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"I say we start the American Revolution — a hundred and fifty years ahead of schedule!"
Michael Stearns

1632 by Eric Flint, and its many sequels making up the Ring of Fire series a.k.a. the 1632 series.

In the spring of 2000, a small West Virginia mining town is taken back in time — land, people, resources and all — to central Germany in the middle of the Thirty Years' War. Mike Stearns, a miner and head of the local coal miner's union, convinces the townsfolk to open up, expand, and build a new society based on living up to the high ideals the US has always claimed to represent. Quickly realizing that they are screwed if they don't get some support — the local armies outnumber them by a considerable margin and are much more experienced in the ways of killing things — the people of Grantville ally themselves with the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf, also known as Gustavus Adolphus.

Unfortunately, the arrival of Grantville upsets the balance of power that Cardinal Richelieu, First Minister to King Louis XIII of France and the de facto leader of France, has worked so hard to engineer. A brilliant strategist, Richelieu quickly realizes the importance of the event termed the Ring of Fire and the implications of the historical and technical manuals found in Grantville's library and quickly sets about seeking to block Grantville's influence and using the knowledge of the future to make France the supreme power in the world.

Most of the novels in this series are collaborations, often drawn from the large pool of officially canon short stories written by other authors found in the Grantville Gazette.

The books may be purchased at the series page on Baen Ebooks. The first edition of the first book may be read for free here.note 

    List of Published Works 
  • 1632
  • 1633, with David Weber
  • 1634: The Galileo Affair, with Andrew Dennis
  • 1634: The Ram Rebellion (structured short story collection)
  • 1634: The Baltic War, with David Weber
  • 1634: The Bavarian Crisis, with Virginia DeMarce
  • 1635: The Cannon Law, with Andrew Dennis
  • 1635: The Dreeson Incident, with Virginia DeMarce
  • 1635: The Tangled Web, by Virginia DeMarce (structured short story collection)
  • 1635: The Eastern Front
  • 1636: The Saxon Uprising
  • 1636: The Kremlin Games, with Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett
  • 1635: The Papal Stakes, with Charles Gannon
  • 1636: The Devil's Opera, with David Carrico
  • 1636: Seas of Fortune, by Iver P. Cooper (two unrelated novellas published in one volume)
  • 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies, with Charles Gannon
  • 1636: The Viennese Waltz, with Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett
  • 1636: The Cardinal Virtues, with Walter H. Hunt
  • 1635: A Parcel of Rogues, with Andrew Dennis
  • 1636: The Chronicles of Doctor Gribbleflotz by Kerryn Offord and Rick Boatright (structured short story collection)
  • 1635: The Wars for the Rhine by Anette Pedersen
  • 1636: The Atlantic Encounter, with Walter H. Hunt
  • 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught
  • 1636: Mission to the Mughals, with Griffin Barber
  • 1637: The Volga Rules with Paula Goodlett
  • 1637: The Polish Maelstrom
  • 1636: The China Venture, with Iven P. Cooper
  • 1636: Calabar's War, by Charles E. Gannon and Robert E. Waters
  • 1637: The Vatican Sanction, with Charles Gannon
  • 1637: No Peace Beyond The Line, with Charles Gannon
  • 1637: The Coast of Chaos, with Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett
  • 1637: The Peacock Throne, with Griffin Barber
  • Ring of Fire collections of important short stories
    • Ring of Fire
    • Ring of Fire II
    • Ring of Fire III
    • Ring of Fire IV
  • Grantville Gazette collections of less relevant but still canon short stories. As of November 2015 there are 62 electronic issues (numbered with Arabic numerals) and 7 print collections (numbered with Roman numerals) — starting with V, the paper editions have been best-of collections rather than straight reprints of the electronic version.
  • There are also multiple eBook collections which are composed of selected Grantville Gazette and/or Ring of Fire short stories that are about a common theme of some sort.

1632 provides examples of:

