1637: The Volga Rules Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
It's been five years since a cosmic incident known as The Ring of Fire transported the modern-day town of Grantville, West Virginia, through time and space to 17th-century Europe. The course of world history has been forever altered. And Mother Russia is no exception.
Inspired by the American up-timers' radical notion that all people are created equal, Russian serfs are rebelling. The entire village of Poltz, led by blacksmith Stefan Andreevich, pulls up stakes to make a run for freedom.
Meanwhile, Czar Mikhail has escaped house arrest, with the aid of up-time car mechanic Bernie Zeppi, his Russian associates - and a zeppelin. The czar makes his way to the village of Ufa. There he intends to set up a government-in-exile. It is to Ufa that the serfs of Poltz are heading, as well.
The path is dangerous - for the serfs as well as the czar. They face great distances and highwaymen. But the worst threat are those in the aristocracy who seek to crush the serfs and execute the czar in a bid to drive any hope for Russian freedom under their Parisian-crafted boot heels. But the Russians of 1637 have taken inspiration from their up-timer counterparts. And it could be that a new wind of liberty is about to blow three centuries early - and change Mother Russia forever.
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|Listening Length||11 hours and 58 minutes|
|Author||Eric Flint, Paula Goodlett, Gorg Huff|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||April 10, 2018|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #20,141 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#36 in Alternate History Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#99 in Time Travel Science Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#189 in Alternate History Science Fiction (Books)
Reviewed in the United States on June 9, 2019
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Top reviews from the United States
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One thing I really liked about The Kremlin Games was that you could follow the storyline even if you had only read the original 1632. So, if you're new to this series, you can read 1632 (available to read at the Baen Free Library of books online because the first taste is always free ;) ), then 1636 The Kremlin Games, then this book. Then, if you're finally hooked on this series, the threads spread out in all different directions. Some are less fun to read than others, but even the heaviest slogs (I'm not real big on theological explanations, for instance) generally have one major point to make before the end that make me realize that while I'm not necessarily going to re-read some of these, I'm very glad I persevered to get through to that one major point.
The major point which you get near the end of this Volga Rules books made my eyes open REAL wide as the characters tried to create a constitution which could weld together both "free" states with "slavery-legal" states into one coherent country in much the same way (and much the same reasons) as the original USA. Anything less than "everyone is created equal" is not really acceptable to modern Americans, but this team of writers came up with a variation which--logically--should allow slavery and serfdom to be phased out rather than simply "kicking that can down the road" to a future Civil War. Certainly it addresses the "why don't we have more people voting in our elections" issue. I originally was going to rate this as a four-star book, but simply thinking through how to review this book makes me realize that yes, I really do love the compromise they came up with. I also want to see how the rest of the countries (and in particular, the USE) respond to this compromise. Like the best of the 163x books, this leaves you wanting more.
Sadly, my local library system probably won't pick up this book since it's too dependent on more than one book and they seem to have made the decision to not try to carry every Ring of Fire book.
It is clear that authors did their research on the Russian history of the early 17th century.
I like the deliberate attempt not to inject the mesh of all sorts of "future" technologies - precious few very believable techs are added and then reader is observing the experiment of how that limited alteration would change history.
I found it funny how authors inserted abbreviation "USSR" with different underlying words as name of the 17th century country. Although that trick only makes sense in English. The Russian abbreviation for the proposed 17th century country would be very different from abbreviation for the real Soviet Union of 20th century.
Book ends at a cliffhanger and I will be waiting for the next volume.
However, there are 3 reasons I took out 1 star in my review of this book
1. Main problem is that when authors are trying to do their best to describe some technical design to show how well they thought it all out, text becomes boring and unreadable for 2 or 3 pages.
2. Book has quiet a few strong female characters and American or thoroughly Americanized women from Granville are possible considering the modeled history. But Russian women except maybe Czarina are completely unbelievable in the very patriarchal Russian society of that historical period. Russian women would not behave in such a way and would not speak in such a way. They would use "soft power" if they would not want to antagonize the entire village or society, even if their husband would be supportive of their feministic attitude. Czarina could be an exception, because no other man in Russian society except Czar would dare to judge her. As long as her husband Czar does not mind her attitude, she would be cool. You can search book "Domostroi" right here on Amazon to see how "appropriate and expected" behavior for Russian women of that time would look like in 17th century and it could not deviate from that expectation too much under such a limited Grantville influence as described in the book.
3. (minor) Many names, which sound Russian only for a non-Russian speaker. For a Russian speaker they either non-Russian or adopted from other cultures Russian names from much later time in real history - like 19th or 20th century.
1637: The Volga Rules is the direct sequel to 1636: The Kremlin Games. Czar Mikhail has escaped Moscow with his family (and his life) to Ufa (to the East near the Ural Mountains, but not as far as Siberia).
Fedor Ivanovich Sheremetev, as Director-General supposedly ruling in Mikhail’s name, had taken charge in Moscow and fervently hoped Czar Mikhail would fall in battle when his troops got to Ufa.
