1634: The Bavarian Crisis by Eric Flint & Virginia DeMarce
First of all, I loved the first book in the series, love the whole premise of a fictional West Virginia town being transported to the early 17th Century, loved the original characters. Having said that, I think the series may have over-reached some time ago. I wouldn't say that each novel has any responsibility to be a "stand-alone", but they're now woefully lacking when it comes to reminding you who the hell everyone is. There's a list of characters in the back, but the character descriptions are minimal, at best. And the series has a buttload of characters to keep track of now. It may be my own deficiency, but I was lost fairly often.
Speaking of lost, the book has three maps in the front. Grantville isn't on any of the maps. The book repeatedly moves the action to some town that isn't on any of the maps. I like maps. I can't tell you how many times I've started a book and when my GF looks over, she says, "Ooh, you're going to like that one. Its got plenty of maps." So here's a shout out to Authors and Editors everywhere. Go ahead, put in all the maps you want. Just please make sure the places you write about in the book are somewhere on the fucking maps!
Another quibble I'll make is that the book seems to suffer from what others have described as Baen's policy of letting authors self-edit. There's certainly something to the concept of giving your authors a more free hand, but is there any reason not to proof the book for typos and obvious grammatical errors? Sorry, that just strikes me as lazy.
Anyway, I want to like this series more than I do. In the end, I got the gist of the story and it was good, if not great. But, and this is the big but, I'm only going to get the full benefit of these books if I decide to become the Grantville version of a Trekkie, fanatically learning Klingon and wearing Spock ears everywhere I go.
Nah. That ain't gonna happen.