We spent our last day in Germany in the third of three beautiful medieval town: Rothenburg. Like I said in the previous post on Nuremberg, by this point in the trip my brain was pretty fried. So I don't remember a lot of specifics, but I do have some pretty pictures to show.
So Rothenburg has lots of pretty medieval buildings:
Down one of these streets we found a shop with like a hundred different kinds of sausage displayed in the window.
Speaking of food, my husband and I ate lunch at this really cool restaurant:
And we saw this church. The highlight is the Altar of the Holy Blood by famed woodcarver Tilman Riemanschneider, but it also has some other cool stuff in it.
And this beautiful park at the top of the town (the town is a fortess town built on top of a hill):
And then it was back to Frankfurt and our hotel by the airport, and home again the next day. In a few days, my husband and I are off on our next adventure; I may get a wrap-up post put up before then. Or I might not. Stay tuned for more of Kyra's Excellent Adventures!
(The adventure starts here)
After we left eastern Germany, we went to the second of the major medieval towns we visited, Nuremberg, aka Nürnberg. There was quite a bit of discussion in the car as we were driving there as to whether Nuremberg and Nürnberg are the same place. Opinion was divided, but according to Wikipedia, they are one and the same, Nuremberg is the Anglicization, Nürnberg is the German form.
To be honest, by this point in the trip I was pretty tired and everything was pretty much a blur, so I'll just share some photos and what highlights I can remember.
We saw some cool Gothic churches, with amazing carvings on the outside and beautiful artwork inside.
And some other cool medieval buildings, including the Albrecht Dürer house, which we did not stop in at. We were heading up the (steep) hill to the castle, and were on a schedule to depart for our next stop later that day. Maybe next time.
This statue is in the marketplace where a famous Christmas market is held every year. We visited the market when I was 8 years old, and I still have and use a Nativity scene I bought there.
And here's the castle, which was an important center of the Holy Roman Empire government.
And we ate at this restaurant, Nassauer Keller, which is down in a cellar. Right inside the door is a fairly steep flight of stairs. The decor includes full suits of armor. If you look at the menu, my husband had the Nürnberger Rostbratwürste, and I had my usual favorite, Schnitzel "Wiener Art." Also in Nuremberg we finally found the elusive Spaghetti Eis (Ice cream), a favorite treat from the years when we lived in Germany. Vanilla ice cream pushed through a spaghetti press to make "noodles," topped with strawberry sauce and coconut flakes for the "parmesan cheese." My mom had especially been craving it, but for some reason it was really hard to find until we got to Nuremberg.
Along with being a center of learning and culture, Nuremberg does have an ugly history of persecution of Jews and as a major center of the Nazi government. It was extensively bombed during World War II. Most of the medieval buildings have actually been rebuilt since the war, and as we visited the city we got a strong sense of learning from the evils of the past and moving forward focusing on lessons learned and the good and beauty to be found in humanity.
So, one more stop after this, Rothenberg, and then it's time to fly home! But before I end this series and head out on my next adventure, I'll also hit a few other miscellaneous high points.
Kyra's Excellent Adventure, Part 9: Going Medieval, part 1: Regensburg
Time to finish up my blog series on last year's trip to Germany (here's Part 1) before my husband and I head off on our next adventure, later next month. Stay tuned to find out where we're going!
We bookended our trip into eastern Germany with stops in three beautiful medieval cities. The first one was Regensburg, which is especially known for its cathedral. I remembered the cathedral from when we were in Germany in 1978-79; in June of 79, my best friend from back home came to spend the month with us, and she and I went all over the place on the train. Regensburg was one of those stops. I was excited to see the cathedral again this time. It's very squeezed in among a lot of other buildings and a good chunk of it was covered in scaffolding, but we still got some great views of it. Here it is lit by the sunset:
That evening, we all went our separate ways for supper. My husband and I found ourselves in this square near the cathedral. The yellow building was the site of the Perpetual Diet. From Wikipedia:
"The Perpetual Diet of Regensburg or the Eternal Diet of Regensburg[nb 1] (German: Immerwährender Reichstag) was a session of the Imperial Diet (Reichstag) of the Holy Roman Empire that sat continuously from 1663 to 1806 in Regensburg in present-day Germany.
"Previously, the Diet had convened in different cities but, beginning in 1594, it met only in the town hall in Regensburg. On 20 January 1663, the Diet convened to deal with threats from the Ottoman Empire (the Turkish Question). Since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the Holy Roman Emperor had been formally bound to accept all decisions made by the Diet. Hence, out of fear that the Emperor would disregard the Diet's role by not calling sessions, it never dissolved and became a perpetual diet."
With the obvious jokes, my husband and I grabbed an outdoors table at a small restaurant on the square, the Hofbräuhaus Regensburg, and ordered Abendsbrot, delicious breads and cheeses and a selection of interesting wursts. This was the view from our table:
This square was really pretty busy with people coming and going, eating ice cream and hanging out with friends, and we had a wonderful, relaxing time sitting and eating and watching the world go by. This was one of our favorite restaurants in Germany. Actually, they were all our favorites, but we had a really nice time here.
We spent the night at a nice hotel, in an old building but renovated with an elevator! At this point I was getting kind of tired of lugging my suitcase up and down narrow stairways. The hotel was on the Street of the Happy Turks, in a very hip and happening part of town. Lots of people out enjoying the town at night, lots of fun.
The next day we set out to do our sightseeing, including a return trip to the cathedral.
The inside is just as spectacular. We got there just in time to enjoy the short noon service, organ music and a brief sermon (in German). A nice, peaceful break from all the touristy running around.
