Note: I was asked to write a review of 1635: The Papal Stakes. I decided to do a separate post to provide context for those who don’t know what the series is about.

My friend and sometime employer Regina Doman, who owns the small publisher Chesterton Press, is extremely picky about the covers of the books she publishes. I’m not quite as picky, but there’s good reason to pay attention because it’s often the first thing that a potential reader will see. It gives a sense of the adventure you’ll find inside; or perhaps it’ll make you curious about the symbols or people shown there; or, sometimes, there will be something so incredibly grabbing about it that you’ll pick the book up and say “That had better be in here!”

Many years ago, I was browsing the Baen Books catalog of upcoming releases when I spotted the latter kind. Rather than describing anything else first, let me just show it to you:

To quote my friend Andy after seeing this for the first time: “Wh-wh-whaaaaaaaaaaaaa?”

This is 1632, by Eric Flint, first book in the Ring of Fire series (originally The Assiti Shards, and now more commonly known as just the 1632 series). This impossible scene doesn’t quite happen in the book, but it comes close. Yes, those are modern Americans with modern guns. Yes, those are 17th-century soldiers with 17th-century guns and armor. No, those 17th-century guys don’t know what they’re getting into.  Continue reading