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    Tropes A to C 
  • Accidental Hero: Puss Trelli, the protagonist of several Grantville Gazette short stories and the novel I Want to Be your Hero, first becomes a hero by accident. During a rabid dog's rampage, he freezes in terror, but by doing so, he inadvertently gets between the dog and several children, saving their lives and causing him to become a Propaganda Hero. He goes on to accomplish several genuine feats of heroism as a battlefield soldier and MP in the following months.
  • Action Girl: Julie Mackay (née Sims), sniper. Before the Ring of Fire, she was being seriously considered for the Olympic biathalon, and was training up for it when Grantville shifted in time.
  • Actually, I Am Him: In "A Witch to Live", a short story by Walt Boyes in Ring of Fire, when Father Friedrich Spee is sent to defend a young woman from a false accusation of witchcraft, he finds her case being retried by the Trapped in the Past modern Americans — and himself sitting in the rectory when Father Mazzare, the American priest, gets out an encyclopedia to look up the name of the great heroic opponent of witchcraft in the 1630s ... Father Friedrich Von Spee.
  • Alien Space Bats: The Assiti, a race of solipsistic artists. While Grantville was an accident caused by a "shard" of one of their space-time "sculptures," the side-story novel Time Spike suggests they have since started aiming Shards at Earth to see what happens.
  • All There in the Manual: Much of the background information in the stories can be found discussed on the official Baen forums and the 1632 Editorial board web site.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Hilariously subverted. It's not the fact that she's a bubbly cheerleader that attracts Alexander Mackay to Julie Sims — it's the fact that she can drop enemy soldiers like flies from 500 yards. The pom-poms are a bonus. The trope is also subverted in 1635: The Dreeson Incident, where Ron Stone falls in love with Missy Jenkins (whom his older brother Frank had at one point unsuccessfully courted); while Missy had indeed been a cheerleader in high school, she doesn't have a cheerleader's stereotypical looks (though she's pretty), and since the Ring of Fire, she's in fact become a more-or-less classic bookish librarian.
  • Alliterative Name: Melissa Mailey, Wilhelm Wettin, Buster Beasley.
  • All-Loving Hero: Tom Stone is mentioned as extremely, almost unbelievably nice due to his hippie history. He also mass produces medicine which he sells at cost (as he puts it, he refuses to profit from another's pain);note  something which some uptimers, his downtimer wife, and his father-in-law find impractical. However, his generosity has made him extremely popular with the downtime poor and sickly — so much so that it is mentioned that a town is petitioning the pope to have him declared a saint. However, Father later Cardinal Mazzare noted that the canonization is highly unlikely to go through. Stoner, while definitely virtuous enough to be considered a saint, fails three key criteria: he isn't dead, he has no miracles to his name, and he isn't any denomination of Christian, much less Catholic.
  • Alternate History: The arrival of a modern West Virginia coal town in the middle of Germany during the Thirty Years War changes quite a few things.
  • Alternate Universe: This is the general explanation given for where Grantville was transported to. Mostly this is so that the characters' brains don't explode trying to wrap their heads around the various paradoxes involved with time travel.
  • Always Someone Better: The great artists and composers of the 17th century are all facing this, and the someones better are themselves from ten to fifteen years uptime. Thus they (Rubens is the only example who is a focus character in any of the novels, but he's hardly the only example out there) find their works overshadowed by the masterpieces they haven't done yet, and have to figure out how to rework their careers as a result.
    How does an artist paint something he has already painted? Without the master becoming his own apprentice? Ending a life full of triumphs as if he were nothing more than an understudy?
  • Ambadassador:
    • Mike Stearns and Rebecca.
    • In negotiating vassalship with Gustavus Adolphus the problem arises that the US has to forbid establishment of religion whereas Gustavus' status as King demands it. Rebecca arranges for Gustavus to be the Feudal Overlord with the title of "hereditary captain-general", because that way when he is not a King he can be more flexible.
  • America Saves the Day: Played with. The Americans do engage in a bit of day-saving, but the downtime Germans who've adopted American principles, ideals, and knowledge do plenty of it themselves. Plus, in later books, the Americans get occasionally one-upped. As a cases in point: In 1634: The Baltic War, Marshal Turenne's researchers crack a critical problem that had led the uptimers to believe that a certain form of ammunition was unfeasible to produce with the industrial base they had available. Also, in 1635: The Papal Stakes, a Spanish spymaster working for Cardinal Borja is able to (temporarily) stymie commando Harry Lefferts by outthinking Harry and anticipating his actions.
    • Almost entirely defied in 1636: Mission to the Mughals. Most of the technological improvements brought by the mission are already known to the Mughals downtime or are not viable, and the physicians are surprised to see that the Indian physicians are better at surgery than they are (though not as good at preventing infection). The American Mission only provides uptime assistance at two points- during the birth of Shah Jahan's grandson and during the climactic battle for the harem. All of the action and intrigue is driven by the court of Shah Jahan.
  • Anachronic Order: While the years that are part of the title of every book provide some order, the fact that the books can be about a wide variety of events taking place all over a continent mean that a strict chronological ordering of the books is impossible. There are books that start before and end after other books set in that year (And in some books, the year indicates when the novel ends, with most of the action taking place in earlier years), and in which the only connection between the two books is one page in which characters discuss the key events of the other book when they find out about them, if that. To help readers who may be feeling overwhelmed, Eric Flint provides an afterword in several of the more recent novels and short-story collections giving a recommended order in which to read the works in the series.
  • Anti-Villain:
    • Cardinal Richelieu, a rather nice and enlightened individual for the time period who regrets the way circumstances have forced him to become Grantville's enemy. Flint commented in an article that he could easily envision a story in which Richelieu was one of the good guys, but he needed a smart adversary. Richelieu himself even laments at one point that history in this new timeline will see him as a villain, more so perhaps than in the old timeline, but that he must do what he sees as necessary for the betterment of France regardless of his high admiration for the Americans, the ideals, and their creativity.
    • In The Eastern Front, the narrative points out that while Poland may not be as socially progressive as Sweden let alone the USE at large, the Poles are justified in fighting back against the forces of a foreign monarch who's already invaded them twice.
    • Likewise in The Kremlin Games, one Russian leader is arguing with an uptime American and mentions that the United States of Europe isn't that different, when you compare the military ambitions of its leader, from Nazi Germany. The primary differences, the leader notes, is that unlike the Germans under Adolf Hitler, the Swedes under Gustav Adolph know how to successfully prosecute a war during the winter, and thus are an even bigger threat to the Russians than the Nazis were.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Even the most religious uptimers generally believe the Ring of Fire to be a natural — although extraordinary — event. In-Universe, many downtimers find this quite astonishing, given that it seems as dramatic a miracle as the parting of the Red Sea.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil:
    • Sometimes upheld — this is the Thirty Years' War. However, often subverted, as many — from Gustav Adolf on down — are portrayed as quite decent people, even if they hold notions of class and human rights which are normal for the day but repugnant to uptimer sensibilities. (A key theme running through the series is that people and issues are much more complex, close-up and on the scene, than can be seen at the remove of several centuries.)
    • Upheld, at least to some extent, in the novels 1635: The Eastern Front and 1636: The Saxon Uprising with Axel Oxenstierna and the other reactionary nobles who attempt to launch a coup during Gustav Adolf's incapacity. The leader, at least, is — as befits the pattern of the 1632verse — a more complex, indeed tragic case, as he honestly believes, or at least has talked himself into honestly believing, that he is protecting his old friend while ignoring that his actions are downright opposed to what the king would actually want. See Well-Intentioned Extremist below.
    • Soundly mocked in 1636: The Kremlin Games, when a Russian knyaz laughs at the up-timer assumption that all Russian nobles are, automatically, supporters of serfdom and slavery. In reality, the big supporters of slavery are petty nobility and non-noble landowners, whose only assets are land and laborers, whereas the cash-rich high nobility are generally neutral or slightly leaning pro-abolition.
  • Armies Are Evil: Except the Grantville/US army and to some degree the Swedish, whose OTL malignant activities are tempered by uptime techniques and policies — including, in 1635: The Eastern Front, enforcement at gunpoint of the rules against rape and pillage. This is after all the Thirty Years' War, where atrocities were committed by many armies in the historical conflict. Doesn't help that most nations use mercenaries and other unsavory types that usually get their money and supplies by raiding the locals, even their own people
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • A character expresses his ambivalence over Wallenstein's offer to join the uptimers' side by presenting brutal action after brutal action Wallenstein ordered. After a downtimer counters each point and points out that, compared to most other nobles of the era, Wallenstein is actually a lesser evil, the uptimer finally mumbles out "They say he believes in astrology."
    • Jeff Higgins explains the reasons he thinks the future time Grantville was from was no safer than the seventeenth century. In order, these are: thermonuclear weapons, biological and chemical weapons, the Ebola virus, overpopulation, food additives, and automated phone systems.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership:
    • The greatest princes in Europe do not negotiate with the leader of a band of miners because of his impeccable lineage.
    • Many leaders of the time were so because of their ability to kick ass, and stay there by continuing to do so.
  • A-Team Firing: Noelle Murphy (later Stull) is famous for this. For example, in 1634: The Ram Rebellion, when she misses a stationary target carefully aimed at from less than seven feet away. (She doesn't let that stop her from acts of aggravated badassery, though.) The only time she manages to hit what she's aiming for is when firing from a bridge... when firing down at the river itself.
  • Attack Pattern Alpha: In 1634: The Baltic War, the only response Admiral Simpson needs to make to a threat by the Dane's ambush with a flotilla of torpedo boats attacking under cover of thick smoke is to pass the following order to his captain: "Have Ajax take the lead, then Achilles. The ironclads will follow behind them, and the squadron will assume Formation Charlie on a heading of zero-niner-five."
  • Author Catchphrase: Certain turns of phrase that Eric Flint likes using in other works tend to show up in this series as well, some particularly common ones being "butter wouldn't melt in his/her mouth" and "[insert adjective here] as you please."
  • Author Filibuster: A couple. Jeff's courtship/marriage to Gretchen is just one spot where the narrator takes a step back to pontificate...
  • Author Tract:
    • Almost no down-timers appreciate rock and roll music. Lots of down-timer country music fans. Lots of down-time folk music fans. There are down-timer fans of jazz. And it goes without saying that opera and orchestral music are beloved. But... no down-timer fans of rock and roll. Not even relatively "light" rock and roll like the early Beatles. And the less said about the reaction to rap music the better. Coincidentally, these views happen to mirror the musical tastes of Eric Flint almost precisely. That having been said, Flint's antipathy toward rock and roll isn't shared by a number of his contributing authors, as further detailed in the A Little Something We Call "Rock and Roll" entry.
    • Virginia DeMarce is a professional genealogist. A lot of the books and stories in the series written by her feature paragraph after paragraph after paragraph of long, involved detail regarding just how one person is related to another, and what the implications are to a third. Because of this, at least a couple of her works seem to be more character study than plotted stories.
    • Flint has admitted that he writes his Spaniards and French as Stupid Evil Moustache Twirling Villains because he thinks it funnier.
    • Flint is on record (in the course of various discussions in the "Baen's Bar" forums and elsewhere) that he believes politically-motivated assassinations are not only generally ineffective in the long run, but often have a tendency to backfire, even when the target is successfully taken out. He expresses this concept in several novels in the series, for instance, in 1635: The Dreeson Incident, where several Grantville notables including the titular character, Mayor Henry Dreeson are assassinated, which triggers - contrary to the assassins' intentions - a bloody purge of anti-Semites across the USE, and also in 1636: The Vatican Sanction, in which assassins working at the behest of the usurper Borja try to murder Pope Urban VII; they eventually - completely by accident, after the original plot has been wrecked - succeed, but instead of destroying Borja's opppsition, Urban's handpicked successor is none other than Cardinal Alfonso Bedmar, Ruy Sanchez's old employer, friend...and superior officer! Bedmar turns out to have been a senior Spanish general prior to taking holy orders, which makes him, in many ways, especially well-fitted to carry on the fight against Borja.
  • Awakening the Sleeping Giant: The greatest power in 17th century Europe has yet to enter the fray: The Ottoman Empire is in the early 17th century still at the peak of its military and economic power, with a very advanced technology for its time, and while the official stance of the regime is that the Ring of Fire did not happen, its spies and engineers are already reverse engineering the best that Grantville has to offer. This might count as a subversion as the giant is already awake and just staying on the sidelines, until the end of 1636: The Saxon Uprising. The Ottomans are massing forces in their Balkan territories for an invasion of Austria. In The Ottoman Uprising Murad's armies successfully take Vienna before a combined alliance of Austria, Bohemia and the USE stops his advance, and by book's end Murad hasn't been defeated, just kept from seizing more territory. In the follow-up, The Polish Maelstrom, the Ottomans continue the siege of Linz, where the Austrians and their allies, led by Gustav Adolf, have forted up, as Mike Stearns works on securing allies in the Levant.
  • Awesomeness-Induced Amnesia: In 1634: The Galileo Affair, Father Mazzare is tasked with speaking in defense of Galileo, at his trial for heresy. The speech isn't explicitly mentioned, but afterward he's congratulated for what he said. However, in a bit of a daze afterwards, he mentally mentions that he doesn't know what he actually did say in Galileo's defense.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier: In the 20th century they left behind, the coal trucks were just fit for that. In the 17th century, where the few weapons that can hit that are incapable of penetrating it? They become the best troop carriers you could find.
    • Despite being faster and tougher than horses, certain weather and environments would hamper them more than horses. One APC got stuck in the mud and was stolen by the Poles
  • Badass Biker: Buster Beasley is the spitting image of a "Hell's Angel" biker, though without the criminal attitude. In 1635: The Dreeson Incident, he wades into a (manufactured) crowd of rioters and takes out several handfuls before he's overwhelmed by their numbers.
  • Badass Bookworm: Jeff at the start of the series isn't all that martial in general, but as it progresses his skills and reputation build as a soldier, to the point where in some circles he's almost as well known as his rabble-rousing wife Gretchen. By the time the war with the Ottomans begins, he's the colonel of one of the toughest, most highly regarded regiments in the best division in the USE Army, General Mike Stearns' Third Division.
  • Badass Boast: from the first novel:
    This area is now under the protection of the UMWA. If you try to harm or rob anybody we will kill you. There will be no further warning. We will not negotiate. We will not arrest you. You will simply be dead. We guarantee it. Go ahead. Try us.
  • BFG: Oh, more then a few examples. Let's start with the German love affair with shotguns. Actually, everyone loves shotguns.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill:
    • In 1634: The Galileo Affair, Captain Lennox and his company manage to work their way into the church where Galileo's trial was being held by pretending to be a Polish delegation, based solely on the Horse Marines being in full dress uniform and exactly one of the group of a half-dozen — Father Gus Heinzerling, a German Jesuit — actually able to speak Polish.
    • Subverted in the direct sequel, 1635: The Cannon Law. Ruy Sanchez tells several Spanish soldiers that he is a captain in the Spanish army, and gets valuable information from them. The Americans think he's pulled a Bavarian Fire Drill, until Sharon informs them that Ruy really is a captain in the Spanish army; he never resigned or sold his commission. He left out the part where he's working for the Americans, though.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Quite a few uptimers end up inadvertently earning the Undying Loyalty of downtimers all because they treated them with common courtesy most people don't even comment upon in the modern age but is seen as extraordinarily magnanimous in the 1600s.
    • Specific examples include Hilde, Mary Simpson's maid, and Johan, David Bartley's bodyguard assistant from the Sewing Circle and Barbie Consortium stories. Food, clothes and shelter provided to war refugees by the uptimers were seen as extreme luxuries, and attaching yourself to a protector or patron was seen as the normal response at the time.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Major General Mike Stearns is generally a very easygoing sort of commander. However, do NOT commit atrocities against civilians if you are under his command, otherwise, you will end up having a date with a volley-gun firing squad!
    • Gustavus Adolphus is extremely sensitive about his poor eyesight, to the point where his bodyguards cringe when Julie suggests that he should get glasses.
    • Do not suggest in front of James Nichols that the rest of Europe should be left to fend for itself regarding antibiotics and sanitation that help ward off diseases like the Bubonic Plague. Goodbye smiley, affable Combat Medic, hello Scary Black Man ex-Marine Chicago ghetto street thug. It's noted in 1633 as the only time since the Ring of Fire that James Nichols has ever lost his temper.
  • Beta Couple: James and Melissa in 1632. They're the only pairing in the novel that gets together without a hint of trial, trouble, or tribulation, and nothing ever seems to ruffle them for long.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • The Americans, especially when they run into the farm house being ransacked by German mercenaries shortly after their arrival.
    • Jeff Higgins and his three friends facing down an entire mercenary company with shotguns. After having just charged up on motocross bikes. Shortly followed by mine-haulers-turned-APCs charging to Jeff's rescue. Which they need badly, because four guys with shotguns against a few hundred mercenaries with pikes and muskets isn't likely to end well for the four guys.
    • Michael Stearns in 1634: The Baltic War rescues the escapees from the Tower of London, escaping down the Thames on a barge, with the "timberclad" he was in charge of having repaired, after an earlier mechanical failure.
    • Captain Gars and his cavalry taking on the Croat skirmishers at the Grantville High School, as well as Julie Sims doing her "Angel of Death" routine to keep Gars alive during the same battle, in 1632.
    • The American Embassy to Mughal India storms the harem and fights off the fanatics attacking the royal family alongside the eunuch guards.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Gretchen and Hans, especially Gretchen who has a very big slice of Knight Templar Big Sister.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Sprinkled through the books. A minor character in 1634: The Bavarian Crisis is called Michel l'Esclavon, duc d'Espehar, marquis de Choses-sans-Valeur, vicomte de Lavion, seigneur de l'Haleur, chevalier Sanscourage de Contre-Ours,which, in English, comes to Michael the Slavic, Duke of Hope, Marquis of Things-without-Value, Viscount of the Airplane, Lord of Haulers, knight Without Courage of Opposing Bears.
  • Bling of War: The USE uniforms tend to look plain next to those of other countries. One high-ranking Polish character's uniform includes leopard skins. The USE armed forces make some concessions to the spirit of the times, though. For instance, army officers' epaulets are much more akin to the gaudy ones of the Napoleonic era than the plain shoulder straps of the Civil War era on which said uniforms are otherwise based; also, in 1636: The Saxon Uprising, Rebecca Stearns orders up extremely fancy dress uniforms for the USE Marines detailed to guard Crown Princess Kristina in Magdeburg as a way of boosting morale and a psychological maneuver against the reactionary forces.
  • Body Double: Maria Anna considers switching places with her maid as part of her plan to escape her marriage to Maximillian. This quickly gets discarded as she considers the two women in her household she is trusting with her plans - one of them is thirty years older than she is, and the other is a good eight inches too short to convincingly take her place.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Gustavus Adolphus, apparently he was like this in Real Life too. And he ain't the only one in the series.
  • Boom Town:
    • Grantville becomes this. Like many small, rural towns dominated by one industry, it was shrinking and withering during the 1980s and 1990s... until the Ring of Fire. The town suddenly found itself the most high-tech place in the world and its population mushroomed with refugees. Inhabitants have tried to maintain building codes and labor standards for all the new construction and industry, but the fact that they haven't always succeeded has been a plot point more than once (e.g., in the short story "Hell Fighters", which appears in one of the Grantville Gazette compilations). Later in the series the importance of Grantville fades after the formation of the USE, but it's still a reasonably large town by contemporary standards, and retains the technical and educational centers even after the capital of the State of Thuringia-Franconia is moved to Bamberg.
    • Magdeburg is a boom town in a way as well. It's not new, but historically, the city was almost completely massacred during the war (before which it was a major city), but in the new timeline of the story it is being turned into the capital of the United States of Europe, making it much larger than it was and making it one of the most high-tech cities in Europe, after Grantville itself.
    • With the onset of the civil war, Czar Mikhail has built Ufa into a city rivaling that of old Moscow. A steady stream of runaway serfs and defectors along with more modern city planning and technologies has made the city big and prosperous
  • Born in the Wrong Century: How well many of the uptimers adapt to the past is a recurring theme, but the best example is probably Harry Lefferts. In the orderly and civilized 20th century, he couldn't amount to much more than a small-town, blue collar worker, constantly in trouble with the law. In the rough and tumble 17th century, his skills at fighting, scheming and carousing are actually valued, and he finds the new setting far more to his liking.
  • Bothering by the Book: In the treaty with Gustavus Adolphus it is arranged that Gustavus will be declared "hereditary captain-general" (whatever that quite means to be interpreted as convenient) over the USE because a king rules by divine right; he doesn't have to persecute but he does have to at least enforce established religion and the Americans consider that unacceptable. An "hereditary captain-general", on the other hand, is bound by no such constraints.
  • Bowel-Breaking Bricks: Proving that memes can transcend time, The Cannon Law has Don Francisco Nasi make this observation regarding the very Protestant Gustavus Adolphus's possible reaction to Mike Stearns's decision to approve political sanctuary for Pope Urban VIII and his clan. His wording makes it extra hilarious.
    Don Francisco Nasi: ... I think State will be responsible for the brick that will be found, come the morning, in the privy of Gustavus Adolphus."
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: Before the Ring, Tom "Stoner" Stone was a survivor of the last wave of hippie-ism. In the new world, Stoner, as one of the few in town educated in industrial chemistry, becomes one of the richest men in Europe — but remains completely and sincerely devoted to the hippie ideals of peace, love and understanding. This shows up as early as his introduction in the Ring of Fire short story "To Dye For": he adamantly refuses to charge people more for his medicines than he spent making them, and therefore chooses to make his money solely from other ventures, most prominently clothing dyes. Even after the dye works have made him fabulously rich, he and his family live fairly modestly, reinvesting most of their income back into their business.
  • Brainless Beauty: The vain, status-obsessed Countess Polyxena in The Bavarian Crisis. This gets her killed, because nobody trusts her with anything important and she's left out of Maria Anna's escape plan; Dona Mencia even uses her to frame Frau Stecher.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Hans and Gretchen.
  • Bus Crash: Jenny and Otto from the Gazette story "Jenny and the King's Men" die off-page in A Parcel of Rogues of dysentery and blood poisoning, respectively. Also, the events of the story are downplayed (with multiple characters emphasizing that the "king's men" weren't the king's men) and used as trumped-up anti-Catholic propaganda by Ducos.
  • But I Would Really Enjoy It: Missy Jenkins flatly refuses to sleep with Ron Stone because downtime birth control is questionably effective at best, and she's not at all into the whole "babies before marriage" thing. Which does not stop them from snogging each other — and a bit more than that — at every conceivable opportunity, including one notable incident involving a snowbank. This being an Eric Flint series, by the end of the novel, the two are engaged.
  • Cargo Cult: A battery-powered, light-up Buddha knicknack makes its way to the current Dalai Lama via trade. It causes a considerable stir in the Dalai Lama, especially since the description of Grantville (a town from somewhere else manifesting within a perfect circle) matches the Tibetan Buddhist descriptions of the Kingdom of Shambala (an otherwordly realm in the form of a Mandala/Circle).
  • Cast Herd: Intentional — Flint wanted to avoid the "Great Man" theory of history and used as many characters as reasonable in the original novel. Add in the size of the series and it's shared universe nature and this trope just goes crazy. Though Flint does admit that there are moments when a Great Man can change the course of history, naming Gustav Adolphus' actions at Breitenfeld as an example, he just doesn't think that all events that shape history are like that.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Every time Rebecca gets bemused or horrified by the uptimers she's gotten close to she says, "Hillbillies! You have no respect!"
    • Gretchen's is "What a scandal!", almost always in reference to Jeff — her husband — checking out her truly magnificent bosom.
  • Cavalry Officer: Mackay. Captain Gars (a.k.a. Gustavus Adolphus).
  • Cerebus Retcon: Played with in Mrs. Flannery's Flowers and its treatment of the events in "Between the Armies." Played straight when the title character is revealed to have a dark past behind her fanatical devotion to her garden, her Slut-Shaming of Hannelore Heinzerling, and her refusal to evacuate her house during the Croat attack (she was seduced by a "talent scout" as a teenager and subsequently got an abortion, another child was stillborn, and her roses are planted in their memory). Then inverted regarding the end of her life—she stopped tending the church after Hannelore's arrival not because she felt alienated and rejected but because it was a good pretext to retire, and the closest person she had to a friend assures Father Mazzare that her Lonely Funeral was just the way she would have wanted it.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Literally. One of the miners brings a sawed-off shotgun to the first battle but is convinced to swap it for a more useful weapon. In the first book's climax Rebecca uses the same shotgun in defense and to fight off the invading Croats until help arrives.
    • Another literal example is with the .40 Heckler & Koch USP semiautomatic pistol given to Gustavus Adolphus' personal bodyguard in 1633. In the later novel The Eastern Front the bodyguard and the pistol play a prominent role, saving an unconscious Gustavus from being killed by Polish hussars at the cost of the bodyguard's life.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Some seemingly minor characters introduced in earlier novels end up as major point-of-view characters in the later ones. In 1632, a prostitute in Jena mentions a student named Joachim who's nice to her and interested in politics. In 1633, Joachim von Thierbach is one of the leaders of the Committees of Correspondence and estranged from his aristocratic parents because he intends to marry a prostitute.
  • The Chessmaster: Cardinal Richelieu was a master manipulator in the original timeline, but uptime history knowledge allows him to hone his craft. Mike Stearns also develops increasing inclinations toward this over the course of the series, and engages in some self-reflection over this in 1635: The Eastern Front, worried that the Machiavellian actions he's having to take to achieve the uptimers' objectives of bringing liberty and justice to Europe could eventually end up eroding his conscience beyond repair.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Ruy Sanchez, the 55 year old "gentleman" from the Spanish Netherlands' Embassy in Venice, lives on this trope. He is dogged in his courtship of Sharon and she even jokes that he "has the sex drive of a goat." He's been married multiple times and while his prior wives all met their ends before him, Ruy was faithful to them while they lived (and put several men in the ground when they slandered these women).
  • City of Spies: Grantsville naturally becomes this as everyone in Europe wants to know about Grantsville and what everyone else knows about it.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Julie Sims gives Gustav Adolf a hunting rifle to examine, he is suitably impressed, but thinks that the scope is marred because of the crosshairs obstructing his vision.
  • Commune: Tom is the last remaining member of Lothlorien Commune, as he continues to style his home. The others drifted off over the years, leaving him with the property and three young boys to raise. Given their lifestyle, Tom's uncertain which of the boys he actually sired, but considers them all his sons, nonetheless.
  • Composite Character: It is noted that in-universe, the legendary popular retelling of Gretchen's "origin story" eventually mixed together the roles of her rapist Ludwig (who died in the battle), and the other brute, Diego, whom she killed to protect her sister.
  • Consummate Professional: In 1634: The Bavarian Crisis, Captain Raudegen, a soldier serving in the Bavarian military, is tasked with chasing down those who fled the duke, following two of them he spotted, even after he changes his allegiance from Bavaria to Duke Bernard, a foe of Bavaria. Toward the end of the novel, the two escapees meet the captain (now a Colonel) again shortly after finally losing him, when he's assigned to escort the group the two are with instead of hunt them down. One looks suspiciously at the colonel after realizing he's the one that's been chasing them, but the colonel replies "I'm a professional, boy. [...] When [Duke Bernard] says capture her, I try to capture her. When he says protect her, I use everything I know to protect her. Not just until your relative from Lyons joins her. All the way to Brussels," later adding that he's against cruelty for its own sake (though cruelty to gain information is perfectly reasonable to him, as demonstrated with his treatment of a blacksmith he thought had lied to him earlier).
  • Continuity Lockout: An unfortunate side effect of Flint's decision to allow fans to submit their own stories about the setting, to be made canon. Even if you read every book in order (and determining what the proper order to read them in is a difficult task, as the time frame of many of the books overlap), there's still the odd reference to these stories. Luckily, the ones with the biggest impact on the main books are collected in their own "Ring of Fire" volumes, but some of the books still have characters originally introduced and developed in the Gazette short stories as major characters.
  • Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story: People in Jena note that every single person that Doctor Gribbleflotz claimed to have studied under lived far from Jena and has been dead for at least a decade, accusing him of being a fraud. He actually did study under all of those people, though his doctorate was originally fictitious (people started addressing him as doctor when calling him on his services, and after a while he stopped correcting them. But since the rivals of his mentors kept driving him out of town whenever his latest mentor died, he never officially completed his degree).
  • Converting for Love: Invoked by the title character of "Pastor Kastenmayer's Revenge." After his daughter elopes with a Catholic up-timer, the Lutheran Pastor Kastenmayer seeks his "revenge" by encouraging the women of a destroyed village to catch the attention of up-timer men without religion and get them to convert to Lutheranism as a condition of marriage.
  • Cool Horse: Morris Roth borrows one in "The Wallenstein Gambit". Then buys it, because it's just so darned cool.
  • Cooperation Gambit: One of the main strategies adopted by Mike Stearns. He's convinced that the spread of science and technology will ultimately benefit them, so freely shares most of their knowledge. For example, he gives their enemies instructions for making antibiotics. Not only will this limit the spread of plagues, but making use of it will require their enemies to build a chemical industry (which will encourage trade with the USE) and create an educated workforce (which may be more inclined to accept democracy). Notably, their enemies recognize exactly what Stearns is doing, but also realize that the medicines are too valuable to pass up.
    • Stearns also directly advises his political rival Wilhelm Wettin in how to build an effective political party that could rival his own. He knows full well that a strong opposition party is necessary for a real democracy, and wants an opponent he knows is honest and honorable.
  • *Cough* Snark *Cough*: A lovely example of the disbelieving cough occurs in 1632, when the Scots cavalrymen who don't yet fully grasp what late-20th-Century firepower can do are stunned that the Americans want them to be ready to pursue an enemy force.
    Pursuit? Cough, cough. Doesn't that, ahem, presuppose that you've already defeated the enemy?
  • Covers Always Lie: Several of the cover illustrations for the series have accuracy problems, but the one for 1634: The Baltic War is particularly egregious. It depicts a U.S.E. Navy ironclad blasting Swedish warships out of the water, when, in reality, the U.S.E. and Sweden are not only closely allied, but share the same sovereign.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: When Mike Stearns is serving as a general, his tactic of attacking during a blizzard turns out to be this. It is something no conventional general would have attempted, and as the battle progresses we see why. Communication becomes impossible even with radio (which does no good if you don't know where you are), units become lost, and there are almost several major instances of friendly fire. Throughout the battle, all he can think is "Whose idiot idea was it to attack during a snowstorm anyway?" On the other hand, in the end it is successful because, while both sides are at a huge disadvantage, Mike's troops have superior discipline and better winter equipment with which to adapt.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Apparently there are some advantages to being a redneck town in which everyone owns a gun.
  • Creepy Good: In The Eastern Front, Mike Stearns is starting to fear that his troops will fall into the standard habits of the Thirty Years' War. So when one of the units slaughters a small village, he first uses volley guns to execute the perpetrators, then commissions a regiment with Jeff Higgins as its head (and the volley guns as its artillery) as military police. The latter unit is then deliberately sent first into the next town being stormed because Mike knows perfectly well that soldiers automatically hate MPs but will at least respect them if they think them to be badass. The symbol of the new regiment is a hangman's noose.
  • Creepy Souvenir: In 1633, Gunther Achterhof of the Magdeburg Committee of Correspondence was said to carry around the ears, noses, and private parts of two soldiers he had killed before joining the CoC, in revenge for the killing of his family by an army passing through the area.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Occurs whenever the Americans get enough technology into the field.
    • In the Battle of the Crapper in 1632, a small unit of a couple hundred uptimers working with a downtime Swedish cavalry unit absolutely obliterate a tercio with thousands of hardened, veteran soldiers.
    • The Baltic War has three, two of them involving American ironclads, and the Battle of Ahrensbök, lifting the siege of Luebeck, though arguably the last was more due to General Failure on the part of the "League of Ostend", particularly French forces.
    • The Battle of Hamburg was even more one-sided. To drive the point home how powerful ironclads are, Admiral Simpson lets the Hamburg forces fire for ten minutes before returning fire... with explosive shells. At the end of the day, the ironclads are undamaged, and Hamburg's vaunted fortifications have been... well, turned into Hamburger.

