1632 series reading order

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

Updated by: Eric Flint
January 21, 2016

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, if all you want is the results, skip to the summary. For the explanation, 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 1636: The Saxon Uprising
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, you should read 1635: A Parcel of Rogues, which I co-authored with Andrew Dennis. That’s one of the two sequels to 1634: The Baltic War, the other one being 1635: The Eastern Front. The reason you should read Parcel of Rogues at this point is that most of it takes place in the year 1634.

Thereafter, 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, a collection of inter-related stories that runs parallel to many of the episodes in 1635: The Dreeson Incident. 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.

1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies picks up on the adventures of Eddie Cantrell following the events depicted in 1634: The Baltic War.

1636: The Cardinal Virtues depicts the opening of the French civil war which was also produced by the events related in The Baltic War and which has been foreshadowed in a number of stories following that novel.

Iver Cooper’s 1636: Seas of Fortune takes place in the Far East and in the New World. The portion of it titled “Stretching Out” may have some spoilers to Commander Cantrell in the West Indies and vice versa, but nothing too important.

1636: The Devil’s Opera takes place in Magdeburg and might have some spoilers if you haven’t read Saxon Uprising. My co-author on this novel, David Carrico, also has an e-book available titled 1635: Music and Murder which contains stories published in various anthologies that provide much of the background to The Devil’s Opera.

1636: The Viennese Waltz comes after Saxon Uprising in the sense that nothing in it will be spoiled by anything in Saxon  Uprising but you might find out Mike’s whereabouts early if you read it first.  On the other hand the e-book 1636: The Barbie Consortium is a direct prequel to Viennese Waltz and should be read first to introduce you to the young ladies dancing the Viennese Waltz.

1636: The Viennese Waltz is also one of the three immediate prequels to the next main line novel in the series, which is 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught. The book is scheduled for publication in January of 2017—a year from now—and, as is true with most of the main line novels, I’m the sole author. If you’re wondering, the other two immediate prequels are 1636: The Saxon Uprising and my short novel “Four Days on the Danube,” which was published in Ring of Fire III.

As long as I’m foreshadowing titles that’ll be published in 2016, the next volumes coming out after 1635: Parcel of Rogues are these two:

Ring of Fire IV (forthcoming May, 2016). There are a number of stories in this volume written by different authors including David Brin. From the standpoint of the series’ reading order, however, probably the most important is my own story “Scarface.” This short novel serves simultaneously as a sequel to The Papal Stakes and The Dreeson Incident, in that the story depicts the further adventures of Harry Lefferts after Papal Stakes and Ron Stone and Missy Jenkins following The Dreeson Incident.

1636: The Chronicles of Dr. Gribbleflotz, by Kerryn Offord and Rick Boatright (forthcoming August, 2016). As with The Devil’s Opera, this is a story set in the middle of the United States of Europe as it evolves. In this case, relating the adventures of a seventeenth century scholar—a descendant of the great Paracelsus—who becomes wealthy by translating the fuzzy and erroneous American notions of “chemistry” into the scientific precision of alchemy.

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 sixty-three electronic issues of the magazine, so I will restrict myself simply to the seven 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 along with the next batch of novels recommended.

Finally, I’d recommend reading the most recent Gazette volume—that’s Grantville Gazette VII, published in April of 2015—any time after you’ve read 1636: The Cardinal Virtues.

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

Summary:

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. On the other hand, if you like maps, here’s a flowchart, color coded to show which book is related to what. (Click on the small image for a full sized one, or visit it on gliffy.com for an interactive viewer.) That’s followed by the text version.

1632 Reading Order Flowchart

1632 Reading Order Flowchart

Reading order list:

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
1635: A Parcel of Rogues

(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
(by Virginia DeMarce)

(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

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

1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies
1636: The Cardinal Virtues
1635: Music and Murder (by David Carrico—this is an e-book edition only)
1636: The Devil’s Opera
1636: Seas of Fortune (by Iver Cooper)
1636: The Barbie Consortium (by Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett—this is an e-book edition only)
1636: The Viennese Waltz

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

And that leaves the following volumes, which will be appearing over the course of the next year:

Ring of Fire IV (forthcoming May, 2016)
1636: The Chronicles of Dr. Gribbleflotz (forthcoming August, 2016)
1636: The Ottoman Onslaught (forthcoming January, 2017)

Eric Flint
January 2016

206 Responses to 1632 series reading order

  1. Jim Hankey says:

    Loved The Cardinal Virtues and am wondering when the sequel will be published and what it’s title will be. I’m on tenterhooks to know the fates of Gaston and the infant Louis! I’ve read almost everything Grantville-related. Loved this one quite a bit. Please, more France!