The country is now on the verge of civil war. Both Sheremetev and Mikhail, of course, maintain that only he is the rightful leader of Russia.
Czar Mikhail issues a proclamation freeing Russian serfs (similar to the Emancipation Proclamation in the U.S.) and then later says he wants to be a constitutional monarch (like, for instance, Gustav Adolph of Sweden).
I enjoyed both the political maneuvering and the introduction of advanced 20th century technology to 1637 Russia.
Yes, they have radios transmitting Morse Code but the stations can only send/receive within 20 miles so you set up a station every 20 miles!
The roads in Russia are horrible so, if you can, you go by river. Both sides also have dirigibles, as well!
Another highly satisfying read and highly recommended for alternate history fans!
Top reviews from other countries
The books in this series are identified with titles which are, or begin with, the 17th century year in which the main action of each book takes place (e.g. 1632, 1633, etc) and it is sometimes known as the "Ring of Fire" or "Assiti Shards" series.
The "Ring of Fire" is how the inhabitants of Grantville described the event which brought their town back 370 years in time and a few thousand miles in space. The Assiti were the race whose thoughtless actions, described in the first book as akin to "criminal negligence," caused that event, though we are told in the first novel in the series that no human will ever learn this.
Some of the books in this series were just written by Eric Flint but most have one or more co-authors such as David Weber. They differ very greatly in their style and focus, and I gather I am not the only reader who enjoyed some of them very much more than others. There is a group of five novels which I did enjoy and can recommend to others, and from which this story follows on, which can be read in sequence and give you a reasonable overview of the history of the very different seventeenth century which Grantville's arrival in Germany in 1631 creates in the stories.
Eric Flint himselves describes these same five books as the "Main line" or spinal cord of the series to date in the afterword to this volume. They are:
1632 (Ring of Fire)
1634: The Baltic War
1635: The Eastern Front (Ring of Fire)
1636: The Saxon Uprising (Ring of Fire Series Book 12)
If you are going to read this series I would recommend you start with those five in that sequence, and then follow some of the side plots, of which the Russian sub-series which currently consists of "The Kremlin Games" and then this book, is one.
The Kremlin Games describes how a mechanic from Grantville, Bernie Zeppi was hired to try to being modern science to Russia, but ideas came with him, leading to an attempted coup against the Tsar he has been working for from those who rejected those ideas.
At the start of this book the rightful Tsar has escaped from house arrest with the help of Bernie Zeppi, a few associates, the the crew of Russia's first airship. They head for the town of Ufa on the Volga, and attempt to build a new Russian society ...
A fuller list of novels and short story collections in the series, in approximately the reading order suggested by the author, is as follows:
Ring of Fire
1634: The Baltic War
"The Grantville Gazette" story collections
1634: The Ram Rebellion
1634: The Galileo Affair
1634: The Bavarian Crisis
1635: A Parcel of Rogues
Ring of Fire II
1635: The Cannon Law
1635: The Dreeson Incident
1635: The Tangled Web (by Virginia DeMarce)
1635: The Papal Stakes
1635: The Eastern Front
1635: The Wars for the Rhine
1636: The Saxon Uprising
Ring of Fire III
1636: The Kremlin Games
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
Ring of Fire IV
1636: The Chronicles of Dr. Gribbleflotz
1636: The Ottoman Onslaught
1636: Mission to the Mughals
1637: the Atlantic Encounter
This book, 1637: the Volga Rules
Flint has also written a book called Time Spike , in which a second time dislocation event hits the 21st century world which Grantville has left behind a few years later, and "The Alexander Inheritance" in which a third "Ring of Fire" type event hits the timeline from which Grantville and the main characters of "Time Spike" had previously disappeared.
I did enjoy this book, which has some good humour and some clever ideas. The quality of the historical research and imagination in this series is extremely patchy, excellent in places and rather poor in others. This appears to be one of the better books in that respect
An example of why I describe the historical research in the series as patchy is that earlier books in the series made out Charles I of England, who admittedly wasn't the most brilliant man who ever lived, out to be a vastly bigger idiot than he ever was in life, while presenting a view of Oliver Cromwell which depicted him as seen through the most flattering of rose-tinted spectacles.
Some of the other research, however, is much better. I'm not an expert on dirigible airships or on the history of Russia but to the best of my knowledge the research which has gone into constructing "The Volga Rules" appears to be pretty good, on those subjects and others. There are also a few sharp political and historical insights in this book.
Eric Flint does have a weakness for making those 17th century historical characters who he likes amazingly successful in adapting to ideas from hundreds of years later, and to make them implausibly prone to behave in accordance with the standards which 21st century readers will approve of.
Nevertheless a "fun read" and one which I enjoyed.
If you enjoy this story of a modern community sent back many years in time, you might also enjoy S.M. Stirling's Nantucket trilogy in which that island is sent much further back by a similar event. The Nantucket trilogy consists of:
Island in the Sea of Time
Against the Tide of Years (Nantucket)
On the Oceans of Eternity (Nantucket) .