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EUROPEAN CUNNING MEETS AMERICAN COURAGE The Thirty Years War continues to ravage 1 7th century Europe, but a new force is gathering power and influence: the United States of Europe, forged by an alliance between Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden, and the West Virginians from the 20th century led by Mike Stearns who were hurled centuries into the past by a mysterious cosmic accident. The democratic ideals of the USE have aroused the implacable hostility of Cardinal Richelieu, effective ruler of France, who has moved behind the scenes, making common cause with old enemies to stop this new threat to the privileged and powerful. But the USE is also working behind the scenes. A group of West Virginians have secretly traveled to Venice where their advanced medical knowledge may prevent the recurrence of the terrible plague which recently killed a third of the city-state's population. At the same time, the group hopes to establish commercial ties with Turkey's Ottoman Empire, then at the height of its power. And, most important, they hope to establish private diplomatic ties with the Vatican, exploiting Pope Urban VIU's misgivings about the actions of Richelieu and the Hapsburgs.
FROM THE BACK COVER: Rome, 1635, and the members of Grantville's diplomatic team, headed by Sharon Nichols, are making scant headway now that it has become politically inexpedient for Pope Urban VIII to talk to them. Sharon doesn't mind, she has a wedding to plan. Frank Stone has moved to Rome and is attempting to bring about the revolution one pizza at a time. Cardinal Borja is gathering votes to bring the Church's reformers to a halt in their tracks, on the orders of the King of Spain. Meanwhile, trouble is brewing in the streets, shadowy agitators are stirring up trouble and Spain's armies are massed across the border in the Kingdom of Naples, and Cardinal Barberini wants the pamphleteers to stop slandering him. Cardinal Borja has more ambitions than even his masters in Madrid know about, and has the assistance of Spain's most notorious secret agent to bring about his sinister designs. It looks like it's going to be a long, hot summer.
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