  2. Wes Dickson says:

    This is a question not a comment. Where does “1635: The wars for the Rhine” Fit into the reading order?

    • Mike J Nagle says:

      Wes,

      Pardon me for presuming to answer on Eric’s behalf, but I believe I know the answer to this question.

      In my opinion, 1635: The Wars for the Rhine should be read immediately after 1635: A Parcel of Rogues.

      However, Eric is the final authority on this matter. If he says different, then of course he’s right.

      Mike

      • Sandy says:

        With havin so much content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright violation? My website has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it looks like a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my peisismron. Do you know any solutions to help prevent content from being ripped off? I’d truly appreciate it.

      • Well as long as I’m at it you can add a custom favicon (thats the little icon next to your address in your web browser) by going to general settings and uploading a “blog picture/ icon.” This will replace the little WordPress logo which is placed there by default.

  3. Charlyne DeMonnin says:

    I would like to know more regarding Noel Stull and Janos, Denise Beasly, Judith Wendell, Ron and Missy Stone.

  4. Mark Cope says:

    I have a question!

    In which book or story did the state of Tryol enter the United States of Europe. I missed that story and want to read it. Thank You for your help.

    Mark cope

    • Mike J Nagle says:

      Hi,

      The story you’re looking for is “An Uneasy Kind of Peace” by Virginia DeMarce. It was published in six parts in the Grantville Gazette e-zine, issues 52-57.

      I have heard rumors that it might be published soon as a novel by Ring of Fire Press, but I can’t say when it might come out.

      Mike

  5. Bill Williams (Bill in Boulder) says:

    As a fan of the series I would find a concordance helpful in following the various characters through the stories. Has/will/might this be done? Bill in Boulder

  6. James Johnson says:

    Pretty soon the flowchart is going to need a new category for Asian set novels.

  7. Chris Chivers says:

    Any chance of updating the flowchart to include the 3 Ring Of Fire Press paper editions plus the forthcoming titles please.

    • Mike J Nagle says:

      James,

      I can’t say when Eric will be able to publish an updated version of his Reading Order flowchart, but I doubt it will be soon, in light of his recent health issues.

      For what it’s worth, I have created such a flowchart, although it is of my own design, rather than Eric’s. It includes all of the 163x novels and anthologies from Baen Books, as well as the Ring of Fire anthologies and the paper editions of the Grantville Gazette (but not the e-zines). It also includes all of the Ring of Fire Press fiction titles published so far, as well as all of the upcoming titles from Baen Books and Ring of Fire Press. It includes explanatory notes, and is completely consistent with the Reading Order Eric laid out in January 2016.

      I posted a link to the the first version of it in a comment in this thread in June 2016. It was fairly crude, but Eric said he liked it, and he pointed out a couple of errors and even made suggestions for improving it.

      Since then, I have continued to refine the design of my flowchart, and have kept it up to date. The latest version is complete, and up to date, as of 4 April 2017.

      My flowchart can be downloaded here.

      This is a permanent link. The very latest version of my flowchart will always be available for download at this address.

      I hope you find it helpful.

      Mike

    • Mike J Nagle says:

      Oops.

      I meant to address my reply to Chris, not James.

      Mike

  8. Doug Johnson says:

    Love these books.

    Suggestion – the order to read these books could/would be very helpful to those like myself that love this kind of fiction.

    Because . . . I almost stopped reading this series because I got lost in the chronology. Reading the front fly leaf and clicking on amazon.com links to rof books is a very poor way to figure what is happening with the books and which to buy.

    I’d love for others to be able to easily find the chronology and enjoy these wonderful books.