    Tropes D to H 
  • Dashing Hispanic:
    • Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz embodies this one, a suave, witty swordsman who bests opponents easily half of his sixty-something years of age. One character theorizes that he was the basis for Inigo Montoya.
    • Don Fernando, King in the Netherlands (formerly the Cardinal-Infante of the Spanish Netherlands) of The Bavarian Crisis flew into a battlefield to rescue his beloved Maria Anna from what could have been a three-way pile up of Duke Bernard of Saxe-Weimar, Maximilian I of Bavaria, and the city fathers of Basel.
  • Decadent Court: The court of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan is a den of plots, counterplots, spies, poisonings, and murder. And that's just inside the harem!
  • Deadpan Snarker: A few have turned up, from time to time.
    • Monsignor Giulio Mazarini, as portrayed in "Between the Armies" from the first Ring of Fire anthology. Unsurprisingly, as he is a diplomat by trade.
    • By the time of 1636: The Saxon Uprising, Gretchen Richter has developed a wit so dry that, well...
      Gretchen Richter: Why in the world would we [erect a guillotine], when we've got plenty of stout German axes at hand? We're not French sissies.
      Friedrich Nagel: I ... think that was a joke.
      Eric Krenz: With Gretchen, who knows? But we'll take that as our working hypothesis.
    • Kniaz Vladimir Gorchakov of Muscovy (Russia) from 1636: The Kremlin Games.
      Vladimir: I see a problem. No one is going to be all that surprised that you happened to be visiting your cousin while I came seeing about a loan ... once. But if we keep meeting like this, what will it do to my reputation as a titled nonentity? People might stop talking to me. That would be a disaster for me and inconvenient for you.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Oliver Cromwell's son Richard, who originally succeeded him as Lord Protector and lived into the eighteenth century, is murdered as a child when Charles I targets his father.
    • The queens of England and Sweden, who long outlived their husbands in the original timeline, are killed much earlier in this one, Henrietta Maria in a carriage crash and Maria Eleonora by an assassin.
  • December–December Romance:
    • Grantville Mayor Henry Dreeson and Hans and Gretchen Richter's grandmother Veronica.
    • Dr. James Nichols and the local history teacher, Melissa Mailey.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: Common practice in the 17th century, when defeated armies (and nations) would commonly join forces with the winners. A dramatic example when Prince Ulrik, despite losing the Battle of Copenhagen, manages to strike some powerful blows against a highly superior force. Admiral Simpson is upset at the losses, but grudgingly respects his tactics and bravery. In later books, Ulrik becomes one of the USE's chief allies.
  • Deliberately Bad Example: The way John Simpson is used in the mass meeting in Grantville in 1632, where the time-displaced Americans for the first time gets to know what has happened and what they will do about it. Basically, he was used to set up one way to react that Stearns could target, and thus quickly be established as the leader. Written that way simply as a halfway realistic way to avoid lots of tedious discussion and drawn-out wrangling. Later in the series, Simpson got more screentime and lots more nuance.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • The Truth in Television conditions of the Thirty Years' War are beyond horrible to the point that giving no quarter to defeated enemies and rape are unworthy of note by most of the "down-timers." As a consequence, the Americans essentially sort captured mercenaries into the camp of ordinary guys going along with the Crapsack World who should be given another chance and villains who are exiled under pain of death. Most mercenaries fall in the former camp; the near-certainty that most of them have done some variation of Rape, Pillage, and Burn that would have them shot or hanged in any modern army is overlooked.
    • The Americans were initially so appalled at the general conduct of mercenaries that they leaned heavily towards just shooting everyone or using them as forced labor. On consideration of the scope this was deemed impractical and barbaric, in roughly that order.
    • Gretchen's introduction to the Americans at the Battle of the Crapper captures this perfectly. It's more of a shock to her that this new army does not rape camp followers and execute prisoners than most pieces of technology she observes. To say nothing of the lack of noble class structure where she would automatically rank as dirt or men caring about her emotions and pleasure.
    • Downtimers are surprised that Americans do not seek noble affectations and insist that they are provincial burghers when everyone can see they are nobles by virtue of their obvious wealth (by local standards). They also think that there is nothing shameful about a noble impregnating a commoner but there is in him marrying her instead of abandoning her. In fact they think Jeff was an insult to the nobility even though he had behaved in a perfectly upright manner—and had even waited until the wedding night to obtain his reward. They considered the dishonor to lie not in having relations with a desperate camp-girl but in refusing to discard her afterwards.
    • Downtimers and child raising. The way they use violence and the rod can (and has) come as quite a jarring shock to many uptimers, from the very beginning of the series; when she first meets Gretchen Richter, Melissa Mailey is - at first - horrified at the harsh methods Gretchen uses (specifically, sharp slaps to the head) to make the children under her care stop frenziedly feeding themselves to the point of dangerous surfeit. (This leads directly to a key viewpoint scene of Melissa's thoughts in which she fully takes in just how different the circumstances of war-devastated 1630's Germany are from those of peaceful end-of-20th-century America.) One of the downtimer protagonists wanted to study psychology — but without all the "nonsense of the downs of violence in children".
    • 1634: The Bavarian Crisis showed one of the most horrible realities of the war: enemies who torture/slaughter can not only go with impunity but become allies, as happened with Captain Raudegen after he crippled a blacksmith to get information regarding Maria Anna and Mary Simpson. Captain Raudegen is a special case, particularly unnerving, since until he tortured that blacksmith he came across as a highly admirable soldier — intelligent, observant, careful, professional in the best sense — who just happened to be on the other side — in short, a Worthy Opponent.
    • Gustavus Adolphus is at first shocked by the Americans targeting enemy generals, but he admits they have a point when the Americans point out that they bear more responsibility then the mooks and so it makes sense to target them.
    • The uptimer mission to Mughal India is genuinely shocked by the widespread use of slavery and the segregation of the sexes under purdah. The leadership takes umbrage when the Indians ask the women in the mission to wear veils but the women point out that fighting the requirements of purdah is not a battle they'll win, and will make their real mission of securing opium and saltpeter for the war effort that much harder.
    • There is a scene with an Austrian princess meditating over a wonderful performance of The Sound of Music she has just seen. She ponders just how "realistic" it was for the Baron to get into a morganatic marriage willy-nilly, but comes to the conclusion that the Baron had enough heirs from his first marriage that he could probably get away with it. Truth in Television as morganatic marriage (from the Latin phrase matrimonium ad morganaticam, originally referring to the gift given to the bride by the groom on the first day after the wedding), that is to say, marriage between persons of unequaly social rank, was - while common - frowned upon unless the husband had a living heir, or heirs, from his first marriage. In a historically recent example, also from Austria, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the ill-fated Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne, had tremendous difficulty securing the consent of his uncle Emperor Franz Joseph to his marriage to Countess Sophie Chotek (who, though a daughter of an ancient and excellent Bohemian aristocratic family, didn't qualify for marriage into the Habsburg clan under ancient and arcane rules) until he agreed to make the marriage morganatic; as he'd not been married before and thus had no living heirs, his children - he and Sophie eventually had two sons and a daughter - were therefore ineligible for succession to the throne.
  • Destination Defenestration: Wallenstein does this to Emperor Ferdinand's man in Prague, in a second attempt at the 1618 Defenestration of Prague, this time making sure there's no miraculous survivor as happened in the 1618 event.
  • Disease by Any Other Name: James Anthony Fritz, like his father, is all but stated to be autistic - socially withdrawn, sensitive to noise, and attached to routine.
  • Doorstopper: Several of the books top 600 pages.
  • Double Standard: The characters argue over whether women belong in their makeshift army. Early in the novel it is assumed, and completely unquestioned (even by the resident liberal feminist!) that the army will be composed entirely of males. Much later in the book, a few of the female characters decide that they don't like this double standard very much... But it is an uphill battle against some of the more traditional males.
  • Do Wrong, Right: In the novella The Austro-Hungarian Connection from the second Ring of Fire anthology, after a bit of hearing Denise Beasely's potty mouth and noticing her expression suggested she was expecting to be told to not use foul language (one of her pet peeves), Janos Drugeth mentally comments that his father would have taken her to task for it were he there to hear it. Not for the fact that a 16 year old girl was swearing, but because of Denise's "free verse" foulmouthing, the senior Drugeth believing in a more formalized approach to cursing.
  • Easy Logistics: Very deliberately averted. It's quickly clear to the Americans that supplying superior weapons is less important than being able to get troops, supplies and ammunition to the front lines. Armies at the time tended to feed themselves by robbing whatever civilians they happened to be passing. This motivates aggressive efforts to improve roads, develop shipping lines, and produce working railroads.
  • Eccentric Artist: In The Baltic War, Rubens takes advantage of his reputation as such, as mentioned when he and Scaglia discuss how strangely peaceful the "siege" of Amsterdam has become:
Scaglia: Dear God, what a preposterous siege this has turned into. The chief diplomat for the besiegers setting up his domicile in the city besieged. What's that American expression? Charles V must be spinning in his grave.
Rubens: There are some precedents, actually. Not many, I admit. But that's always the advantage of being an artist, you know. People are willing to label my behavior as 'eccentric' when they need to look the other way.
  • Edutainment Show: Or, more accurately, Edutainment Book: Not only does this series give a remarkable amount of information about the seventeenth century, but it shows what it is like to found a new nation in a remarkably insightful way. The sequels and short stories also explain such diverse topics as textile-dyeing and the manufacture of mechanical sewing machines.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Tom "Stoner" Stone's kids are named Faramir, Gwaihir and Elrond (aka Frank, Gerry and Ron), the revelation of which he uses as a threat at one point.
  • Enemy Mine: From the beginning of the series, Austria and the USE have been, often literally, at sword's point. However, when the Ottomans invade in 1636: The Ottoman Onslaught, and take Vienna, the Austrian Habsburgs, with only a minimum of hesitation, accept the USE's offer of alliance, going so far as to welcome Gustavus Adolphus himself as commander-in-chief of the new "Central European Treaty Organization's" armies. Moreover, the Austrians, with only a degree more reluctance, accept Wallenstein's - now King Albrecht's - offer of Bohemian help, notwithstanding that only a couple of years previously Wallenstein rebelled against the Habsburgs and was almost assassinated in consequence.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Maximilian of Bavaria is probably one of the closest things to an outright villain in the series, but he is genuinely devastated by the death of his wife.
  • Everyone Can See It:
    • The workers at Lothlorian Faberworken started planning Ron's engagement party months before he actually proposed in 1635: The Dreeson Incident.
    • Noelle Stull's attraction to the handsome Hungarian cavalryman is obvious to everybody around her, including the half-wits.
  • Everyone Must Be Paired: By the end of "1632" at least, most major characters have been paired off and are living in some form of domestic bliss. Mike Stearns and Rebecca Stearns née Abrabanel are married and have just welcomed their first child. Julie Mackay née Sims and Alexander Mackay are married and expecting (though not quite in that order). Gretchen Higgins née Richter and Jeff Higgins are married and expecting. Melissa Mailey and James Nichols have moved in together (though Melissa refuses to get married).
  • Evil Jesuit:
    • The Jesuit order, as a whole, are allies to the Pope, who eventually becomes allied with the uptimers. Friedrich Spee von Langenfeld is portrayed in Ring of Fire as a decent man, and an uptimer encyclopedia listing his virtues and good works nearly brings him to tears. There are some bigoted Jesuits, and a Jesuit serves as a minor antagonist in The Bavarian Crisis, but they are no more bigoted than many of their time — some non-Jesuit uptime allies are even more intolerant.
    • After the Spanish Cardinal Borja's actions in The Cannon Law (usurping Pope Urban VIII and then trying to murder him, while murdering several of his allies in the Church), the Jesuits begin to suffer a schism. One faction remains loyal to to Pope Urban VIII and are thus friendly to the uptimers; the other — mostly composed of Spanish Inquisitors and witch-hunters — become outright hostile.
  • Exact Words: In The Bavarian Crisis, Raudegen asks a village woman if she's seen a man and boy pass through. She says no with a clear conscience, because she knows the "boy" is a Sweet Polly Oliver.
  • Exploited Immunity: When Mike Stearns becomes a General, he's renowned for making sure all of his men have warm clothing, decent food and gear, and exercise proper hygiene, in an era where most armies are composed of mercenaries who have to provide their own clothes and equipment. In 1636: the Saxon Uprising, he finds himself facing General Baner, who has half again as many troops and has never been beaten on an open field. Stearns lets Baner's men freeze, starve and sicken in their trenches all winter, and then he attacks in the middle of a whiteout blizzard. This paralyzes Baner's centralized army, but is much less of an obstacle for Stearns' self-directed regiments.
  • Fake–Real Turn: In the Ring of Fire II short story "Diving Belle", Ginny Cochran, an assistant librarian from Grantville, engineers such a turn by maneuvering the Con Man Fermin Mazalet — who had stolen books from the Grantville library to help sell a get-rich-quick scheme based on salvaging the warship Vasa — into a partnership with the four Lennartson brothers whom she had befriended. The four brothers then sign half their shares over to her, and she uses her technical knowledge and the money Mazalet raised to arrange the actual salvage of the ship.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: A minor character in The Saxon Uprising is named Friedrich Engels, and is quite pleased by the coincidence.
  • Fed to Pigs: In "Skeletons", a short story by Greg Donahue in Ring of Fire, a non-intentional example happens: After Gerd kills some mercenaries who he used to work with (and who had stolen ammo and guns from Grantville), a herd of wild pigs quickly start swarming on the corpses, and Gerd has to shoot at the pigs to keep them from coming after him as well.
  • Financial Abuse: Some of the parents of the uptimer children who become multimillionaires from their business or investment deals try to get access to that money for themselves. One of the Barbies has to petition for emancipation to stop it from happening.
  • Firearms Are Revolutionary: Downplayed but still present. Guns are already a thing that has changed warfare in the Europe of the 1630s that the year 2000 town of Grantville, West Virginia gets transported to. However, the townspeople are still the beneficiaries of 369 years of firearms development and in sufficient numbers their modern, high power, rapid-fire weapons can absolutely crush any "pike and shot" formation of the day. Even when due to lack of tools they must "tech down" to a 19th century standard that can be mass-produced, their weapons still maintain a significant advantage in rate of fire, range, and accuracy over those carried by everyone else on the planet.
  • First-Name Basis: Their use of first names marks a sea change in the relationship between Mike Stearns and John Chandler Simpson in 1633.
  • Fix Fic: The entire series could be seen as this for the disaster that was the Thirty Years' War, as Grantville's arrival rapidly changes the balance of power in the Germanies.
  • Flawless Token: Rebecca is a near-genius and stunningly beautiful, Gretchen is practically a Messianic Archetype and stunningly beautiful, and Julie is an amazing sniper and stunningly beaut-- well, good-looking at least.
  • Fold-Spindle Mutilation: It happens to a convicted criminal sent to test a heavy diving suit in 1634: The Baltic War when the pumps, which didn't have safety valves, fail.
  • For Want of a Nail: The existence of the Ring Of Fire changed history - sometimes even parts of history that the uptimers weren't interacting with directly - all over the place. Between the novels and short stories, there are at least four cases of characters outliving their historical counterparts, and only two of the four had acknowledged explanations that involved interaction with uptimers (Because of knowledge acquired while working with them, they chose not to be in the situations that got them killed the first time around). The other two historically would have died before they even had a chance to meet an uptimer.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: Sort of. The plot has spread out rather than forward. 1632, 1633, 1634: The Galileo Affair, and 1635: The Cannon Law were published in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006, respectively. At that pace, we might expect a book named after 1636 in 2008, 1637 in 2010, 1638 in 2012, and so on. What's actually happened is that the first 1637 book came out in 2017, with multiple for each of 1634, 1635, and 1636 before then, and books taking place before 1637 still coming out. Each one follows a different plot thread, focused on different groups of characters in different parts of the world. Each novel has only one main plot thread, or maybe just two or another reasonably small number, with various interludes showing how Mission Control is going to react to events.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Jeff rescues Gretchen at the Battle of the Crapper. They get engaged that night, and married four days later. Despite not having a common language. Nevertheless, their relationship works, and is still going strong as of 1636.
  • 419 Scam: In one of the Grantville Gazette short stories, this scam is applied against members of minor nobility by some who were familiar with it from uptime 20th century literature, with said nobility being too concerned about their reputation to try to assist catching the perpetrator.
  • Four-Star Badass: Mike Stearns goes from being the Prime Minister of the United States of Europe to being appointed Brigadier General in charge of the Third Division. While at first he is dismissed as a rank amateur, he goes on to win several battles in such an overwhelming way against not only superior forces, but superior commanders who have decades of experience under their belt. It eventually gets to the point that the mere threat of his entering a field of battle will prevent others from attacking.
  • Friendly Sniper: Julie Sims (later Mackay) is a very nice girl... and the deadliest shot in Europe. To the point where the official term some people use for sniper is "Jooli".
  • Frozen in Time: Potential authors (see below) are reminded that the "up-timers" are from 2000. Pentium 2s running Windows 95/98, video storage on VHS, pre-Bush-presidency, pre-9/11, pre-Iraq War.
  • Fumbling the Gauntlet: See Too Dumb to Live example. Summary version: uptime high school jock punches downtime professional soldier, which the recipient takes as a duel challenge, and chooses saber. The aggressor does not own or know how to use said weapon. Fortunately for his life expectancy, authorities intervene.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • The United Mine Workers of America, to start with.
      "And just exactly who is this—the Umwa? Sounds Polish. Is there a Polish baron somewhere in this area?"
    • Down-timers even express amusement, bemusement, and even frustration at the tendency of the up-time Americans to use a lot of acronyms, although some acknowledge that it can be useful for long formal names.
    • The abbreviation for the New United States, "NUS", looks like Nuss, the German word for nut, leading to fears the Germans will call them a bunch of nuts. When renaming it, a suggestion to call it the Province of Thuringia, or "PoT" for short was thrown out because nobody wants to be a citizen of pot. The problem continues when Thuringia is joined with Franconia — they opt for "State of Thuringia-Franconia" as the new name on the grounds that SoTF beats SoFT.
    • A historical example: Captain Gars is derived from "Gustavus Adolphus Rex Sueciae" (Gustavus Adolphus, King of the Swedes).
  • Gambit Pileup: Europe always was a continuous Gambit Pileup until quite recently - arguably until today, though with less violence. This setting is one of the more "piled up" eras though.
  • Gangsta Style: In A Parcel of Rogues, Daryl indulges in gangsta style firing at the people pursuing him in the Fens, something he's always wanted to do. He was intentionally missing to bait on his pursuers, though, so the inaccuracy of the method wasn't an issue.
    Sure, you can't hit shit that way, but if you don't want to, it surely is fun.
  • Genocide Backfire:
    • Charles I is anxious to prevent his historical beheading and preemptively rounds up the people who had him killed in up-time history. Oliver Cromwell wasn't thinking of regicide at the time, but his wife and one of his sons are murdered during his arrest, which gives him a whole new motive to kill the king.
      Cromwell: Predestination, is it? Leave it to King Charles to kill a regicide's wife and son, and leave the regicide alive. I advise you to have me executed. For I will do my best, I can assure you, to see that God's will is not thwarted.
      • And after Cromwell escapes, the efforts of Charles I to recapture a man he could have had executed at any time over the better part of a year (Which include burning down a house because the tenant might have harbored Cromwell's kin, arresting a well-regarded local figure without charges and inciting a riot to attack the home of a prominent citizen) makes just about everyone in the areas where the King's agents pass through sympathetic to the concept of rebellion.
    • In "Jenny and the King's Men," the attempted murder of Jenny Geddes sparks the kind of civil unrest that she was supposed to have instigated.
  • Gentle Giant: Tom Simpson is built like the pro American Football player he almost was before marrying Rita Stearns, but for the most part is slow to anger.
    General Torstensson: I'm curious. What would be your weapon of choice? In a duel, I mean.
    Tom Simpson: Ten-pound sledgehammers.
  • Germanic Depressives: Inverted with the Down-Time Germans' opinions of the Up-Time US. The Germans derive much humor from the fact that the Up-Time stereotype of Germans is as rule-obsessed, bureaucratic control freaks, whereas Down-Time Germans are notorious throughout Europe as a disorderly, happy-go-lucky lot and it's the Americans who are in love with rules and forms.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • Shows up a lot in-universe, most notably concerning Buster Keaton and Reba McEntire.
    • In Ring of Fire story "Biting Time," a group of women sell the publishing rights to their collections of up-time romance novels (the authors not being present to object); by the time of The Bavarian Crisis they've spread far enough that Don Fernando name-drops Harlequin.
  • Girl Next Door: Julie Sims is noted as pretty but not knock-out gorgeous, but thanks to her cheery personality she doesn't really have any enemies outside of those opposed to the USE.
  • Giving Radio to the Romans: The 'Takes A Village' Variant, with uptime knowledge from Grantville being applied to speed the technological and political advancement of the 17th century.
  • God Guise: After her defense of the high school, Captain Gars' only somewhat Christianized Finns come to the conclusion that Julie Sims is an avatar of Loviatar, Goddess of Hurt, Maiden of Pain. This never gets brought up again.
  • Going Native:
    • The Abrabanel family are the most notable locals to go native in Grantville and the Richters (especially Gretchen) the most fanatical. Numerous other downtimers do. For their part the uptimers adopt a number of local customs. And of course they adapt very successfully to the basics of seventeenth century political discourse.
    • On the other hand, Americans who marry downtimers, convert religions, take titles or hire domestic servants are accused of going native, or at the very least, being un-American by the close-minded patrons of Club 250.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Near the beginning of the first book, When Mike Stearns rejects ex-CEO John Simpson's proposal at the town meeting to drive off German war refugees as being extra mouths and a plague menace to boot, he uses two lines of attack. First, that it would be contrary to the American way. Second, that helping the refugees would win their loyalty among a great pool of potential workers, artisans, and soldiers who could be educated to technological skill centuries ahead of time and thereby form the most effective support for their infant country that could be imagined.
  • Good Stepmother: The historical character Eleonora Gonzaga is adored by her stepchildren, one of who compares her to Maria von Trapp. It takes a while for anyone to even bother mentioning that Veronica Richter was Grandpa Richter's second wife and so isn't biologically related to Hans and Gretchen.
  • Got Me Doing It: After spending some time with Princess Kristina, Prince Ulrik barely stops himself from calling Axel Oxenstierna "Uncle Axel."
  • Gratuitous Princess: In 1636: The Viennese Waltz all the Barbies in Vienna are promoted to princess.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Alyse Glazer peppers her speech with Spanish often. She chalks it up to force of habit from Spanish being her first language and growing up in South Texas.
  • Groin Attack:
    • An especially nasty one from the very first novel; a Croat soldier takes a point blank sawed-off shotgun blast to the testicles, with a detailed description of the shot's path.
    • In "A Filthy Story," The Neidermeyer is emasculated by an ax to the groin; the ax-wielder gets latrine duty because it was a genuine accident (he confides he was trying to kill the man, but slipped), with the punishment being because the perpetrator laughed at the officer afterward.
  • Guns Akimbo: Subverted in the climactic scene of 1632 where Sheriff Dan Frost decides to be more professional about it than trying to re-enact union legend about the big shootout between union men and company enforcers at Matewan. It doesn't make him any less awesome.
  • Guile Hero:
    • Although he is more than capable of handling himself in a fight, one of Mike Stearns' greatest skills is to win battles (or avoid them altogether) by playing politics. This becomes a plot point in The Saxon Uprising, when Gretchen Richter breaks down in tears of relief when Mike proves he hasn't discarded his republican principles by leading his army to fight her besiegers.
    • In 1636: The Saxon Uprising, Axel Oxenstierna's plan to seize control over the United States of Europe includes crushing his political opponents on the battlefields of the resultant civil war. Unfortunately for him, the leader of his opponents is Rebecca Stearns nee Abrabanel, who recognizes that this plan will only work if they take up arms against him.
  • Handbag of Hurt: Everyone attending the Colloquy of Rudolstadt is given a text of all the major Protestant texts, letters and speeches that had been given over the past century, in English, German, and Latin. The book is 1,285 pages, weighs three and a half pounds, and makes an effective weapon when swung in a tote bag.
  • Handicapped Badass: Gustav Adolf's cousin, Colonel Erik Haakanson Hand, who has lost most of the use of his right arm due to a battle injury. He doesn't let this stop him from carrying out field operations as Duke Ernst's aide and taking a prominent role in 1636: The Saxon Uprising, after Gustav Adolf recovers and resumes power following his incapacitation at the hands of Polish forces.
  • Hands-Off Parenting:
    • The trope description says this is often true of (fictional) hippie parents, but Tom Stone averts it neatly. He is a nurturing and attentive parent to his three sons, even though only one of them is definitely his biological child (the practices of their commune made such determinations complicated.)
    • One of the town girls has her mother play this trope straight and is actually nearly brought to tears upon this realization since even the Stones—who many in town, including her, considered a family of losers before the Ring of Fire—actually had a better, more supportive family life than she ever had.
  • Happily Married: Jeff and Gretchen, Mike and Rebecca, Julie and Alex Mackay. And many, many more in subsequent novels. Basically, if you are a protagonist/good supporting character in an Eric Flint novel, you are probably either already happily married, or going to become so in the future.note 
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Albrecht von Wallenstein, in The Wallenstein Gambit. Originally the commanding general under the Habsburgs, and given the task of crushing both King Gustav II Adolf and the Americans, he switches sides and becomes a valuable ally to both. The also infamous Pappenheim also switches sides along with Wallenstein.
    • Cardinal-Infante Ferdinand (known in the books as "Don Fernando") as well, though he's much less of a villain than Wallenstein was. At the time that he reaches a peace agreement with the Dutch United Provinces that makes him monarch of the "United Kingdom of the Low Countries", comprising Holland and what is now Belgium, he's nominally allied to Spain, although he and his aunt Isabella have laid the groundwork to break with Spain and ally openly with the USE. The rupture between Spain and the Low Countries, under Fernando's leadership, is breaking wide open in the wake of the events recounted in 1635: The Papal Stakes, and ''1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies", as the informal triumvirate ruling the Low Countries - Fernando and Maria Anna, along with Fernando's aunt Archduchess Isabella - first send the famous "Wild Geese" (Irish mercenaries) to rescue Pope Urban VII and offer him sanctuary, and then send more "Wild Geese" to the Caribbean to seize Trinidad from the Spanish, which puts the Irishmen, and by extension their liege lord Fernando, in direct conflict with Fernando's brother Philip IV in Madrid.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • At the climax of 1633, a mortally wounded pilot (Hans Richter) makes an aerial suicide attack against the Danish navy, becoming a folk hero to the Germans.
    • An attack on the Pope from a horde of assassins sent by Spanish Cardinal Borja is fended off by George Sutherland, at the cost of the defender's life.
    • The stand by Buster Beasely against the antisemitic mob during the Dreeson Incident in the novel of the same name. After which his name becomes a slang term for someone who will not back down from what's right when confronted by miscreants, no matter what.
    • Archduke Leopold’s personal guard, Marco Vianetti.
    He never saw the shot that hit Leopold in the side. He was too busy fighting for his life and trying to buy Leopold the time he needed to get away.
    He failed in the first, but succeeded in the second.
    • Lord Mackay, who had broken his back in a fall and only ceased to be bedridden when his American in-laws arranged for him to receive a wheelchair throws himself on a grenade to protect everyone else in the room.
    • Anders Jonsson, Gustav's bodyguard, has the unenviable job of protecting him in battle. When Gustav is knocked unconscious, Jonsson is gored by a lance trying to protect him, then, while bleeding to death, guns down attackers until he runs out of ammunition. Then, he literally covers the emperor with his own body, getting skewered with one final lance but saving Gustav's life.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: When Doctor Gribbleflotz was an apprentice assayer, he was the office's moonshiner. He ran his still in the office, during business hours, right alongside the dozen or so other stills he was put in charge of by the journeymen, which were producing chemicals needed for their work.
  • High School: The local high school becomes, by default, the greatest repository of knowledge in the world. Ties in with Writer on Board — Flint uses it to demonstrate just how much knowledge is available in such a typical school.
  • Historical Beauty Update: Invoked and subverted; Ulrik notes Kristina looks nothing like Greta Garbo. He cheerfully consoles himself with the thought that Kristina's intelligence and spirited personality mean that marriage to her will never be boring.
  • Historical Domain Character: The series is full of them, and a comprehensive list would be a page in and of itself.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Cromwell is given something of an upgrade in the series, one he most probably didn't deserve - he was not a particularly pleasant person, even by the standards of the time, despite the attempts of the series to gloss over his atrocities. While he wasn't as vile as the Irish-American Daryl McCarthy sees him, it's a great deal closer to reality than his fairly heroic portrayal in the series.
  • Historical In-Joke: The entire series could be considered one long cascade of these.
    • A brutally ironic example in The Dreeson Incident has the Jewish Don Francisco Nasi calling the ruthlessly efficient CoC elimination of all antisemitic and witch hunting groups in the USE Operation Kristallnacht. Just to spite the Nazis and their infamous Antisemitism uptime.
    • Something that's historical for both the up-timers and down-timers: in "The Wallenstein Gambit," Wallenstein has Emperor Ferdinand's man in Prague defenestrated, after making good and sure he won't have a soft landing.
    • In The Kremlin Games the Czar has a gunsmith named Andrei Korisov-as in "AK" as in "AK-47".
    • The current Emperor of the early-formed Austro-Hungarian Empire, Ferdinand III, has taken a shining to American cars, to the point of not only buying one and hiring uptimers to maintain it, but having a professional race track built for him to drive it on. His multi-great grandson, professional race car driver Ferdinand Zvonimir von Hapsberg, must be proud.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Discussed in 1633, in which Tom Simpson gives a lecture to Daryl, a staunch Irish-American who loathes Oliver Cromwell as a one-dimensional Irish-oppressor and is previously established to have Failed History Forever. To make it worse for the Irish-American in question, the history teacher who failed him — none other than Melissa "Schoolmarm from Hell" Mailey — describes his failures in gleeful and exhaustive detail.
    • The author admits that Cardinal Richelieu has frequently been on the receiving end of a Historical Villain Upgrade from many authors and was a better person than how he is often portrayed. However, he's cast as an antagonist anyway due to a shortage of other contemporary political leaders who make any sense as a Worthy Opponent to the protagonists.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: The series is set so far in the past that no characters will ever get to see it, but Mike Stearns and Gustav Adolph both state that a goal of theirs is to prevent the world wars of the 20th century. If Germany can be unified more or less peacefully in the 1600s, the hope is, it won't have aggressive, racist policies when the 20th century comes. (Realistically, the first book alone threw sufficient spanners in the works to ensure that WWI and WWII wouldn't happen the way we remember, and bringing 20th-century science into the 17th century might start wars early for all we know, but the hope is that democratizing and liberalizing earlier will make things better.)
    • Pretty much every character on every side tries to avert the world wars, even the villainous Cardinal Richelieu is mainly motivated by his theory that Grantville is a warning message that the excesses of democratization led to the totalitarian horrors of the 20th century, (he specifically brings up Hitler in a discussion with Rebecca), and that he can avert them by arming a strong, stable aristocracy with up-time technology.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Nonromantically, when Gustav Adolf and Julie Sims interact they are repeatedly compared to a bear and a chipmunk.

