1635: Cannon Law by Eric Flint, Andrew Dennis, Andrew Dennis
AGAIN.... SF really covers the map.
In this continuation of the Ring of Fire series, the 1632-verse (1632.org ) we get tons more evidence how a good SF story - in this case an alternate history one - can introduce you to matters of war, history, peace, religion, science and more.
From the BN.com synopsis:
I enjoyed reading this one over a few months on my PDA - thanks to Baen's very generous policies making their backlist available in eform for free or low-cost - it's wonderful. I've already got "The Baltic War" loaded up to read next. (That's actually kind of a prequel - I accidently read this one first. They do a good job, like a detective series, of alluding to events that happened earlier, without spoiling the book if you read them out of sequence.)
Rome, 1635, and Grantville's diplomatic team, headed by Sharon Nichols, are making scant headway now it has become politically inexpedient for Pope Urban VIII to talk to them any more. 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, Cardinal Barberini wants the pamphleteers to stop slandering him and it looks like it's going to be a long, hot summer. Except that Cardinal Borja has more ambitions than his masters in Madrid know about, and has the assistance of Spain's most notorious secret agent to bring about his sinister designs.