In the world the West Virginians of Grantville came from, the borderlands between France and Germany had been a source of turmoil for centuries. In the new universe created by the Ring of Fire, the situation isn’t any better. The chaotic condition of the German lands has been ended—for a time, at least. And the near-century long war between Spain and the Netherlands has finally been resolved.
But now France is unstable. The defeat of Richelieu’s forces in the Ostend War has weakened the Red Cardinal’s grip on political power and emboldened his enemies, Foremost among them is King Louis XIII’s ambitious younger brother, Monsieur Gaston. An inveterate schemer and would-be usurper, Gaston’s response to the new conditions in France is to launch a military adventure. He invades the Duchy of Lorraine.
Soon, others are drawn into the conflict. The Low Countries ruled by King Ferdinand and Duke Bernhard’s newly formed Burgundy, a kingdom-in-all-but-name, send their own troops into Lorraine. Chaos expands and spreads up and down the Rhine.
It isn’t long before the mightiest and most deadly army enters the fray—the legions of pestilence. Bubonic plague and typhus lead the way, but others soon follow: dysentery, deadly and disfiguring smallpox, along with new diseases introduced by the time-displaced town of Grantville.
The war is on. All the wars—and on all fronts. Can the medical knowledge of the up-time Americans be adapted and spread fast enough to forestall disaster? Or will their advanced military technology simply win one war in order to lose the other and much more terrible one?