    Tropes I to O 
  • I Know Mortal Kombat:
    • One of the major sources of information on black-powder combat for the uptimers was civil war reenactors.
    • The Four Musketeers, besides being best friends and dirt bikers, are all enthusiasts of Tabletop Games of all kinds ... and it pays off:
      • "In the Navy" has Eddie Cantrell revealing his status as the naval expert of the group who just happens to have a pile of reference books about everything from sailing-ships to Civil War ironclads.
      • In the Grantville Gazette I short story "Curio and Relic", Eddie Cantrell uses a trick he pulled in a Dungeons & Dragons game to manoeuvre a local tightwad into giving up his spare weapons to bolster the town's armoury.
      • By the beginning of 1636: The Saxon Uprising, Jeff Higgins been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and placed in command of an army regiment. Which he runs the same way he ran tabletop RPGs as a DM.
    • In 1636: The Kremlin Games, one of the pastimes that Bernie Zeppi introduces to Russia is hex-based wargames. The Russian military promptly invokes the trope and adds a more sophisticated version — including fog of war, for example — to their officer training.
  • I'm Mr. [Future Pop Culture Reference]:
    • When Eddie Cantrell finally gets his serial number, it's 007. He proceeds to feed the king of Denmark all kinds of misinformation, including claiming that one of Grantville's best engineers is Elvis Presley. This comes back to bite him when the king starts reading his up-time encyclopedia, a more modern edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica than the 1911 edition that Eddie assumed he would have because it was more useful for building up from a 17th century tech level.
    • In The Papal Stakes, when meeting with a contact code-named Romulus, Harry Lefferts uses the code-name Vulcan. This time it actually makes sense — a down-timer would assume that Romulus would be meeting with Remus, after the two mythological founders of Rome.
    • In The Baltic War, Princess Kristina barges through a guard post on behalf of Caroline Platzer and Thorsten Engler in part by claiming they're the Countess of Oz and the Count of Narnia. (Her father later arranges for the latter to become the truth by renaming the village Nutschel before ennobling Thorsten.)
  • Immodest Orgasm: As the new Mrs. Higgins happily discovers with Jeff on their wedding night, sex can be quite pleasurable and not the loathed chore it was while she was as a camp follower prior to the Battle of the Crapper. Her younger siblings are puzzled by the noises, as she had "never" made them before. Her grandmother though knows what those sounds mean and smiles.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Towards the end of "1632", a very pregnant Rebecca is attacked by the Croat horsemen that have been sent ahead of the imperial cavalry to attack Grantsville as she takes her morning walk into town. Chapter 54 ends with the horsemen leering at her from their hidden position, looking forwards to killing both mother and child. In Chapter 55, Rebecca is forced to defend herself from their sudden charge with the sawed-off shotgun Mike insisted she carry for self defense.
  • Improvised Umbrella: In 1635: The Eastern Front, Jeff Higgins resorts to using a wooden plank.
  • In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous: Averted early on, then justified. When Grantville first arrives in the past, they don't encounter any historical figures (mostly random peasants and soldiers). As they begin to have an increasing effect on the world, though, they attract the attention of every major political and military figure, and many prominent people in art and culture. As a result, virtually every recognizeable name from the era appears in the series at some point.
    • The only notable they encounter purely by chance is when Rebecca saves (and ultimately adopts) an infant during the siege of Amsterdam, only to learn that his name is Benedito de Espinosa.
  • Insatiable Newlyweds: Jeff and Gretchen Higgins, on their honeymoon, are said to have had sex repeatedly, and not quietly.
  • Innocent Innuendo:
    • When Hans Richter regains consciousness, his first words to Sharon Nichols are, "Take me, angel. I am ready." He mistook her for an angel of death waiting to usher his soul to heaven.
    • In the Grantville Gazette story "The Painter's Gambit," the artistic title character doesn't understand why up-timers are so amused when he talks about how he'd like to show his girlfriend his etchings.
  • In-Series Nickname: Several.
    • Mary Simpson is "The American Lady" and "The Dame of Magdeburg".
    • Mike Stearns is the "Prince of Germany".
    • Gustav II Adolf is the "Lion of the North".
    • Admiral John Simpson is (affectionately) the "Old Bastard".
    • Jesse Wood, leader of the USE Air Force, is "Der Adler" ("The Eagle").
    • Melissa Mailey has several. They include "Schoolmarm from Hell", "She-Creature from the Black Lagoon", and a number of others, which get progressively worse.
  • Insistent Terminology: Anne Cathrine of Denmark is a king's daughter. Not princess. King's daughter.note 
  • Inspiration Nod: Despite the bucketfuls of literary references, Mark Twain's books are scarcely mentioned anywhere in the series. This is most likely because they don't want to bring up the overt links between the stories and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (especially Gustav/Arthur).
  • Ironic Echo: An almost instantaneous example: in 1633, after Joachim von Thierbach has gone halfway around the room pointing out all the people whose lives have been ruined by mercenary soldiers, he begins to wrap up his remarks:
    Joachim: Such is the piety of aristocracy, King and Chancellor. Such is what — nothing more — all of your fine distinctions between Lutheran and Calvinist and Catholic come to in the end. Which nobleman gets to plunder and abuse which commoner at his convenience.
    Oxenstierna: Enough!
    Joachim: Yes, indeed, Chancellor. Precisely my point. Enough.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: Rebecca's first television appearance.
    Gretchen: She seems awfully nervous.
    Annalise: That's nonsense. Becky is never nervous.
    [chapter break]
    Rebecca: I'm so nervous.
  • Iron Lady: Gretchen. To the point where Melissa is taken aback by her propensity to cuff the children in her entourage. Gretchen for her part senses that and is confused, then amused by it after seeing Melissa simply bark an order and have it followed.
    Gretchen: Well, no wonder. I bet she never has to slap a child. Not her!
  • Irony: Dr Gribbelflotz is probably the second-best industrial chemist in the world (behind Tom Stone), and has made a fortune conering the market on things like cosmetics and household chemicals. However, his doctorate is self-bestowed.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: 1634: The Galileo Affair references the famous line, in regards to the stormy evening at the start of the fifth chapter.
    The autumn night that Don Francisco Nasi was musing on was a filthy one, slapping its rain and wind against the glass. It was the kind of night on which bad novels began.
  • Jerk Jock:
    • Chip Jenkins in 1632, a football player who resents his girlfriend Julie's far more impressive battlefield accomplishments; before long, she dumps him. He gets better in later instalments and proves to have a talent for the violin.
    • In 1636: The Kremlin Games, Bernie Zeppi is a mild version of this, who undergoes a complete Heel–Face Turn very quickly when he comes face-to-face with the horrible consequences of disease spread by unsanitary conditions in seventeenth-century Moscow. Cass Lowry, though, is a really horrible example, and one of the nastier main characters in the whole series. As one downtimer put it:
      Vladimir: [in a letter to his sister] Mr. Lowry is not a person we would want in our home. But he does have knowledge that could be useful to Russia. Try to keep anyone from killing him for the insults he will surely give.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The stubborn, judgmental, cantankerous Irene Flannery gets Hidden Depths in Mrs. Flannery's Flowers and The Gourmets of Grantville, sewing a dress for a girl with nothing to wear to church and helping a German refugee start a business teaching crafting classes.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: The introduction of new technologies means that the entire history of the Industrial Revolution is basically put on fast-forward. The new technologies inevitably put a lot of people out of work, but they also create entire new industries, creating a lot of new jobs. This is highly disruptive, but provides a great deal of opportunity. It's also deliberately invoked, as when the uptimers deliberately push technologies to automate cotton-farming, explicitly to keep the trans-Atlantic slave trade from developing.
  • Jumping on a Grenade: Lord Mackay, during 1635: A Parcel of Rogues.
  • Kangaroo Court: After Maria Anna flees, an enraged Maximilian of Bavaria has the remainder of her entourage and a good chunk of his own council judicially murdered. Especially outrageous since the people Maria Anna left behind were the ones she didn't trust with her plans.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: In the first book, Richelieu's major plot involves sending an army against Suhl, while having his allies attack Eisenach. He knows, full well, that both attacks will probably fail, but the Americans will send all their forces to repel both attacks, leaving Grantville itself undefended. That leaves him a clear field to send a couple of thousand Croat mercenaries to lay waste to the town (or at least kill enough people to scare away the most prominent citizens).
  • Kill on Sight: After the Battle of the Crapper, the mercenaries who don't pass Gretchen's examination are exiled from American territory. Before they're sent off, they're photographed and the pictures put on posters reading "Wanted — Dead".
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Or in this case Big Sister: Gretchen, for her brother Hans and her adopted family.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Courtesy of Gustav's advisor, James Spens.
    "A colony of Englishmen from a future US find themselves planted in the middle of Thuringia? It's a thing of fable! The tales of Rabelais and Sir Thomas More come to life!"
  • Language Drift: Due to the huge cultural influence of the Americans, and the amount of new concepts that have no equivalent translation, many English words have infiltrated downtime European languages. The unification of Germany and English radio communications on top of a large number of mutually intelligible regional German dialects have led to a pidgin language called Amideutsch. It simplifies a lot of conjugations and incorporates English loanwords, to the point where "Ich denke" becomes "I denk".
  • Large Ham:
    • Gustavus Adolphus puts on a fine show when politicking, especially in public.
    • Mike Stearns isn't normally one, but he is quite capable. See any of his political speeches.
    • Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz is a giant Catalan ham that could feed a small village.
  • The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: Mike and Rebecca's children are named Sepharad, Baruch, and Kathleen.
  • The Law Firm of Pun, Pun, and Wordplay: "The Truth About That Cat and Pup" features the rival law firms of Waffler, Wiesel and Finck and Hardegg, Selfisch, and Krapp.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: In The Dreeson Incident a widowed merchant marries Velma Hardesty partly because she's presumed to be past childbearing age, fulfilling a promise to his existing children not to further divide his inheritance. Turns out she isn't quite past it.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Lennox's commentary on yet another Rousing Speech from Mike. It's hard to tell how serious or sarcastic he's being In-Universe.
    "Ye can ignore t'is portion o' t'speech, lads. 'Tis a lot o' silly business 'boot t'grand tradition o' West Virginians an' how they seceded from a sorry lot o' aristocratic secessionists when t'slave-owning bastids attempted to undermine t'will o' America's 'onest an' stalwart yeomanry..."
  • A Little Something We Call "Rock and Roll":
    • Played with; downtimers hate rock and roll, and most music from the late 20th century (with a few exceptions, like Reba McEntire). However, at least some of them love music from in between 1632 and 2000, like Beethoven or Mozart.
    • The live theater production of The Sound of Music is a big hit, especially in Austria, where it was almost single-handedly responsible for Austrian proto-nationalism. In fact Broadway musicals in general seem to be popular. Guys and Dolls inspires the creation of a downtime Salvation Army in the short story "The Devil Will Drag You Under".
    • It's rap that the downtimers particularly can't stand.
    • While it likely already existed down-timenote , the modern American version of the English folk song "The Romish Lady" becomes very popular among the German Lutherans in "The Rudolstadt Colloquy."
    • Marla Linder, a character introduced by David Carrico for his stories centering on the interplay of 17th-century and 20th-century music and musicians, likes rock, particularly classic rock; one of the early stories following Marla and her future husband Franz Sylwester, one of the aforementioned downtime musicians, centers on a lengthy session in which she introduces him and his fellow-musician friends to the history of music in the 400-something years between 1632 and 2000.
    • In one of the Grantville Gazette stories, the main uptime character meets a young downtime woman whose singing voice sounds uncannily like that of Stevie Nicks. The classic-rock-homage group that they eventually found, along with several others, is named...Fleetwood Mac.
    • In another Gazette story, a band plays Music/Sabaton 's "Lion from the North", a song written in tribute to Gustavus Adolphus; however, this is almost certainly an anachronism, as the song was released on Sabaton's album Carolus Rex in 2012, twelve years after the Ring of Fire.
  • Long-Distance Relationship: Two of the main couples of 1632, Mike/Rebecca and James/Melissa, spend most of 1633 and 1634 separated. In this case, though, the traditional gender roles are reversed; James and Mike are safely home in Grantville (usually), while Rebecca is in besieged Amsterdam and Melissa is trapped in the Tower of London. At least Mike can get up to see his wife every so often, but poor James spends the best part of a year enduring Melissa's absence, with the expected effects on his temper and workaholism.
  • Long-Runner Tech Marches On: Carefully averted. The author has noted that as the years go by he has to be increasingly careful to avoid mentioning anything that didn't exist until after 2000.
  • Long Title:
    • In 1634: The Bavarian Crisis, the play chosen to celebrate the wedding of Duke Maximilian to Maria Anna is referred to initially by its short title, Belisarius, Christian General, but Maximilian's sister-in-law Duchess Mechthilde mentally notes the full name of the play is A Tragi-Comedy of the Rise and Fall of Belisarius, Christian General, who Fell from the Highest Happiness of Fame into the Extreme Mockery of Misfortune under Emperor Justinian, about the Year of Christ 530. note 
    • A story in the third Ring of Fire anthology, regarding a siege of a town by the Ottoman Empire, is titled "A Relation of the Late Siege and Taking of the City of Yerevan by the Turk Including an Authentic Narrative of the Death of the Persian Commander and an Account of the Destruction Wrought by Terrible New Engines of War".
  • Loophole Abuse: According to Captain Bartley in 1636: The Saxon Uprising, there's no rule that the Dollar is the exclusive currency of the USE, allowing the Third Division the capability to produce its own currency for purchasing supplies.
    • This loophole is also used by Bartley's friends, the Barbies, when they introduce their own currency (technically stock certificates) as an alternative to the struggling Austrian Reichsthaler in The Viennese Waltz.
    • Also gleefully used by the financial kid wizards of the Sewing Circle to prevent accusations of insider trading and poor investment of mutual funds.
  • Loud of War: Used in 1632 by the American forces as a form of psychological warfare (along with high-powered spotlights and an amateur "fireworks display" with homemade rockets) against the Spanish soldiers who retreat to the abandoned Wartburg Castle. The musical program starts with some 20th century artists (Bob Dillon, Elvis, Reba McEntire, etc...) before delving into samples from Berg, Mussorgsky, Grieg, and Wagner. From Chapter 54:
    The witching hour started at midnight. From loudspeakers positioned at five places surrounding the Wartburg, music suddenly blared forth. A wooded hill in seventeenth-century Thuringia was blessed with the popular tastes of a much later era.
    Harry Lefferts’ tastes, anyway. Somehow—Mike never was clear on the exact chain of command involved—Harry had gotten himself appointed DJ for the occasion.
    He began, naturally, with the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil,” then, followed with “Satisfaction” and “Street Fighting Man.”
  • Love Across Battlelines: From The Bavarian Crisis:
    • Susanna was Catholic, and Marc a Calvinist, which was a pretty big deal during the 17th century given their respective faiths were nominally on opposite sides of the Thirty Years War.
    • In the same book, Dorothea Richter and Nicholas Moser are also a Catholic and a Calvinist, but they give the logistics much less thought. Mayor Dreeson ends up giving their newborn child a "civil" baptism after they're unable to decide on a faith.
  • Love at First Sight: In 1632 alone Rebecca Abrabanel and Mike Stearns are immediately drawn to one another, as are Jeff Higgins and Gretchen Richter. Hans Richter is also immediately captivated by Sharon Nichols, who he initially mistakes for an angel.
  • MacGuffin: The Assiti Shards that appear in the prologue of the first book are essentially just plot devices that Eric Flint can use over and over again to write Alternate History and Science Fiction novels (his words). They are never mentioned, alluded to, or considered in any way ever again as soon as the first chapter begins.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: The trope name is a fairly good description of what happened to Holk's mercenaries during the Battle of Prague in "The Wallenstein Gambit".
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage:
    • While it's not elaborated on, the first novel does mention in passing that Melissa Mailey's romance (and cohabitation) with the African-American James Nichols gave Grantville's local bigots fits. Melissa, as ever, ignored them.
    • More significantly, the leaders of Grantville chose to defy this trope in the case of Jeff Higgins and Gretchen Richter, as a way of emphasizing by deed that German citizens were considered on an equal footing with native Americans.
  • Mama Bear: Not a smart move to attack a town whose defenses include two very formidable female fighters and a female tactical expert, all of whom are currently pregnant (one with her second child, her first also being in town). Right, Gretchen, Julie, and Rebecca?
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: The siblings Hans and Gretchen Richter, especially in the beginning and backstory of 1632. Gretchen is compared to a Valkyrie; Hans is a sensitive bookworm who comments that she's much more suited to be a soldier (then he discovers motor vehicles).
  • May–December Romance: When Sharon accedes to the courtship of a man old enough to be her grandfather (Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz), she worries that her father will disapprove for this reason.
    • Prince Ulrik of Denmark (age 23) was betrothed to Crown-Princess (Lieutenant-General) Kristina (age 8). During the events of the Saxon Uprising and Oxenstierna's attempt at usurpation, they get to know each other as friends and don't mind that they're part of an arranged marriage to solidify the newly re-established Kalmar Union.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Living Saint Mian Mir, located in Mughal India, somehow knew about the Ring of Fire before anyone in India and dispatched one of his students to learn its secrets. The Grantville Embassy is shocked by this, reasoning he'd have to either have learned of Grantville from the first trade ship to leave Europe and arrive in India post Grantville's arrival, or had some mystical way to know about its appearance. The question is moot, as Mian Mir dies of old age (nearly 100 years old) while the Grantville embassy is on the way to question him.
  • Memetic Mutation: In-universe, Count Ludwig Guenther is often portrayed wearing a backwards baseball cap in political cartoons—far out of proportion to the number of times he actually put one on.
    Archduchess Maria Anna: How amazing that those American heretics brought along such a magnificent tribute to the Austrian spirit. So morally uplifting. The Baroness Maria was so admirably pious. The marriage must have been morganatic, of course, but that is all right, since the baron had plenty of legally acceptable heirs from his first marriage.
  • Mighty Whitey: Inverted heavily by the dark skinned Dr. Nichols and his daughter, Sharon, a nurse. They wind up teaching modern medical science to the poor, backward white folks of Europe. Being exotic helps (no one ever argues with them); the best doctors of the time are either "Moors" or Jewish anyway.
  • Mistaken for Subculture: Specifically, for Nobility. Downtimers meeting Americans for the first time almost always assume that they are nobles of some kind.
    What mattered—what had always mattered, more than anything—was what people are. And the Americans, it was plain to see, were nobility. It was obvious in everything they said and did, and didn't say and didn't do. It shone through their simple carriage. [...] Every American, on some level, took a fundamental truth for granted. I am important. Precious. Human. My life is valuable.

