there are). The Atlantic Ocean also helped protect the fledgling republic. Also remember that at the time of the Ring of Fire series most republics were not in the business of protecting the interests of the plebes, rather they were oligarchies set up by the aristocracy and great merchants (this is one of the reasons the Roman Republic fell, Caesar was VERY popular with the commoners). So in the end it becomes a practical matter the USE needs Gustav, and will probably need Kristina for a time at least. After that the they will probably retire to the role of national symbols as with most modern monarchs today. They might even abdicate the throne (as Kristina did in real life, though she remained a royal). Ulrik and Kristina may even renounce their titles as a symbolic revolutionary gesture at some point, or in order to hold some other office. My great-great-grandfather did just that (noble not royal) and became a colonel in Cuba’s War of Independence, though he didn’t have to (no I’m not rich nor is my family Fidel Castro saw to that).

    • Christopher says:

      He wasn’t because the NUS was already part of the CPE at the end of 1632, which was a decision Mike Stearns did go over with the rest of the government. At the end of 1633, Stearns merely reforms the CPE into the United States of Europe as a Constitutional Monarchy, which is actually a step forward towards a true Republic as we know it. Previously, the CPE had been more in the way of a loose alliance, where now it became a true nation under command of the Vasa dynasty. The NUS still retained the stipulation that the Vasa dynasty would have limited say in the territory, and would officially be designated “Captain Generals” when in the territory.

      The rough equivalent would be much of modern Europe, where many kings and queens still rule, but have strict restrictions on what actions they can take through the constitutions of their states. If they were smart, which they are, the people of the NUS would recognize this, and go along with it to give them the ability to survive the war. They’d know, or have others among their friends who could explain to them, that constitutional monarchies like this were exactly the models that led directly to breaking the power of the monarchs and the aristocracy.

  5. Bill Lumpkin says:

    Just finished 1636: The Devil’s Opera. This is a fine work, possibly the best of the series. Though I’m not into music as such, I really enjoyed the work, and found the characters life like and very interesting. I particularly enjoyed the characters Simon and Hans. I only hope that there are many more works in this series.

  6. Nina says:

    In the info on what order to read books in There’s mention of an ‘anthology’ titled “1635 The Wars on the Rhine” – I could not find it listed on Amazon, Audible, or anywhere in my state’s library electronic or paper book catalog? It is NOT listed in the recap of reading order either, what’s up w/that? Was that a mistake or am I missing something here? Also what about 1636 Seas of Fortune by Iver Cooper? Who is that ? That author isn’t listed in library catalog or on Audible either? Why are SO MANY of the books not available on audio? Last question: When will “1636 Commander Cantrell in the West Indies” be available on Audible? Amazon says will be hard cover will released June 2014.

    • Eric Flint says:

      To reply to your questions in order:

      I decided to scrap the Wars on the Rhine anthology for various reasons which are too involved to go into here. Of the two completed stories planned for that volume, Virginia DeMarce’s “An Uneasy Kind of Peace” is being serialized in the Grantville Gazette — starting in this month’s issue — and will eventually be reissued as an e-book (also available in paper on a print-on-demand basis). Anette Pedersen’s story will come out in the Ring of Fire IV anthology — as will the story I’d planned to write for the Wars on the Rhine anthology.

      I have no control over Audible’s production schedule. I’m told that eventually they will issue all the 1632 series — at least the novels; I’m not sure about the anthologies — in audio. But I do not know when and in what order.

  7. Jean Claude says:

    I just finish reading Interlude by David Carrico (Grantville Gazette #28).

    Is it really necessary to continuously publish fundamentalist Christian PR? It is disheartening to see a philosophical discussion turned into a religious one with all Up-timers agreeing.

    Seeing that even the most fundamental ideas of Enlightenment are heavily ignored whenever Uptime characters are confronted with middle-age religious fundamentalism is incredibly sad. It makes me angry.

    I love the series but to me, as a modern Christian, it is highly annoying to repeatedly see the seemingly same few authors turning it into a tool of close minded Christian propaganda.

