Monday, September 15, 2003

Zion Covenant: Vienna Prelude and Prague Counterpoint

Bodie Thoene's popular Zion book series includes the Zion Covenant series, published after the Zion Chronicles series, with a setting prior to the Chronicles. Beginning with Vienna Prelude, we experience the horrors of Nazi Germany in the late 1930s, not long before World War II. The first two books in the series vividly describe the political and social climate that allowed the Nazis to invade Austria and then Czechoslovakia.
Amidst this background is an interesting story about Elisa Lindheim, a Symphony Violionist who happens to be half-Jewish. Though she and her family are baptized Lutherans, and Elisa bears the Aryan blonde traits from her mother's side, she has no rights in the Nazi belief system. Elisa's friend Leah, concert celloist and full Jew, lacks false identity papers and is at even more risk.

Vienna Prelude vividly describes life in Austria immediately before the Nazi invasion, complete with the details of that takeover and the seemingly shocking apathy of Europe. Prague Counterpoint immediately follows, with the early days of Austrian occupation, streams of refugees fleeing into Czechoslovakia, and Hitler's scheming to conquer that nation (which would fall several months after Prague Counterpoint ends).

Other characters include Elisa's Jewish father Theo Lindheim. Also, Elisa's old boyfriend-turned-Nazi Thomas Von Kleistman, contrasted with a daring young American reporter, John Murphy, provide a background love interest. A rural Austrian family illustrates the tension experienced even within families, the division brought by Hitler, that would set a son against his brother and his parents. Yet perhaps there is hope for Otto Wattenbarger, the Nazi son who appears more prominently in the second book.

Several historical figures from the time have minor roles, especially the then-out-of-favor, banished Winston Churchill. Yet even American celebrities Charles Lindbergh and Clark Gable have guest appearances, for a greater, international view of the times.

These two books provide exciting adventures which make the historical period even more interesting, while providing great details of historical research. Prague Counterpoint also addresses the "old-news" story (having begun in Germany even before 1938) of the persecuted church in Germany, the Nazi efforts to remove Jewishness from the state church, even their plans to sterilize imperfect adults and kill defective children.

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