    That attitude infused them, whether they knew it or not. And it was that unspoken, unconscious attitude which the German newcomers immediately sensed. They reacted automatically, just as Gretchen had instantly assumed an American schoolteacher was really a duchess.
  • Moment of Awesome: Invoked by the narration in 1632, as the author takes time out of the narrative to pontificate on the Battle of Breitenfeld as one of the very few times when the course of human history revolved around the actions of one man — in this case, King Gustav II Adolf of Sweden — and cites said battle as his eternal Crowning Moment.
    Narration: The Father of Modern War, Gustavus Adolphus almost certainly was not. But he may very well have been the Father of the Modern World. Because then, at that place, at the moment when the Saxons broke and the Inquisition bade fair to triumph over all of Europe, the king of Sweden stood his ground.

    And proved, once again, that the truth of history is always concrete. Abstractions are the stuff of argument, but the concrete is given. Whatever might have been, was not. Not because of tactics, and formations, and artillery, and methods of recruitment—though all of those things played a part, and a big one—but because of a simple truth. At that instant, history pivoted on the soul of one man. His name was Gustavus Adolphus, and there were those among his followers who thought him the only monarch in Europe worthy of the name. They were right, and the man was about to prove it. For one of the few times in human history, royalty was not a lie.

    Two centuries later, long after the concrete set and the truth was obvious to all, a monument would be erected on that field. The passing years, through the bickering and the debates, had settled the meaning of Breitenfeld. The phrase on the monument simply read: freedom of belief for all the world.

    Whatever else he was or was not, Gustavus Adolphus will always be Breitenfeld. He stands on that field for eternity, just as he did on that day. September 17, 1631.