    Could we please consider in future discussions that not everyone living in the 20th century is a highly religious person? Could please consider three centuries of modern philosophy? Could we please recognize that modern societies are coined by their wide spectrum of world views?

    • Eric Flint says:

      I find your comments frankly puzzling. Given that:

      1) I am a hardcore atheist;
      2) The central hero of the series (Mike Stearns) is an agnostic;
      3) One of the two major female characters (Rebecca Abrabanel) is Jewish, and while she follows most of Judaism’s customs — as defined in the 17th century — she is theologically a free-thinker;
      4) The other major female character (Gretchen Richter) is nominally a Catholic but her life’s experience has made her highly skeptical of religious orthodoxies and (especially) religious hierarchies;
      5) The second most important up-time male character (Jeff Higgins) has no religious beliefs at all, so far as has ever been established in the series;
      6) The third most important up-time male character (Eddie Cantrell) also has no religious beliefs at all, so far as we know;
      7) The most important up-time Jewish characters (Morris and Judith Roth) are Reform Jews and Morris is pretty hostile to orthodox Judaism…

      I could continue in this vein for a very long time but after a while it seems pointless. I have no idea why you think the 1632 series in general is weighted toward fundamentalism, nor why David Carrico in particular is engaged on “close minded Christian propaganda.” Some space is given to developing what you might call “fundamentalist” religious views, sure. The setting is the Thirty Years War — which, at least on the surface, was the great religious war in modern European history. You CAN’T depict it intelligently without depicting the religious attitudes of the time.

      For the record, by the way, if David Carrico is a fundamentalist Christian I am not aware of it. I’ve spent many hours in his company (and his wife’s) and while I don’t recall ever discussing his religious opinions, he has never expressed any such attitudes or views. I think you are confusing the author with his characters, which can often be two very different things.

      • Drak Bibliophile says:

        I just read David Carrico’s “Interlude” and can’t understand why anybody would see it as “fundamentalist Christian PR”.

        For that matter, if “fundamentalism equals closed-mindedness”, there are plenty of modern atheists and modern Christians who could be considered fundamentalists. [Sad Smile]

        • Lately I’ve been thinking that the “fundamentalist” wing of atheism might be more properly termed anti-theist. A small difference, but perhaps important? Not all the atheists in the world are like Dawkins.

  8. Matthew Chamberlainl says:

    I am VERY disappointed. I love everything that you write. BUT, I do NOT read anthologies or short stories except as written in magazines or on a stand alone basis.

    I feel that I have been robbed by the “1635: The Tangled Web” “novel” written by Virginia DeMarce. Since when do historical background notes and timelines or edited excerpts pass off as a novel??? You owe me $8.00.

    Sincerely,
    Matthew Chamberlain

    • Eric Flint says:

      For Pete’s sake, do you ever bother to look at a book before you buy it? If you had, you would have realized that the volume consisted of a compilation of stories, not a novel. That is made clear in the back cover copy, it is explicit in the Table of Contents — and I describe it in detail in my preface to the volume. And given the prominence of short fiction in the series — twelve out of the twenty-three volumes so far published in the series are anthologies, not novels — it’s something you should have thought of immediately, if you’re that opposed to reading compilations of short fiction.

      If you still insist on being reimbursed, fine. But I’m only reimbursing you for what I got in royalties. If you want the rest of the eight dollars, get in touch with the publisher. Since you paid $8.00, you must have gotten a mass market paperback copy. (The trade paperback is $16 and the e-book is $6.99.) With mass market paperback sales, my royalties are 8% of the cover price. That’s what _I_ got from your purchase. That comes to 64 cents. (Actually, it came to 32 cents since I split the money with Virginia, but never mind — I’ll cover her half of it.)

      So send me a street address or an email address I can use with PayPal and I’ll send you 64 cents. And in the future, take the time to look at a book before you pay for it.