    Regards

    • Doug Johnson says:

      See above. In other words . . . post a link to this to this on the amazon.com page for Mr. Flint or something.

      Actually I’ll leave a link in the comments.

  9. Deborah Jones says:

    I have just finished 32 and 33 along with Ring of Fire #1 and Grantville Gazettes #s1,2,3. As a European / Medieval / Renaissance / Church History/ Theology major (3 degrees later). Not so much “modern” but I am 69 so have lived much of that). I am enjoying the entire series to date. I want to mention that I have very much enjoyed Gazettes 1,2,3 – most particularly Hobson’s Choice – in Seminary (Methodist) I also took Catholic and Luther theology. Now that I am attending a Reformed Presbyterian Church – I have & am learning about Calvin’s teachings. I also enjoyed Hell’s Fighters. Many of the monastic teachings have been relegated out of current theological teachings which is most unfortunate. Thank you for including that story. I have returned 1 & 2 to the library and so cannot remember titles of stories. I enjoy the personal nature of the stories and am having fun putting all that learning to good use now (finally, that is). PS: The e-mail is because I collect Peanuts (ie Snoopy – Charlie Brown …etc). I am not personally a nosy person snooping around – although with my graduate & undergrad studies, I have certainly snooped around the history departments!! Thank you for this opportunity.

  10. Deborah Jones says:

    Thank you for better maps in Bavarian Crisis. Also TUVM for the alphabetized cast of characters. Is there an integrated list with what book / story person is in?

    • Susnn Free says:

      I also would love a list that gives the appearances of various characters, particularly the musicians, the detectives, the commercial and the religious figures.

  11. #1. Thank you for reading order list. #2 Will there be a Ring of Fire V. #3. Is there a composite list of characters – perhaps online somewhere. That would help &&& be very nice.

  12. Melanie Stensrud says:

    Just finished The Kremlin Games and loved it! Can’t wait to find out what happens next. Do we get a sequel soon?

    • Eric Flint says:

      Yes. The title of the sequel is 1637: THE VOLGA RULES and it’s being published in February.

      • Mike J Nagle says:

        Eric,

        Thank you for the wonderful news!

        I have long been waiting anxiously for 1637: The Volga Rules, and this is the first time I’m hearing about a publication date.

        By the way, I hope you are feeling well.

        Mike

  13. Thanks for this article. I will also like to mention that it can always be hard when you find yourself in school and starting out to initiate a long credit score. There are many scholars who are merely trying to pull through and have a lengthy or beneficial credit history can be a difficult thing to have.

  14. Paul Clark says:

    I am a librarian trying to help our patrons by adding the recommended order into our library catalog. However, this list has not been updated in a while I am trying to understand where does the newer books such as 1636 The Vatican Sanctions fit in. Thanks for your help

    • Mike J Nagle says:

      Paul,

      For what it’s worth, I have created a Reading-Order Flowchart of my own. It is not in the same format as Eric’s, but it serves the same purpose. It is fully up to date as of September 20, 2017.

      It contains all of the 163x titles from Baen Books, as well as the Ring of Fire anthologies and the paper editions of the Grantville Gazette (but not the e-zine editions). It also contains all of the Ring of Fire Press titles as well, and all of the forthcoming titles. It is fully compliant with Eric’s reading order.

      The flowchart can be downloaded here.

      This link will always point to the latest version. I have posted this link a few times earlier in this thread, for what it’s worth, and they also point to the latest version.

      I “published” the first version of the flowchart in June 2016, and have kept it up to date continuously since then. Eric has seen it, and has said that he likes it. He has also given me helpful advice and pointed out a couple of errors.

      Please feel free to use it to update your library’s catalog, and to print it out and distribute copies to your patrons. I only ask that you only distribute unaltered copies.

      I hope you find it helpful.

      Mike

      • Brian says:

        It is very helpful. In fact, it’s enough so that I urge you to consider a web address shortener like TinyURL to make it easier to share. After all, while “here’s the link” works well enough in online situations, it’s awkward when, for one completely random example chosen solely by chance and whim and certainly not directly inspired by actual events, one is standing in line for a convention panel and happens to get into a relevant conversation and has to stutter out “um…and you can find the order online at…er…uh…well, it’s out there.”

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