    Breitenfeld. Always Breitenfeld.
  • Monumental Damage:
    • After setting the Wartburg on fire with napalm, Mike ponders that it probably is considered a historical monument back in the American's native time. (Which is indeed the case by the way.)
    • From 1634: The Baltic War, the Globe Theatre was set on fire as a distraction for the escape from the Tower of London, which also got some explosive renovations done to it in the process. The latter doesn't make Melissa Mailey happy, but on finding out about the fire she goes absolutely ballistic. Which makes sense, since she's a history teacher.
    • 1635: The Cannon Law has, in addition to the sacking of a major, ancient city in Italy (specifically, Rome), a massive explosion intentionally triggered in a castle's armory (specifically, Castel Sant'Angelo, containing Hadrian's Tomb) to cover the escape of Tom Simpson, Ruy Sanchez, and Pope Urban VIII from the castle.
    • 1637: The Polish Maelstrom: Jeff is worried that if he has to besiege Krakow, it will not only cause serious casualties on both sides but it might also destroy a portion of the historic city. He succeeds in taking the city with only minor casualties and with only a single historic gate turned to rubble.
  • Mooning: Gustav Adolf does this to the forces retreating from the siege of Luebeck in The Baltic War.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: The heroes range from almost pure heroism to rather questionable, the antagonists range from evil to people who could be heroic under slightly different circumstances and/or are just victims of Values Dissonance.
  • More Dakka: The "flying artillery" and mitrailleuse, both discussed in 1634: The Baltic War, for the army and navy, respectively. See also the mass use of single-shot weapons, particularly in the first few battles involving Americans armed with semi-automatic rifles in the first novel, and the salvo that fatally wounded Hans Richter in 1633, when the fleet besieging Wismar was engaged.
  • Mugging the Monster: Hey look a new town! Lets go Rape, Pillage, and Burn it! Oh wait... Oh, Crap!...
  • Must Have Caffeine:
    • After Jeff announces his intention to marry Gretchen, in 1632, Ed Piazza offers the use of his high school office for the night, with the warning to have everyone up and out of the way when Vice Principal Trout shows up for his morning coffee.
      It was universally known by the high school's students that you did not want to arouse the vice-principal's ire before he'd had his dose of three cups of coffee, laden with sugar and cream. Not.
    • The Americans are horrorized to learn that coffee is really, really hard to get, with the only source being the Ottoman Empire. So, when Don Francisco Nasi (from the Istanbul Abrabanels) arrives, the first thing he does is to open the coffee trade with the city.
    • As William Harvey finds out in the first Ring of Fire short story collectionnote , thanks to this trope, one of the up-timer's top priorities when establishing trade routes is coffee.
      Piazza: We have to conserve [the photocopier's] use these days, but doing the books are no problem. Especially after your generous gift of coffee, and telling us where to find the Turkish traders to buy more.
      Harvey: I have never seen grown men weep like that. Over a beverage, no less. It was most disconcerting.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Expressed by a Russian doctor when he learns that the dementia suffered by his syphilis patients, including a former czar, was likely caused by his mercury treatments rather than by the disease itself.
    • The man who killed Louis XIII suffers this when he realizes who he killed. He thought that the mission given to him by Monsieur Gaston was only to assassinate Richelieu.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Through a quirk of fate, regiments in the USE army have names as well as numbers. In 1635: The Eastern Front, an elite regiment is formed in the Third Division to deal with problems of discipline — The Hangman.
  • Necessarily Evil: Richelieu knows that he will likely be viewed as a tyrant in the history books of the new timeline, more-so even than in those of the old, but says he must carry on regardless, as he is duty-bound to do what is best for France.
  • Nerves of Steel: Many major characters are possessed of these:
    • Mike Stearns. A retired boxer, he calls upon the training this gave him in keeping his cool many times — most explicitly after being made a general in the USE army. (Of course, anyone who watched him standing out in the open in 1632 to draw fire away from the Abrabanel carriage would know this.)
    • Jeff Higgins. Starting in 1632 — first, when he rescues Rebecca Stearns from an ambush, and second, when he takes down a dozen professional cavalrymen in the Last Stand at the high-school gymnasium.
    • Gustavus Adolphus. At one point Mike Stearns is reminded of Shelby Foote's description of Ulysses S. Grant being possessed of "four o'clock in the morning courage" when Gustav is unperturbed after being awakened with a piece of bad military news.
    • Gretchen — as demonstrated quite early on at the eponymous incident during the Battle of the Crapper.
  • Never Found the Body: Richelieu is seriously wounded in the same battle in which Louis XIII is killed, but his body is not found at the scene. By the end of the book, nobody knows for certain whether he's really dead, or just (As the uptimers call it) 'pulling an Elvis'. Everyone agrees that regardless of whether or not he's dead, so long as he isn't proven dead, he's still 'in the building' politically, which complicates matters considerably.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: An attempt by a pro-Borja cleric to purge Austria's nobility of Grantville sympathizers towards the end of The Viennese Waltz utterly destroys the credibility of the self-styled Pope in both Austria-Hungary and the Netherlands.
  • Nice to the Waiter:
    • Displaced American upper-class John and Mary Simpson are polite to their German housekeeper, but John is shocked to discover just how polite they're considered in comparison to the usual treatment servants get from German nobility of the period. In 1636: The Saxon Uprising, Prince Ulrik says that he plans to follow Simpson's lead.
    • Similarly, in the novella "The Wallenstein Gambit", Morris and Judith Roth establish a key bond with the downtime Jewish community in Prague by being courteous to their servants (drawn from the Jewish ghetto).
    • For all that Richelieu may be considered "evil" by some, he's said to always be polite to his staff, and repays loyalty from them with loyalty to them. Even the author admits that Richelieu isn't so much "evil" as he is "diametrically opposed to the USE and all its goals, because those goals threaten France, and That Is Not Acceptable". This is Truth in Television, by the way, as the real-life Richelieu was considered a Benevolent Boss and was sincerely mourned by all his staff.
    • The beginning of The Bavarian Crisis establishes that Maria Anna makes a point of knowing her servants.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The threat of widespread, untreatable, and deadly epidemics is this to James Nichols, who openly admits that he has had nightmares about pneumonic plague since the Ring of Fire. And then explains, as only a doctor can, why they should be Nightmare Fuel to everybody. invoked
  • No Man of Woman Born: Used In-Universe in the opera Arthur RexMerlin warns Guinevere (Marla Linder) that no man can defeat the sylph Nimue.
    Guinevere: No man, you say?
    But I am not a man, nor have I ever been.
  • Noble Bigot: A lot of the allies of the up-timers (and even some up-timers themselves) still hold to their own prejudices. Centuries worth of ingrained cultural acceptance of said prejudices don't usually disappear all that quickly.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: While Mannington, West Virginia circa late 1999 does not have a power plant and does have oil wells, the town of Grantville is specified to be otherwise analogous. This simplifies worldbuilding when asking questions like "How many ham radio operators would there be in a town that size?"note  Some of the fan authors have even taken tours of Mannington (guided by Flint) to help improve the accuracy of their depictions of Grantville.
  • Noodle Incident: Several uptimers apparently have colorful pasts as juvenile delinquents, irreverent hicks and/or troublemaking rednecks, and the level of detail given to these activities varies greatly. In a few cases the omniscient narrator simply describes the events, but most are just referred to in dialogue between characters, so readers might never hear exactly what happened. See There Is a God!.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: The small Appalachian Mining Town from the late 20th century becomes mighty force in 17th century Europe.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Janos Drugeth, a noble Hungarian Cavalry Officer, friend and confidant of The Emperor of Austria. He is an honorable, pious and chivalrous soldier and a Worthy Opponent of the USE. He is also courting the uptimer Noelle.
  • Oh, Crap!: Mike Steans reacts this way in 1635: The Eastern Front when Jeff Higgins shows him a Polish radio set found on a battlefield.
  • One-Sided Arm-Wrestling: In the Ring of Fire II short story "Diving Belle", Per is nervously watching his brother play the deceptively-scrawny role when the protagonist, Ginny Cochran, enters the taproom of the Silver Eel bar where the match is taking place.
  • One-Steve Limit:
    • Averted. Several characters, including the fictional ones, share the same first names. Tom Stone and Tom Simpson, for one, not only share the same first name, they also have the same initials.
    • Lampshaded in The Bavarian Crisis, which points out the numerous historical aversions. By the end the siblings Ferdinand and Maria Anna are married to the siblings Fernando and Mariana. And they're all Habsburgs.
    • There's at least two Joe Buckleys in the series; the most prominent one is an Intrepid Reporter in The Galileo Affair, while another is autopsied by Anne Jefferson in a Grantville Gazette story. (It's a hallowed tradition at Baen Books to use the name "Joe Buckley" for Designated Victim characters.)
    • Despite technically being completely different names, it doesn't help that the Countess of Schwartzburg-Rudolstadt and the Landgravine of Hesse-Kassel are named 'Emilie' and 'Amalie', respectively.
    • In 1632, Wilhelm of Hesse-Kassel's name is Anglicized as William, presumably to avoid confusion with Wilhelm of Saxe-Weimar, who is introduced in the same scene. This was dropped in subsequent books.
    • But Flint has said that if he'd known 1632 was going to be more than a one-off novel, he'd have chosen a name for the town priest, Larry Mazzare, that was less similar to the historical character, Cardinal Mazarini.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Gretchen Richter's baptismal name is Maria Margaretha, but it hardly ever comes up.note  Her younger sister, Annelise, was baptised "Anna Elisabeth" but is never called that.
  • Out of Focus: Most of the characters from the first book have fallen out of focus by now as more minor characters have taken center stage and the early protagonists have taken on relatively stable leadership roles. Mike Stearns was the protagonist in 1632, but his main role in the books during his tenure as Prime Minister has been sending people on dangerous, long-term missions, and reading reports about events hundreds of miles away and discussing their implications with his advisor. Eventually, however, he comes back to center stage as a major general commanding one of the three divisions in the USE army invading Saxony in the novels 1635: The Eastern Front and 1636: The Saxon Uprising.

    Tropes P to R 
  • Parental Abandonment: Gustavus Adolphus to Kristina, though mildly; he loves his daughter dearly, and she him, but spends a considerable amount of time away from her while on campaign (The fact that her mother is mentally unstable and gets killed in the crossfire of an assassination attempt doesn't help). Fortunately, the effects of this are mitigated thanks to Caroline Platzer and Prince Ulrik, who provide Kristina with some much-needed adult guidance.
  • Percussive Prevention:
    • In 1634: The Baltic War, Tom Simpson punches out Archbishop Laud of Canterbury to facilitate his rescue from the Tower of London.
    • In 1635: The Papal Stakes, when Cardinal Borja's forces are besieging the Castel Gandolfo, the Pope expresses his intention to stay and be killed in order to prevent a schism in the Catholic Church. Harry Lefferts punches him in the jaw and hauls him bodily out the postern gate.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage:
    • Though it started out as a betrothal of political convenience, Prince Ulrik of Denmark and Princess Kristina of Sweden have grown quite fond of each other by the time of 1635: The Eastern Front and 1636: The Saxon Uprising. One of Ulrik's biggest worries was being married off to a boring, court-spoiled noblewoman, and he finds Kristina's feistiness and intelligence a good prospect for the future. Kristina has grown to trust and care for Ulrik, to the point that she admits that she greatly fears the possibility of him leaving her. Of course, it's still all chaste at this point since Ulrik is in his early twenties while Kristina is eight.
    • Landgravine Amalie Elizabeth of Hesse-Cassel's marriage to Landgrave William V was of course political. She knew she'd grown fond of him but the depth of her grief over his death on the Eastern Front surprises her.
    • Despite the disparity in their ages — he is in his fifties, she is 19 — Ludwig Guenther and Emilie are consistently presented as loving, mutually supportive, and politically on much the same page.
  • Perspective Flip: In 1632, Bernhard/Bernard of Saxe-Weimar is shown as an ambitious, arrogant Jerkass who took Richelieu's money to betray Gustav Adolf. The Baltic War shows the perspective of Bernhard and his faction; according to them, Gustav happily accepted the help of the Saxe-Weimar brothers and then gave away Thuringia from under them while implicitly accusing them of negligence.
    No, no, no. In this, the dukes of Saxe-Weimar are proving to be as petty as any German noblemen. In their absence—protracted absence, let me remind you—the people of their principality have seen fit to organize themselves to survive the winter and the depredations of the war. What were they supposed to do, Axel? Starve quietly, lest the tranquility of the dukes be disturbed?note 
    As if the reason for their "protracted absence" had not been that they were serving in the king's own army! As if they had been luxuriating at some mineral hot springs rather than fighting in his campaigns!
  • Pet the Dog: In the opening scene of 1633, Richelieu is genuinely delighted by the gift of a Siamese kitten. The same chapter establishes that he's also Nice to the Waiter.
  • The Power of Rock: Or, in this case, The Power of Musical Theater. Marla's rendition of "Do You Hear the People Sing" is used to rally the USE against Oxenstierna in The Devil's Opera.
  • Powder Keg Crowd:
    • At the end of 1633, one of these was gathering in Magdeburg after word of the death of Hans Richter reached the general public. Mike Stearns and company defuse the situation before it actually blows up, though.
    • The French Huguenot conspiracy group from The Dreeson Incident set up an anti-vaccination sign-waving protest as a cover for a synagogue attack, which was a cover in turn to draw the Grantville authorities in order to assassinate them. The result became a nationwide crusade against Antisemitism and witch hunting by the Committees of Correspondence.
  • Politically Correct History: Depending on where you look within the series as a whole, played straight or subverted to hell and back, the latter often with a Lampshade Hanging on how Common Knowledge history is sometimes less than accurate.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Bryant Holloway in The Dreeson Incident gathers protesters-for-hire for an Astroturf demonstration that turns into a riot. He's also a sexist, abusive bigot who believes in a Marital Rape License.
  • Popularity Food Chain: Discussed in "Other People's Money"
    In addition to the traditional jocks, nerds, and toughs, there was now JROTC or cadets, artists, and entrepreneurs. Like at any high school, there were those who fit into more than one group, with a different rank depending on the category and several subcategories.
    ... There was also, as there usually is, a set of the elite: the most popular and successful from the other groups. Who was in that last grouping depended on who you asked.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • In 1632, Rebecca utilizes this to stop a roomful of arguing people in their tracks.
      Rebecca: "I think we should register people at-large." "I think we should register them by residence." Who gives a shit?
    • Gustav Adolf doesn't care about swearing in general, but things are really serious when he blasphemes, such as the Establishing Character Moment when he learns of the sack of Magdeburg or when he confronts Oxenstierna after his recovery.
    • In 1633, John Simpson is shocked by his wife's dropping a curse in an argument that ultimately resulted in their reconciliation with their estranged son Thomas.
  • Pregnant Badass: Three in the climax of 1632. As expressed by James Nichols, "Boy, did they pick the wrong time to piss off pregnant women."
    • Rebecca runs into a group of Croats on the outskirts of town, and thanks to the shotgun she was gifted with takes out one Croat with a point-blank blast aimed at his crotch, and brings down another's horse.
    • Julie Sims is already upset because her pregnancy was unexpected and she worried about her then-boyfriend's reactions, but the attack really got her mad. With Nichols' help reloading her rifles, from a school window she cuts wide swathes through the Croats as they clash with the forces of Captain Gars, and then on her way down the stairs she plows a path through people like a football player weighing much more than herself.
    • Gretchen Higgens wasn't quite as active as the other two examples, but she did participate in the gunning down of fleeing Croats while riding on a school bus being driven by her brother Hans that was chasing the retreating cavalry.
  • Present Company Excluded: In 1632, during his tirade over Magdeburg:
    Gustav Adolf: God damn all princes and noblemen of Germany! Sired by Sodom out of Gomorrah! [to the German noblemen in the tent] Please accept my apologies [...] I do not, of course, include you in that foul tribe.
  • Princess Classic: When investigating the royal marriage market in The Bavarian Crisis, Rubens considers that Archduchess Maria Anna may be the closest to this that exists (the book was originally titled The Austrian Princess).
  • Promotion to Parent: All too often.
    • After their town is sacked and their family is dragged away as Camp Followers Hans and Gretchen end up as the co-parents of their siblings. This as much as anything is what makes Jeff fall in love with her.
    • Prince Ulrik is providing some much needed emotional support and stability to his fiancee Princess Kristina, a child who's gotten all too little of either from her mentally ill mother and absent (albeit loving) father.
  • Propaganda Machine:
    • A major part of The Devil's Opera is the production of an opera about King Arthur in order to make Magdeburg look more like a grand city and worthy capital of the USE than Berlin, which is Oxenstierna's capital (Choosing the subject of the opera to be a sleeping King who will return in his nation's hour of need being a deliberate parallel to the incapacitated Emperor). That plot becomes something of a "Shaggy Dog" Story when Oxenstierna loses the actual war a month before their ultimate weapon in the propaganda war is ready.
    • The Committees of Correspondence thrive on this. Every underground group outside of Germany is provided with pamphlets and instructions to spread democracy and set up Golden Arches for young workers to rebel against authority.
    • One of the most important items on the army supply wagons, according to General Mike Stearns, is a portable printing press.
  • Pun-Based Title: Several of the books of the Pope subplot, started with The Galileo Affair, rely on puns regarding the Papal States.
    • The Cannon Law is a prime example of one. Normally, "canon law" doesn't involve any artillery...
    • The Papal Stakes, the follow-up to The Cannon Law, plays off the Papal States, the "country within a country" that contains the Vatican.
    • The Cardinal Virtues centers around France and a plot to unseat Richelieu, after which the uptimers find that the Cardinal was much more virtuous than his replacement...
  • Rags to Riches: Pretty much every up-timer has knowledge and skills that could be parlayed into a small fortune down-time, but Tom Stone and David Bartley stand out.
    • Tom Stone was an aged hippie who only studied pharmacology so he could make LSD. He lived on a mostly deserted commune in the woods and had no interest in making more money than he needed to survive. When he fell in love, and his fiancée's father's wouldn't agree to the marriage unless he had a trade, he started to produce dyed thread. Since he was able to make the only bright, colorfast dyes in all of Europe, this made a huge amount of money. He used that success to produce medicines, so he could help more people, and things snowballed until he ended up head of the largest chemical conglomerate in the world.
    • David Bartley was a high-school sophomore who turned a wild attempt at building a sewing machine into a venture capitalism group, and made so much money by the time he turned eighteen that he can prop up a failing national currency with his personal fortune and the loans he could get.
    • The Barbies become so successful in business that their efforts to revitalize the economy of Vienna escalate to the point where some observers claimed that they had bought Austria, and they weren't entirely wrong.
  • Rags to Royalty: Uptime girls in the Barbie Consortium go from ordinary kids, to wealthy venture capitalists, to Imperial Princesses of Austria-Hungary in 1636.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: Gustav Adolf isn't just a king, he's one of history's greatest generals. Also, a pretty intimidating man in his own right.
  • Rape as Drama: Olivia Villarreal in "Equal Rights".
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Well, Grantville thinks so, particularly the men. In the middle of a long war with notoriously undisciplined forces, they often need to enforce this view aggressively. General Steans is renowned for being A Father to His Men and rejecting the harsh discipline of the time. But when men under his command get drunk and rape some local girls, he has them strapped to artillery pieces and blown into mist.
  • Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: And the Assiti, the aliens that the prologue states caused this, who we will probably never hear from again, they learn this lesson the hard way. Another civilization, the Fta Tei, "[they] knew nothing of their origins on a distant planet once called Earth, much less a minor disaster which had occurred there. [They] exterminated the Assiti simply because, after many stern warnings, they persisted in practicing their dangerous and irresponsible art."
  • Real Men Wear Pink: In a Grantville Gazette short story, downtime experimental aviators tend to wear pink scarfs, reasoning that Jesse Wood made the first aircraft pink as the color of courage. The actual reason it's pink, however, is because of the Formica counter top material he used for part of the construction of the aircraft's fuselage, not out of any particular emotional reasoning regarding the color.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • King Gustav. At least in part, this seems to be because Gustav really believes in the divine part of the notion of the divine right of kings, and believes that With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility, so he has a duty to be a wise and decent ruler. Also, he feels the uptimers were sent as a message from God about ends and means. He won't unquestioningly accept everything they say, but he will consider it, because to ignore them would be to ignore God's message.
    • In later books, Ferdinand III of Austria-Hungary is far more flexible than his father (he persuaded him on his deathbed to forgive Maria Anna and revoke the Edict of Restitution) and is doing his best with the situation he's inherited.
  • Recruited from the Gutter:
    • In "Seas of Fortune", Henrique Pereira da Costa's friend and assistant Mauricio was his father's slave. On his inheriting his father's estate, Henrique immediately freed him and employed him as an equal.
    • In the original story Gretchen was rescued from being a Sex Slave by the Grantsville Army and marries a soldier, gaining a reputation as a Rabble Rouser.
  • Red Baron:
    • The downtime Germans give Jesse Wood, an Air Force reserve aerial tanker pilot and commander of the downtime U.S. Air Force, the title of "Der Adler" (The Eagle).
    • Mike Stearns becomes, as the series progresses, known as "The Prince of Germany" or just "The Prince." In The Saxon Uprising newspaper headlines are quoted saying things like, "The Prince Victorious" and "Prince Confers With Emperor" (Emperor referring to Gustav Adolf).
    • Axel Oxenstierna comes to be known as "The Ox". It isn't meant as a compliment — political cartoons criticizing his policies depict him as a minotaur menacing figures representing the freedoms the USE is supposed to stand for.
    • After the coach accident that gives him numerous broken bones, Charles I starts being referred to as "The Cripple King".
    • Julie Mackay manages to reverse the trope: her marksmanship is so renowned that people start referring to snipers in general as "joolis".
  • Reformed Criminal: the Grantville Gazette short stories written about the downtime NCIS (the stories are explicit homages to the TV show of the same name) have more than a few reformed criminals in the service, including the main male protagonist.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
    • The Real Life coup de théâtre that Cardinal Mazarini pulled off as part of the settlement of the War of the Mantuan Succession, riding between two warring parties waving a blank piece of paper and saying it was the formal settlement document for the war to buy time for the real thing to be finished, is referenced in the novella Between the Armies and in 1634: The Galileo Affair.
    • Tsar Mikhail I Romanov and the Tsarina need to get into the town of Bors, who most likely won't side with them in the power struggle he accidentally started in support of a minor noble family and their up-timer employee. So they defuse the situation by standing on top of the barge they're on and wave to the soldiers and people watching them.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Later in the series (but even as early as 1633) it can feel like this is happening a lot, if you miss or skip the side novels and short story collections.
  • Revenge Fic: In a way the whole series is a Roaring Rampage of Revenge for the Thirty Years' War.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Played with. The Grantsvillers as such are more interested in settling down and making a life and indeed except for the technology fit in to the system better then one might think. The Committees of Correspondence are constantly suspected of having tendencies toward this-even by Americans.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Surely this was the point of presenting Richelieu with a Siamese kitten. The image of the elegant, aristocratic Cardinal stroking a sapphire eyed siamese lazing in the lap of his scarlet robes as he schemes is one to conjure with.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Subverted and played straight. The fact that more advanced technology is a huge advantage in battle is unquestioned. But it's also pointed out that constantly chasing the most advanced weapons can be a disadvantage: they're harder to make, they tend to require more support and a better supply chain, they may be more delicate, and they're harder to train soldiers to use. Their ultimate strategy is to produce weapons that are one or two generations more advanced than the enemy (which downtimers can easily learn to both make and use), and backing them up with sparing use of higher tech (like airplanes, APCs and uptime sniper rifles).
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: While Flint's general contempt for both aristocracy and royalty are very clear, there are several royal characters who are both active in the story and clearly heroic. The most obvious example is Gustav, though his daughter Kristina and Prince Ulrik of Denmark become as prominent over time.
    "His name was Gustavus Adolphus, and there were those among his followers who thought him the only monarch in Europe worthy of the name. They were right, and the man was about to prove it. For one of the few times in human history, royalty was not a lie."
  • Royally Screwed Up: Don Fernando is not happy that up-time the Hapsburg are mainly known for this, in particular the "Hapsburg lip".
  • Ruling Couple:
    • Mike and Rebecca aren't technically monarchs, but this is their character dynamic.
    • Kristina and Ulrik will probably become this. Kristina, of course, will have the final say.
    • While her husband is officially its head of state, everyone knows that Amalie Elisabeth of Hesse-Kassel has just as much power as her husband — and more brains.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Elisabeth Lukretia von Teschen might be amused by the Viennese crowd remaking downtime Vienna according to an uptime guidebook of the city. She is not pleased with the people who have taken to mixing their apparel from 400 years of fashion. All at once.
  • Runaway Fiancé: In The Bavarian Crisis, Maria Anna is engaged to her uncle Maximilian of Bavaria but eventually flees to marry another, her cousin Don Fernando. Her original intended goes postal as only a 17th c. absolute ruler can arresting, torturing and executing people right, left and center until even downtimers think he's insane and Maria Anna was justified in running away from him.
  • Running Gag:
    • From The Saxon Uprising:
      Madrid, capital of Spain
      There was no reaction to [important recent event] in the court of Spain.
      They had no radio. They wouldn’t receive the news for days yet.
    • Tom Stone made LSD in The '60s.
    • Melissa Mailey would make Harry Lefferts/Darryl McCarthy/whoever has annoyed her write lines on the blackboard, if there was a blackboard around for her to use.