  9. An Innocent Bibliophile...I mean Bystander... says:

    First of all…you, Mr. Flint, absolutely ROCK. I already loved you for your work, and I thought I’d like you based on opinions on various subjects that you’ve published such as…that thing…it starts with a p…obscure word…it’s in the baen free library! Gah. You talk about ebooks and copyright and there are letters…you wexplain the word’s meaning in the preface. Maybe it doesn’t even start with p. I don’t know what to believe anymore…heh. Anyway, the way you expressed your thoughts there, and elsewhere, led me to think I would enjoy an opportunity to talk to you. What just clinched it though, was your response to the above commenter! 64 cents indeed! I’ve no doubt whatsoever that you were accurate, it’s just that the response, so polite, yet with a chastening bite, given that much more weight for its mannerliness. Delightful. An author who can respond that way, heck, a person who can respond that way to that sort of -IMO- boorish comment is someone I’d undoubtedly enjoy talking to. Thanks for making me smile on a day I hadn’t yet. On a side note, and why I was originally going to comment, do you think you could update this page? For instance, devils opera, commander Cantrell west indies, etc. I was reading the commander Cantrell snippets, and Mike McCarthy mentioned a treaty with the French, which made me wonder when that happened, which made me wonder which books came immediately before that one. Pardon my terrible grammar etc. I have a virus, and my writing brain seems to be the one with the fever. Moving on, it really would be fantastic if you could nip those in there, maybe into the list at the bottom? Idk how involved that would be though, so apologies if the commenter doth protest too much. ;) Be well!

    • Eric Flint says:

      The page has been updated. It took much longer than I planned because my webmaster got tied up with various problems and couldn’t get around to posting the new material for a while.

      • DVK says:

        Eric – first off, thank you for creating and expanding this wonderful world. Never mind making the effort to provide reading order! Second, while the most recent update (as per your last comment) should be from March 20th, the current text does not cover the 3 new books I see on Amazon: “1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies” (that one has an excuse of not being released till June :); “1636: The Devil’s Opera”; and “1636: Seas of Fortune”. Could you please include those?

        • Eric Flint says:

          I think it’s still too early to expand the recommended reading order of the series. That’s because we’ve started at least two new ongoing storylines: the one in Russia begun in Kremlin Games and the naval line centered on Eddie Cantrell. Any additions I made now would have to be changed in a year or two. Besides, I figure anyone who gets through the first dozen or so novels has a pretty good bearing on the series anyway.

  10. Lyle Nelson says:

    As a modern Christian fundamentalist with an open mind I can say that someone would have to have a very closed mind to view anything in these wonderfull books as a ‘tool of close minded Christian propaganda’. The books are what they are, a work of fiction to entertain us. The fact that people respond they way they do shows just how good they are. Thank you for the books and the many hours of joyfull reading.

  11. okay where is the main storyline says:

    Hi, I’m a huge fan of your series (I got into this sort of thing because of Turtledove and David Webers Safehold series). But I am very confused by the list that you have given for your books.

    What I am trying to find are the continuations of the main story line. AKA more along the vein of 1632,33, and 34 the baltic war. I’ll read the rest eventually but I really want to keep with this story line right now and not buy the books that I don’t want to read for a few more months.

    • Vikingted says:

      “okay…” If you want to know what to read in the line you listed, then read these two 1635: The Eastern Front and 1636: The Saxon Uprising. This was discussed above, so I guess you missed this. Then you can wait like the rest of us for more in this mainline series.
      I think I have read every paper version of these books. I believe I have copies of every tree based publication released. My paperback version of 1632 is getting very worn, good thing this story was available on Baen Free Library so I have a backup.
      Thank You Eric and Co. for the great leasure reading! When I travel, I mention this alt history story line to fellow travelers (since I always seem to have one of the books with me to enjoy). Does Baen have any promotion budget for my efforts? ; }

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  13. adam says:

    On a whim, brought a lot of this series at auction. Can I say re-reading it, and in the order you had developed, has been a wonderful experience. I just finished 1634: The Galileo Affair – so from this point they are all new.

    So thanks Eric, what a great body of work – it is a joy to read it all again. And starting afresh, has really proven what a wondrous series this is.

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