I read this book in halting installments; not because I couldn’t get through it quickly, but because I read each section as it became available, starting two months before its ostensible publishing date. I don’t know whether that says more about the book or about my love for the series started by Eric Flint‘s 1632. I can say that I would certainly recommend this one to anyone else who has enjoyed the previous books in the series. Read on past the break to find my more nuanced thoughts on Iver Cooper‘s 1636: Seas of Fortune.
The first thing that I noticed as I started reading this book was that it wasn’t one whole story the entire way through. Instead, it offers a series of short stories, broken into two groups. The first half of the book deals with short stories set mostly in the Caribbean and South America, while the second half deals with short stories set mostly in Japan. In each case, the ‘short story feel’ (for lack of a better description) comes through quite strongly, offering little glimpses into the lives of characters rather than the prolonged exposure and more pronounced heroism and conflict that you can expect from most of the other 163X books. In my opinion, the book suffers somewhat from this; but the truth is that I had not expected it to be a series of mostly interconnected short stories, and I wanted more of the sense of continuity and adventure that I have come to enjoy from this series. This is certainly not the book’s fault, as it does a perfectly good job of telling its interconnected short stories.
On a related note, perhaps because of my misplaced expectations, I found the book to be somewhat disjointed. Or maybe that was because I started reading it in October, read more of it in November, and then finished it in December, reading more as each new section was released? Again, I can’t fault the book for my having read it piecemeal. And it says something about the way in which it drew me in that I didn’t wait for more of the book to come out before reading each available section. I know, for example, that the first half of the book (all of which was available at once) passed by in a haze as I read it all in one enthusiasm-fueled blur.
I can say that I don’t feel like this book told the whole story of any of the characters involved, and that I wish that there were more there. But I think that’s to be expected in a collection of short stories like this one, and I can also say that I liked the settings, liked the characters, and liked where Cooper took them both. As is usually the case with 163X books, what I want most is more story to follow this.
So despite my misunderstandings about what this book was supposed to be, I would still strongly recommend this book to anyone who has enjoyed the other books in the series. I’m pretty sure that my few moments of dissatisfaction with the book came mostly from my failure to realize what I had picked up. If you haven’t read the 1632 series, I think you should give it a try. Just don’t start with this book, because you’ll spend most of your time missing all the little connections that tie it back into the rest of the series.
You won’t see anything from me this Wednesday, as I will be spending time with family.