    Tropes S to Z 
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The low-key, "phlegmatic", and very smart Prince Ulrik of Denmark, and his betrothed, the fiery, hotheaded, and ferociously intelligent Princess Kristina of Sweden.
  • Schizo Tech: A major part of the series. Grantville brings knowledge from 300 years in the future, but only a limited supply of actual machines and other inventions. They quickly realize that they can produce less advanced machines to supplement what they have. So we see things like stone towers being built as a broadcasting platform for modern radio equipment, or modern lathes being used to make more precise cannons for 17th century battles.
    • The Americans realize early on that maintaining the technological level of the US from the year 2000 will be impossible in some ways and impractical in many more ways (see Rock Beats Laser above), so they begin pursuing a policy of gearing down to roughly 19th-century technology for most things, supplemented by higher tech when possible. A naval campaign in the book 1633 consisted of limpet mines on enemy vessels planted by scuba divers, three speedboats appropriated from civilians fitted with rocket launchers made in a high school shop class, one of which was forced to make a suicide charge, and two barely-tested Alleged Airplanes running on car engines ... all to buy time to finish building boats modeled closely on American Civil War vessels.
    • In a short story, when one character wants to recreate the internet, and realizes that he has to start by making phone lines. By the time his group has an actual plan in place, this has devolved to building telegraph lines nailed directly to trees.
  • Screw the Rules, They're Not Real!: In 1634:
    Patrick: So, here we are in Southwark, about to test a legend. Is there really such a thing as a whore with a heart of gold?
    Leebrick: And after it's all over, you'll insist the test was false, anyway.
    Patrick: Why would I do that?
    Towson: You idiot, I'll be glad to set this great heavy thing down finally, I can tell you that. Patrick, you benighted Irishman, there's enough silver in here to offset any reward of Cork's. Halfway, at least.
    Patrick: You miserable bastard, Leebrick. You're cheating!
    Towson: That's why he's the captain, and we but his lowly lieutenants.
  • Sea Mine: Using an uptime encyclopedia, in 1634: The Baltic War the Danish develop mines to help defend against the USE Navy. However, given King Christian is more enamored of Awesome, but Impractical weapons, it's only done as a side project, leaving Denmark with only a small supply of mines that aren't particularly reliable. Still, in the hands of Ulrik and Baldur, they're able to do some damage.
  • Sealed Orders: Cardinal Richelieu has become fond of using sealed orders after reading about them in an up-time book, preventing drunken sailors on shore leave from accidentally spilling secrets.
  • Second Love:
    • Melissa Mailey, for James Nichols, who lost his wife in an auto accident years before the Ring of Fire.
      Nichols: I grieved, Melissa. Long and hard. I loved her dearly. But it's been long enough.
    • Ruy Sanchez de Casador y Ortiz, for Sharon Nichols, much to her profound astonishment.
  • Self-Defeating Prophecy: Seventeenth century nobles have gotten into the habit of looking up their uptime fates and doing what they can to avert outcomes they don't like.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Sometimes the methods seventeenth century nobles choose to to avert their historical fate according to uptime history books just make it come sooner, most prominently with England's Charles I inciting exactly the unrest that ultimately lead to his death by Oliver Cromwell in the original timeline, by trying to suppress it with arrests of those who would have originally been responsible for the parting of ways betwixt his head and neck.
  • Sergeant Rock:
    • Gretchen to the camp followers in the first book, doing the best she can under the circumstances to keep them organized and in fairly good health.
    • In The Papal Stakes Frank Stone calls a Spanish officer "Sergent Rock" in order to mock him.
  • Sexual Karma: Jeff and Gretchen have a good time on their first night as a married couple, unlike her previous sexual encounters with the mercenaries she and her extended family were camp followers to, the narration notes how she gave her virginity, in a non-physical sense, to Jeff.
  • Sexy Coat Flashing: In 1632, Gretchen almost does this with a bathrobe to Jeff Higgins, but decides to stop at the last moment. (It works anyway.)
  • Shared Universe: Fan Fic authors are invited to submit stories which are regularly published in the "Grantville Gazette" and "Ring of Fire" anthologies. So far, there are two novels, The Kremlin Games and Sea of Fortune, that started out as serialized Grantville Gazette stories before being compiled into full novels, with at least one other collection of short stories being recompiled into their own eBook. Fan Fic probably makes up the majority of the wordcount for the series at this point, and even the books by "real" authors are almost invariably written by two or more people.
  • Shipping: Of Historical Domain Characters, no less! Eric Flint admitted that part of the reason for the plot behind The Bavarian Crisis was that he and co-author Virginia DeMarce were "firmly convinced that this sprightly lass (Maria Anna of Austria) can do a lot better for herself than Maximillian (of Bavaria)". invoked
  • Shipper on Deck: Mike and Rebecca ship Melissa Mailey/James Nichols in 1632. Melissa, meanwhile, ships Mike/Rebecca and Jeff/Gretchen.
    Melissa: Michael Stearns, there is something absolutely preposterous about you playing matchmaker for your former schoolteacher.
    • Mike is also partial to Alex/Julie, mostly since he shares her father's and uncle's low opinion of Chip. Dad and Uncle pretty much seem inclined toward Julie/anyone who isn't Chip.
  • Shotgun Wedding:
    • Eddie Cantrell ends up marrying the oldest daughter of King Christian IV of Denmark when he's caught with her after two and half days of sex in a prototype Danish submarine (long story). Although, it's made clear later that the situation was engineered by the Danish royal family so they'd end up with a son-in-law who's not only a distinguished naval hero but also a technical wizard with knowledge of uptime technology.
    • That's the most prominent and important example, but these seem to be happening all the time. It's rural West Virginia to start with and all reliable birth control ran out in months. The United States of Europe is being founded by up-timers with 20th-century views on sex and down-timers with 17th-century views on marriage. Lots and lots of babies are getting born, or at least conceived, out of wedlock.
    • Played with in the case of Wes Jenkins and Clara Bachmeier. They marry via the old agree-that-we're-married method while locked alone together in a pantry, but get it quietly formalized once they finally get back to Grantville — by which time Clara's expecting.
    • Near the end of 1632, Julie Sims is apprehensive about telling Alexander Mackay that she's pregnant after her contraceptives failed. Gustav Adolf promptly arranges a wedding on a day's notice, though the groom turns out to be less than reluctant.
      "Won't tolerate such behavior on the part of one of my officers," gruffed Gustav, in blithe disregard of his own not-entirely-reputable history. "Bastardy is a shame before God!"
  • Shown Their Work: Flint does this a bit but it is more common for the Expanded Universe authors to go off on tangents where characters talk about the author's pet issue in loving detail. For instance, any story which Virginia DeMarce (a genealogist) participates in the creation of will feature long disquisitions by the characters about events in which family interrelationships play a key part.
  • Signature Item Clue: In 1635: The Papal Stakes, the presence of "uptime" casings for shotgun and rifle rounds for use in 20th century gun designs reveals the presence of United States of Europe agents and groups, in investigations by Cardinal Borja's assistant Pedro Dolors into the whereabouts of Pope Urban VII.
  • Single-Issue Psychology: While incredibly heartwarming and awesome, the scene of Gretchen and Jeff Higgins was incredibly goofy and a little jarring for those who had studied psychology about how fast she "got over it". In a broader sense, the way downtimers react (in part thanks to Eric Flint's "Middle Man" ideology) can also break a little flow, adapting to monumental changes both social and technological far faster and with better results than many "Middle Man" people can do to things that had barely happened in their own society. It could be explained that since they'd been living in a literal Hell on Earth, it was easier and better to just go "insane" as put by Gretchen, but still it can come as quite unrealistic, in a human behaviorist kind of way.
  • Significant Anagram:
    • Assiti is "As it is": "a location is picked up whole and dropped in another time, with only the resources they would have on hand—As It Is—to survive."
    • Aft Tei, might be one, the most likely meaning is "It Fate"...
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil: Suffice it to say that no up-timer has a favorable view of slavery and no downtimer that does is shown with any redeeming traits. One of the themes of the books is the attempt to avert the catastrophes that would happen in real life after the point of divergence and slavery is probably second only to the Shoah in the priorities of the protagonists on their "don't let this happen" list. One short story centers around a plan to make cotton farming economically feasible without the need for slaves (mechanical harvesters and cotton gins, which can do the work of a dozen slaves or more and don't need to be fed year round), thus removing one of the key factors that created the demand for a large scale slave trade.
  • Sliding Scale of Alternate History Plausibility: Overall Type II. The initial Point of Divergence is Alien Space Bats material, but everything following the Ring of Fire never goes below Type III. The effects of introducing new technologies is generally very well researched and realistic, with everything being limited by the materials, knowledge, and trained people available. The social and political implications are more speculative: the historical figures and social backdrop is well-researched, but rapidity with which the downtimers adjust to 21st century politics, social customs and legal philosophies is pretty optimistic.
  • Socialite: Mary Simpson, of the pampered yet sweet variety. An impeccably mannered, upper-class Navy wife and later CEO's wife up-time, she parlays these skills into an absolute flourishing of the arts in Magdeburg, while also sweetening the increased taxes on the aristocracy by offering perfectly legal tax-breaks for charitable donations to the arts, hospitals, etc. Her grace, politesse, and ability to effectively schmooze with and win over Germany's aristocracy earns her the name of "The Dame of Magdeburg".
  • Spit Take: In 1635: The Dreeson Incident, Chad Jenkins, politically conservative in the up-time US sense, winds up spewing his coffee clear across the table he was sitting at when he finds out that the town he represents will essentially be the "hippie district" in the State of Thuringia-Franconia's Senate, with the state capital moving from Grantville to Bamberg, but leaving behind most of the education and technology centers.
  • The Spock: Father Mutio Vitelleschi, Superior General of the Society of Jesus and is pretty much The Spymaster for Pope Urban VIII. Described as being unnervingly calm, composed, and carefully logical (he did teach logic in Real Life, after all). The pope and his nephew have expressed gratitude that the Jesuits have an extra oath for personal loyalty to the Pope, as they shudder to think what he would be like as an enemy.
  • The Spymaster: Don Francisco Nasi, for Mike Stearns. Don Estuban Miro, for Ed Piazza. Father Mutio Vitelleschi, for Pope Urban VIII.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Andreas Schardius in "1636: The Devil's Opera". It proves to be his undoing.
  • Steampunk: What American society ends up resembling once they "gear down".
    • Some Diesel Punk as well since the Americans have also started petroleum-drilling operations and have made planes and ironclad warship using repurposed land vehicle engines. At the beginning, diesel engines were swapped out for gasoline ones in the school buses, mine truck APCs, etc. because the Ring of Fire included a large, already-tapped deposit of natural gas which spark-ignition engines can be converted to run on but compression-ignition ones can't.
    • As of 1635: The Eastern Front Europe in general is promising to become this in a big way. Several companies and governments are building steam powered tanks and are working on computers using fluidics instead of electronics. Also the Ottoman Empire has dirigible bombersnote  rumored in The Eastern Front, confirmed in 1636: The Saxon Uprising. They're used in the conquest of Baghdad (offscreen). In the short story "Upward Mobility" a blimp company gets started. In the novella "Four Days Along the Danube" they get co-opted by the military for scouting and supply runs as well as napalm bombing runs. In 1635: The Papal Stakes these blimps play a key role in the attempt to rescue Frank and Giovanna Stone from Spanish captivity.
    • It is discussed that an actual steampunk-style society may emerge, given that steam technology is easier to start from the ground than oil-powered, and uptimers include several aficionados of steam power, happy to provide efficient designs.
  • Stereotype Flip: Related to the Germanic Depressives example above. Given how the uptimers are applying uptime government bureaucracy techniques to a chunk of the fractured 17th Century Germany, there is general amusement regarding the fact that in the new time line the traditionally German stereotype of "Alles in ordnung" is fast becoming an irrevocably American stereotype.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: In 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies, Maarten Tromp is annoyed when a fellow Dutchman contemplates drinking to brace himself for an important meeting.
    Jan, don't reinforce our enemies' characterization of us.
  • Strawman Political:
    • Thoroughly averted with John Chandler Simpson, a staunch conservative who disagrees with the protagonist on almost every issue and is also in opposition to the author's real-life political beliefs, but who is portrayed generally sympathetically and gets a lot of character development in later books, indeed being one of the prime protagonists of1634: The Baltic War. He even features as a viewpoint character every once in a while, and is depicted as a thoroughly decent human being and something of a badass despite being a political opponent. The authors make it clear that while he'd have been a disaster as a political leader if he had achieved his original aim of supplanting Mike Stearns in 1632, he has found his niche as Chief of Naval Operations of the U.S.E. Navy, in which role all of his strengths of character can be brought into play.
    • Though 1635: The Dreeson Incident gets pretty bad about it with the 250 Club members. One literally thinks that "conspirator" and "Commie" are synonyms. Another also thinks that because the US was allied with France against Germany in WWII, the French are the good guys and the Germans are the bad guys now, despite the fact that they're living in Germany and mercenaries paid by the French had tried to burn the town to the ground a few years before.
  • Succession Crisis:
    • In The Cardinal Virtues, King Louis XIII is killed by men in the employ of his brother Gaston on the same day that his Queen goes into labor delivering their first son. Leading many people to question who the rightful King of France is: Monsieur Gaston or the infant Louis XIV.
    • Various noble houses across the USE have different internal rules as to how to determine the appropriate heir to their lands, which causes a great deal of confusion on occasion. Eventually Gustav Adolf steps in and declares that they can have whatever succession rules they like, so long as they follow three rules. 1: Each house has to explicitly write their inheritance rules down, so everyone knows what they are. 2: Once written down, they can't change them. 3: If they ever end up in a situation where there is no acceptable heir under the rules they chose, their lands revert to the crown.
  • Sudden Lack of Signal: In the original 1632, the radio and the phones in Grantville stop working when the town gets transported to the Thirty Years' War era.
  • Superweapon Surprise: Frequently in the first book. For example, the battle that pitted a tercio of pikemen and musketeers against an M60 and rockets. It doesn't last long for the tercio. Eventually other nations gain enough understanding of uptime technical skills to develop their own superweapons to turn on the Americans (and each other).
  • Swap Teleportation: When the town of Grantville is sent back in time, what is actually transported is a sphere about seven miles across. That includes the town, some of the outlying farms, and part of the coal mine below the town. The introduction to the first book makes it clear that this volume was exchanged with an identical volume from the 1632 end, which was mostly forest and farmland.
  • Tactful Translation:
    • When Gustav Adolf, in 1632, disbelieves that Julie Sims can shoot accurately at a distance far in excess of even the finest firearms of the day, her fiancé translates her acceptance of the challenge without mentioning that she called him a fathead.
    • In 1634: The Galileo Affair, when Sharon is relaying to a bedridden Ruy Sanchez the gist of an argument involving a mob outside the USE embassy in Venice seeking vengeance for the murder of Joe Buckley, which they believe was done by the Spanish envoy currently in the building, she mentions that she's cleaning many obscenities from the report, and muses that "in another universe I should look into getting a job as a UN translator".
  • Talking Your Way Out: Done by accident in one of the short stories. A Guild papermaker, driven out of business by an up-time paper mill, decides to murder the man who ruined his livelihood. He finds the man eating lunch in his mill's cafeteria. Upon learning the other man is a professional papermaker, the mill owner starts talking shop with the man who plans to kill him, and eventually mentions that he's planning on starting a new product line and needs a foreman to supervise the production. Upon finding himself suddenly no longer unemployed, the guildsman gives up his homicidal intentions.
  • Tank Goodness: While not exactly a tank, the coal trucks modified with armor and firing ports practically serve that role, as well as that of an APC, in the universe as 17th century weaponry can do little against them.
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: During Grantville's first post-Ring of Fire news broadcast, Rebecca tactfully suggests that the Germans might want to teach the Americans how to make proper beer, instead of "that colored water the Americans confuse it with". Melissa can't hold back the laughter after that.
  • Tear Off Your Face: In 1635: The Eastern Front, an explosive trap set to take out a fleeing John George blows his wife's face off of her skull, the face winding up plastered onto the hindquarters of one of the horses hauling their carriage.
  • Throwing the Fight: Hans Metzger was ordered to do this in a boxing match in The Devil's Opera for a purse large enough to ensure that he could care for his crippled sister for years. He refused to do it on general principle (Though he nearly ended up losing legitimately), earning him the wrath of his employer, who sends toughs after him to reclaim the prize money. They kill him, but not before he manages to kill or maim all of them.
