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Summary

The Ring of Fire Series continues! The United States of Europe finds itself embroiled in international intrigue, as the uptimers attempt to establish an embassy in Ming Dynasty-era China.   

The newly formed United States of Europe, created by an alliance between the time-displaced Americans from the town of Grantville and the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus, decides to send an embassy to the Chinese empire. One of the main purposes of the embassy is to establish trade in order to gain access to critical resources. The mission is a gamble - some might say, a long shot. The Ming dynasty is on the verge of collapse and China’s rulers are suspicious of foreigners.  

The mission experiences one setback after another, but presses on. And they gain an important ally along the way: Zheng Zhilong, a former pirate, now an admiral for the Ming navy and the head of an extremely wealthy Fujian province trading family. He knows through his Jesuit missionary connections that according to Grantville's history books, the Ming dynasty is in danger, from famines, bandit armies, and barbarian invaders. And he is determined that, one way or another, he and his family will survive and even prosper. 

The embassy is joined as well by a young scholar, who helps them make inroads into China’s complex and often dangerous society. Can the up-timers and their friends persuade the imperial dynasty and its mandarins to establish trade and diplomatic relations with the USE? They have one great asset: their knowledge may be the key to saving China from decades of mass suffering and civil war.

©2019 Eric Flint & Iver P. Cooper (P)2019 Recorded Books

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effervescent

Quite alright. Nice addition if you enjoy the 1632 series, but not one of the greatest.

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  • Linda Luella
  • 27-09-19

Big Disappointment.

I loved 1632 and most of the sequels but this is NOT even adequate as an installment. There's no character development or even a real storyline here. It reads like a travel logue. I'm really disappointed in Eric Flint.

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  • P. Lohnes
  • 13-04-20

Eager to see the next China novel

I began listening with concern based on some review I read. They suggested that this was a lot of exposition on subjucts and not much of a story. There is certainly some, but no more than the other 1632 universe stories. That detail is what I believe many of love about this universe. There isn't the typical handwavium that all to many authors engage in but instead some of the issues that one would run into in the real world are detailed with out going to ridiculous lengths (as someone who works for a chemistry company I can tell you in The Dr. Gribbiflotz stories they got the chemical safety issues on the table and correct). I found the stories (multi threads per usual) interesting, and listen to the entire thing in about 24 hours.

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  • Huang Zhizheng
  • 18-02-20

Unexpected enjoyment

Admittedly I did not have high expectations for this instalment, nonetheless, the story was well-researched and engaging (I have to credit the narrator for doing a good job on the Mandarin pronunciation of names). It was a refreshing departure from the politics of Europe with that served as the stage for all the RoF books I have read (listened to) so far, and this setting in China's Ming Dynasty offers the potential for as much depth and intrigue if Flint & Cooper are willing to delve even deeper.

My only complaint is that it feels like we have not yet begun to tackle the main plot points; I will be waiting patiently for the sequel.

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  • Michael D. Stuart
  • 06-08-20

Not as exciting as earlier books in the series

Obviously substantial research was involved in writing this book but I found it rather boring. It limped along detailing customs and history with brief action. Would have enjoyed it more if emphasis was reversed.

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  • arrow
  • 02-06-20

A weak addition to the series

Combines a travelogue with a recounting of middle school science experiments to a 17th century Chinese audience. There are a few interesting elements to the story, characters, and history, but the pacing is slow.