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1635: The Tangled Web

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Cover artist  Tom Kidd
Language  English
Pages  368 (paperback)
Author  Virginia DeMarce
Publisher  Baen Books
3.3/5 Goodreads

Country  United States
Publication date  December 1, 2009
Originally published  1 December 2009
Followed by  1635: The Eastern Front
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Media type  Print (hardback & paperback)
Preceded by  1635: The Dreeson Incident
Genres  Alternate history, Science Fiction
Similar  Virginia DeMarce books, 1632 series books

1635: The Tangled Web is a novel in the alternate history 1632 series, written by Virginia DeMarce. Two of the stories were previously published in the online version of The Grantville Gazettes with the Prince and Abbot first published in Volume 8 and Mail Stop first published in Volume 9. The rest of the stories are original material.


Plot summary

The main setting takes place in Fulda in 1633 and follows in four interlinking stories which ties together near the end of the novel.

"Prince and Abbot"

The New United States decided to accept the return of Johann Bernhard Schenk von Schweinsberg as the Abbot of Fulda, but the Abbot will have to give up the title of prince. Moreover, he will not be allowed to collect tithes. The N.U.S. is now the secular authority in Fulda and will collect the taxes. The Abbot surprises Wes Jenkins - the administrator of Fulda - in his attempts to persuade the monks to abide by the new rules of his order. The local monks have been difficult over abiding by these rules. Even the import of Saint Gall monks hasn't won them over to the Tridentine doctrines. Dissatisfied Catholic conspirators in Bonn decide to unsettle affairs in Fulda, in which they initially arrange to post scurrilous flyers all over the town and then hiring Irish mercenaries led by Walter Leslie into abducting the Abbot and several N.U.S. administrators.

"Mail Stop"

The story focus on Martin Wackernagel. As a private courier, Martin delivers correspondence and small packages on a route stretching from Grantville to Gelnhausen along the imperial road. He also makes side trips to Barracktown and other locations near his route. Martin visits his mother now and then during his travels, but he is reluctant to face her. She keeps asking when he will be married, but things are not as they seems. There is a secondary thread involving a pair of fourteen-year olds operating a downtime mimeograph machine and unwittingly producing propaganda material that could lead to local unrest that is always in the background of the first three stories.

A third thread involves involves a young teenaged Jewish boy named David who wanted to leave his village and see the world as a postal carrier instead of being tied to his village in an unwanted profession and an arranged marriage to a vapid young girl. All of the different thread diverge and intersects along Wackernagel's postal route.

"Happy Wanderer"

“MAIL STOP” and “HAPPY WANDERER” tell the story of Martin Wackernagel, a private courier with a regular route. Martin maintains three separate households complete with wife and children unknown to his mother or his other “wives”. The woman he hopes to make his fourth wife is niece to Clara Bachmeierin, who married Wes Jenkins in the first story.

"Window of Opportunity"

The story examines the actions of the Mainz Committee of Correspondence. Bernard Eberhard – Captain Duke of the Swedish Army – is sent to Fulda by General Brahe to observe the interplay between NUS administrators and Abbot von Schweinsberg. Bernhard takes his brothers and his fellow CoC members with him to Fulda. He and his brothers began working for Major Derek Utt. Later, Utt plans an operation against the Irish soldiers who had abducted the Abbot. He sends Sergeant Helmut Herke and a small band of soldiers to determine the whereabouts of the colonels.

Literary significance and reception

One reviewer thought that the first half of the book was a "little boring" since it describes events that were mentioned in previous books but from a different POV. For the second half of the book, the reviewer said that this "section of the book starts out light and turns dark but is all fresh material."

1635: The Tangled Web was listed on the Locus (magazine) Hardcovers Bestsellers List for one month during 2010 at number 5.


1635: The Tangled Web Wikipedia

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