  • This Is My Boomstick: 'Downtime' Soldiers find shotguns either a wonderful or a horrifying improvement over contemporary musketry, depending on if said shotguns are held by them or pointed at them.
  • Time Travel: Only used to set up the basic premise, though discussed in-universe several places in 1632. The fictional Story Within a Story "Flight 19 to Magdeburg", in a Grantville Gazette short story of the same name, suggests that the Real Life flight of five TBM Avengers lost in The Bermuda Triangle in December of 1945 were transported back to the past.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: How does one properly describe an event will happen three hundred years from now in an alternate history? One noble suggests that finding an answer would be a useful task to put philosophers to solving.
  • Time-Traveling Jerkass: It's mentioned in passing that the (literal) Alien Space Bats who tossed the town back in time to the Thirty Years' War are a bunch of jerks who perform these kind of acts all of the time as a kind of self-proclaimed "art." The note that provides this Handwave finishes by mentioning that the aforementioned aliens were completely annihilated shortly after transporting Grantville by another alien race who was fed up with their crap.
  • Title by Year: As a reference to the setting's year.
  • Token Minority:
    • James and Sharon Nichols are the only black uptimers, though given the region Grantville came from it's not unreasonable that most uptimers are Caucasian. The only other exception is Frank Jackson's Vietnamese wife Diane, the only uptime Asian in Grantville. "Power To The People" introduces Nissa Pritchard, a black operator of the Grantville power plant.
    • Carl Shockley who appears in the short story "A Night at the Ballet" describes his mom as a Thai war bride, but was an out-of-towner working in Grantville at the time of the Ring of Fire.
    • The short story "Cinco de Mayo" revels that at least a half dozen Mexican-Americans got caught in the Ring of Fire.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Julie Sims isn't opposed to dressing up in a "feminine" way or doing traditionally "female" things, but is a crack shot and was at one point under consideration for attempting to gain a slot on the US Olympic team in the biathlon.
  • Too Dumb to Live: One character's prior love interest, a highschool jock with no particular weapons skills, picks a fight with her current love interest. Her current love interest is a veteran mercenary Violent Glaswegian who happens to come from a culture where dueling to the death is common and accepted, has just come from a dental appointment without painkillers, and is wearing a battle-grade saber at the time. Only the intervention of Michael Stearns saves him from being skewered by said saber.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Jeff Higgins was a Dungeons & Dragons nerd before the Ring of Fire, but within a year, he's a Badass Biker soldier. By 1636, he's a Lt. Colonel Badass, commanding "The Hangman", which is widely reputed to be the most badass regiment in the USE Army. His unit ultimately brings an effective end to the USE Civil War by killing the enemy commander in battle. Before long, legends insist that Jeff personally decapitated him.
    • Pam Miller starts as forty-something conservationist with frequent debilitating bouts of self doubt. By the end of "Second Chance Bird" she's a full on Action Girl ship captain with a fearsome reputation for slaughtering pirates and slavers. Oh, and she saved the dodo from extinction for good measure.
    • In 1631, Gretchen Richter was a camp follower who nobody outside of the army that murdered her father and dragged her along with them had ever heard of. By 1635, her work with the Committees of Correspondence had turned her into the most feared woman in Europe, and also (With the possible exception of Rebecca Stearns) the most politically powerful.
  • Trading Bars for Stripes: Mike Stearns and James Nichols.
    Mike: So, Doc. Did the judge give you a choice? Between the Army and the Marines, I mean.
    James: Not hardly! "Marines for you, Nichols."
    Mike: You poor bastard. He let me pick. Since I wasn't crazy, I took the Army. I wanted no part of Parris Island.
  • Trapped in the Past: The West Virginia coal-mining town of Grantville is translocated to southern Germany in the middle of the Thirty Years' War by an "art" project by Alien Space Bats, utterly shattering the power structure and world view of Reformation Europe. The problems of the period, including communication with the natives by the transplanted West Virginians, wars and other conflicts, and the spread and control of diseases both of the 17th and 20th centuries are discussed in detail, often as significant plot points.
  • Translation Convention: Many uptimers speak of, and are shown to be, learning German, but 99% of the dialogue is still in English. Of course, within the USE, German is merging with English into a new dialect called Amideutsch, which would be incomprehensible to 21st Century Germans and English-speakers alike.
  • True Companions: The "Four Horsemen", close friends from before the Ring of Fire that became almost inseparable for the first few months following it, as all of their respective parents had been left in 2000.
  • Unable to Support a Wife: Being as the story takes place in the seventeenth century, this trope is alive and well. The most prominent early appearance is from the first Ring of Fire short story collection: in "To Dye For" by Mercedes Lackey, Tom "Stoner" Stone has to overcome this before his father of the woman he loves will allow their union. The solution he comes up with, as mentioned in earlier tropes, makes him one of the richest men in Europe.
  • Unfortunate Names: Agathe Donner, "Tata" for short. Also, Fuchs von Bimbach tends to be referred to as "von Bimbo" by up-timers. One of the U.S.E. Army's division commanders rejoices in the first name, or perhaps nickname, "Dodo".
  • The Unsolved Mystery: In the short story "The Vice President's Plane is Down", someone sabotages the eponymous plane, although everyone onboard survives except for a Disposable Pilot. The authorities initially investigate the crime as an attempted political assassination, but other potential motives show up. Another passenger on the plane was an aristocrat about to disinherit his brothers, who may have decided to kill him first. Additionally, it is suspected that the dead pilot was involved in a counterfeiting ring and alarmed his co-conspirators with his Suspicious Spending. The only witness to the crime flees town before he can be questioned. The story ends with the police chief admitting that he has no idea who the sabotage was really intended to kill, no way to pursue further leads, and no suspects for two out of the three possible motives.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: In The Papal Stakes, the plan of the Wrecking Crew is carefully explained and justifies the reasoning behind their first plan to rescue Frank and Giovanna. Naturally, it goes horribly and bloodily wrong.
  • Unusual Pop Culture Name: Tom Stone named his sons Faramir, Gwaihir and Elrond. In an admittance that the names are embarrassing, he has them go by Frank, Gerry, and Ron later on.
  • Uptown Girl:
    • Given an interesting twist in 1632. A renowned surgeon from Chicago falls for 'Miz' Melissa Mailey, rural West Virginia schoolteacher. But the doctor grew up poor, ran with gangs, joined the Marines to avoid going to jail, and went to med school on the GI Bill. The West Virginia schoolteacher is actually a scion of the Boston Brahmins and but her political and social views pushed her away from her family to teach in coal-mining country.
    • Eddie Cantrell, high school kid turned navy lieutenant, with the king's daughter Anne Cathrine of Denmark in 1634: The Baltic War. Another one with an interesting twist: the two's Shotgun Wedding was actually engineered by her father — aka the king of Denmark — because he wanted a son-in-law with knowledge of uptime technology.
  • The Uriah Gambit: Sultan Murad allows his Janissaries and cavalry units to make charges he fully expects to be costly in his campaign to conquer Austria, because he's hoping they'll end up weakened enough that he can supplant them within his military hierarchy with new units that aren't affiliated with any factions in his court.
  • Useless Spleen: In 1634: The Galileo Affair, nurse Sharon Nichols performs a splenectomy. She considers the loss of the organ to be a serious issue, with implications for Ruy Sanchez's long-term health. Nevertheless, for the downtimers, the amazing thing is that abdominal surgery can be done with a reasonable expectation that the patient will survive.
  • Values Dissonance: A constant theme, in-universe. Given the premise of the series, it's basically inevitable that both uptimers and downtimers would be constantly suprised and often shocked at one anothers' social practices. Most often, it's the downtimers who come around, but the uptimers occasionally decide that the old ways make more sense.
    • One example is Eddie Cantrell, who's 20 years old, agonizing over his attraction to Anne Cathrine, who's 15. She finds his entire response hilarious, since a) she's equally attracted to him, b) she's both old enough and mature enough to get married in her era, and a husband much older than 20 would be commonplace, and c) her father wanted her to romance him into a marriage, considering it to be politically advantageous. He eventually decides that, in this era, his objections were fairly pointless.
  • Vigilante Man: The CoCs often patrol the cities they are based in and smash the kneecaps of any robbers they find in with a hammer. Admiral Simpson states that while he doesn't particularly like the way they've taken the law into their hands, he also doesn't hesitate to walk the streets of CoC patrolled parts of the city at night.
    • Their vigilante behavior extends even to beating people who fail to meet the new standards for hygiene and waste disposal (offenders are given warnings, repeat offenders may end up with broken bones). Uptimers are particularly appalled at this, but downtimer Rebecca Stearns reflects that they've never lived through the realities of a plague. Given that such horrific loss of life can be prevented with simple hygiene practices, she has little sympathy for those who refuse to cooperate.
  • The Vietnam Vet: Several of the older uptimers in the series were veterans of Vietnam, and as such were often involved in military training for Grantville residents defending the town.
    • One, Frank Jackson, managed to smuggle an M60 machine gun home after the war, which was instrumental in breaking rampaging mercenaries attacking the college town of Jena. Jackson later serves on Gustav Adolph's staff as an adviser on the new hardware being introduced into the 17th century courtesy of uptime knowledge.
    • Admiral John Chandler Simpson's first command was on the rivers of Vietnam. That career ended when his leg had to be amputated below the knee, but his experience commanding naval personnel comes in very handy when he's put in charge of building the USE's new navy — as much so as his engineering experience at the Pentagon.
  • Vomiting Cop: The state of victims' bodies after the boiler explosion in "The Devil's Opera" causes several Magbeburg cops to loose their lunches.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: In 1632, the sheer brutality of seventeenth-century Germany has this effect on Melissa Mailey. The incident is also a critical part of her character development.
  • The Von Trope Family: Well, this is in the middle of noble-infested 17th century Germany.
    • The naming can be a bit dodgy at times, though, such as with Friedrich Spee von Langenfeld, referred to as "von Spee," which is a common rendering of the name but historically inaccurate. Then there's Pappenheim, who is referred to as "von Pappenheim" instead of "zu Pappenheim," which denote very different things in the nomenclature of Germanic nobility. These were addressed and corrected in later installments and in the Shared Universe publications.
    • The uptimers tend to be treated like nobility by downtimers who haven't interacted with them before, to the point of joking about being "von Grantville" or "von Uptime" (in 1636: The Viennese Waltz, for the latter).
  • Wedlock Block: Attempted regularly when parents, clergymen or authorities try to prevent couples from marrying due to being mixed relationships of uptimers with downtimers, nobles with commoners, impoverished titles with the new rich, and Catholics with Protestants.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Axel Oxenstierna. After Gustav Adolf was incapacitated by a head injury in 1635: The Eastern Front, he decides to lead a ruthless campaign against uptimer ideas by overthrowing the constitutional government of the USE and starting a new one in Berlin, in the course of which he sends an army to besiege one of his own cities and allows an enemy to sack another, just to weaken the parties that might object.
    • Gretchen has more then a little of this in her, in her campaign to bring uptime political ideas like freedom and democracy to the 17th century.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The teenage girl fleeing rape in the beginning of 1632 isn't followed up on until "Anna's Story" in the first Grantville Gazette.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Mary Simpson, toward the end of 1633, spends several (awesome) pages calling her husband out on catering to the bigoted demographic during the election campaign in 1632, as well as a) always hiding his feelings instead of giving away the fact that he does, in fact, have them and b) treating Rita Simpson née Stearns absolutely horribly during her engagement to their son Tom. He reminds her that she wasn't all that pleasant to Rita either, but all in all, it's a badly-needed wakeup call for John, who goes on to become much better liked by the other characters (and readers) after he owns up to his mistakes.
    • The purge of Germany's anti-Semites at the end of 1635: The Dreeson Incident is this for a number of readers of the series toward Flint himself; they were upset by the seeming moral relativism of Mike Stearns' giving approval to the Committees of Correspondence's plans to deal violently and decisively with those extremists under a false premise, given that it wasn't anti-Semites who were responsible for the plot that resulted in the murders of Mayor Dreeson and Reverend Wiley plus a number of Grantville policemen in the first place, but Michel Ducos' Huguenot radical terrorists. For reasons of Realpolitik, namely that maintaining friendly contacts with the moderate Huguenot leaders was of critical political importance, and also because Stearns wanted to wipe out the kind of anti-Semitic bigotry that ended up leading to the Holocaust uptime, they chose to pin the blame on the anti-Semites instead. There was a lot of vehement debate on the "Baen's Bar" 1632verse forums about this incident when the book came out.
  • Wife Husbandry: A most unusual example in that Prince Ulrik's goal is not to mold Kristina into the 'perfect wife' for himself but to but to guide and advise her into becoming the best possible Queen and Empress she can be.
  • Winter Warfare: 1636: The Saxon Uprising climaxes in a battle to break the siege of the city of Dresden by General Banér, with Mike Stearns' 3rd Division being compared with the besieging forces in terms of equipment and morale, the former having much better of both thanks to the attention to gear to keep warm in the winter and a paymaster that didn't stint on supplies or soldier pay.
  • Wire Dilemma: There's a time bomb in The Viennese Waltz. It's the simplest possible design ... but most people have no experience with "electrics".
    Dr. Faust looked at the knife and blanched. Then he reached down with his hand, grabbed one of the wires, and yanked it free.
    “Was that all it took?” Leo asked, feeling disappointed. “From the books, they are supposed to take some sort of specially trained experts to disarm?”
    “That’s because up-time they used antitampering devices. Lots of wires, and if you pulled the wrong one, the bomb went off. [...]
  • The Women Are Safe with Us: The debut of Grantville in the seventeenth century involves filling rapist soldiers with lead. Of the buckshot variety. When offering surrender to enemy armies, they specifically assure them that their women won't be touched (that hardly being standard practice at the time).
  • Worthless Foreign Degree: Thanks to a 350 year knowledge gap, most downtimer degrees are considered less prestigious than a GED from Grantville High.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Used by the USE and their allies in 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies. They send a fleet to the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, then dominated by the Spanish, to secure oil fields. They take over Trinidad, ally themselves to a Dutch remnant and other local powers, and begin a wide-ranging campaign against the Spanish. If they win, great, they've got Trinidad. However, even if they lose, they've created enough trouble that there's no way anyone will notice the smaller fleet sent to Texas.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: In the Ring of Fire story "When the Chips Are Down" things don't start out well for Larry Wild. He seems to screw up any attempt at work, he misses his family, which was really close and loving, and later his attempts to make potato chips cause him some grief. Still, it seems to end pretty well, with the town loving his chips. He even gets to dance with a girl he likes. Then 1633 comes along and he gets killed in the Battle of Wismar when a cannonball cuts him in half. Making it worse is that 1633 was published first, so the reader knows this is just a Hope Spot for poor Larry.
  • Yellow Face: A group of Swedish sailors on a Chinese junk they captured from some pirates employ this to take down some other pirates who outnumber them signifigantly. The only uptimer in the crew briefly reflects on how it goes against her values but is also their best shot at victory under the circumstances. It works.
  • You Have Failed Me: Mike Stearns has this to say about Wallenstein.
    ""He's ambitious as Satan and, whatever else, one of the most capable men in the world. Plus, he doesn't seem to share most of this century's religious bigotry. That doesn't mean he won't burn down the ghetto. He will, Morris, in a heartbeat. But he won't do it because you're Jews. He'll do it because you failed him."
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Third Division gets an epic multi-phase one against the Turkish cavalry (numbering in the tens of thousands) during The Ottoman Onslaught. First Engler finds a terrain bottleneck that allows him to stop their charge with his volley guns. Then the Hangman regiment comes in to provide cover fire so the volley guns have time to reload and do it some more. Then the rest of Third Division shows up to reinforce the Hangman. Then, as the Ottoman cavalry's momentum is halted, Pappenheim's Black Curaissers show up and rout them.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: A fundamentalist Spanish Inquisitor commends a Spanish captain on putting down a riot by ordering a massacre. Since the captain is sickened by his order to fire, and he really dislikes the Inquisitor in question, he has to restrain himself from killing the priest on the spot. This officer, who is a thoroughly honorable and ethical man, eventually becomes so disgusted by the moral cesspool into which imperial Spain has fallen that he defects to the U.S.E. at the end of 1635: The Papal Stakes.