The Danube River runs through Regensburg. My husband and I walked across this bridge with this cool medieval gate tower and got a great view of the city, with the cathedral and interesting medieval buildings.
March 22-27: Get your fantasy boxed sets here at the Towers of Fantasy Tomes event, hosted by Romantic Fantasy Shelf. Binge on fantasy reads for 99 cents, free, Kindle Unlimited, and more!
March 20-25: If you're an international Kobo customer (I'm not sure if this sale is good in the US), don't miss the March 40% Off Box Sets sale! All three of my box sets, Love and Magic, Daughter of the Wildings Books 1-3, and Daughter of the Wildings: The Complete Series are part of this sale, in the Fantasy and Science Fiction section. Use promo code 40MAR.
I'm also running a 40% off coupon on these box sets on Smashwords. Buy Love and Magic, Daughter of the Wildings Book 1-3, and/or Daughter of the Wildings: The Complete Series with the on-site coupon code and save 40%! Deal expires March 25.
I'm happy to announce that Mages' Exile, Book 2 of Defenders of the Wildings, is now available. If you've read Mages' Home and are wondering if things can get any worse for Silas and Lainie, the answer is yes, they can! Some characters from the Daughter of the Wildings series make an appearance in Mages' Exile, and we get to know our villains better. Also, can you spot three famous Arizona locations in the book?
This weekend only, through March 3, Mages' Exile is available at the special launch price of $2.99. After this, the regular price will be $3.99. Available at your favorite ebook store:
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To celebrate the release of Mages' Exile, Mages' Home is also on special this weekend for only 99 cents. The price goes up on Monday March 4, so don't miss this!
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Hope everyone had a great holiday season! I'm still recovering from Thanksgiving and Christmas. But edits on the next book of Defenders of the Wildings are proceeding at a steady pace (Thank you pomodoro method!), and now it's time for the cover reveal! First, though, I want to let you know about a new Facebook group for readers of romantic fantasy, Romantic Fantasy Shelf. (If you aren't on Facebook, there's also a website starting up, also called Romantic Fantasy Shelf.) We're kicking off the group this month with a full month of games, giveaways, and author takeovers. (I'm on today, Jan. 5.) Come join us and discover lots of new romantic fantasy books and authors!
And now, on with the cover :)
Art by Yuriko Matsuoko. I've been really excited about this cover. Of all the Wildings covers, this comes closest to capturing Silas the way I see him in my mind. And I love the canyon background!
I'm looking to release Mages' Exile in February. To make sure you don't miss the release date, sign up for my email newsletters! No spam, and I won't share your address with anyone else. When you confirm your subscription, you'll get a link to a free copy of Tales of the Source-Breakers, a subscribers-only collection of backstories that go with Source-Breaker.
Um, okay. Finally back :D I've been busy, revising and editing Mages' Exile, book 2 of Defenders of the Wildings, and writing the first draft of my next series, yet to be named, set in the Islands of the Wildings world, the home of Silas's ancestors. I've also got a few more blog posts to write about our trip to Germany, which I'll try to finish soon.
In the meantime, here's a sneak peek into Mages' Exile. (My newsletter subscribers got to see this first, and they'll also get first look at the cover, a tiny snippet of which illustrates this post.) This scene shows why you don't take the kiddos along on your fantasy quests if you can possibly help it, though if you've read Mages' Home, you'll know that Silas and Lainie didn't have a whole lot of choice in the matter. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. (Note: this is not the final version; still some edits to go.)
Half-climbing, half-crawling, Silas left the winding path and headed straight up. Another measure and a half up, he pulled himself up onto a shelf cut into the slope, a good bit wider and longer than the ledge below. At the far side of the shelf, where the canyon wall rose again, five or six swordbeaks strutted in an agitated circle, spitting out curls of flame that hissed in the rain. In their midst, Garis sat on the ground, laughing and clapping his hands.
Silas’s heart skipped a beat and he stopped short. He suppressed an urge to run right over and pull Garis away from the swordbeaks; the last thing he wanted to do was upset the critters even more and provoke them into attacking. He held silent and motionless for a moment, observing the situation. It didn't look like the swordbeaks had hurt Garis, but they were clearly unhappy at his presence. A dark cleft split the canyon wall behind where Garis was sitting. The swordbeaks' den? No wonder the beasts were angry.
"Garis," he said, fighting to keep his voice calm.
"Look, Pa, fire chickens!" Garis shouted. The swordbeaks chittered, flapped their tiny forearms, and breathed out more fire.
Fire chickens. Silas closed his eyes, overcome by one of those brief, unexpected moments of sympathy for his own parents. “Hold still, Garis. Don’t scare them.”
“They ain’t scared, Pa. They happy and dancing!”
Great gods, what was he going to do? Silas studied Garis and the surrounding flock of swordbeaks, trying to work out how to get the critters away from the boy, or the boy away from them, without provoking them. He could slip a shield between the beasts and encircle Garis with it, keeping a strand of power extended to pull Garis and the shield out with, through the ring of swordbeaks. But wielding that much power with that much precision and control, without hitting any of the swordbeaks, in this place of wild magic while he was still suffering the effects of that weapon, wouldn’t be easy.
Still, it was the best he could come up with. Ignoring the discomfort, he began to draw power, shaping in his mind the shield he meant to make.
Watch for Mages' Exile, book 2 of Defenders of the Wildings, coming (hopefully) in January 2019! And in the meantime, stay tuned for the reveal of the amazing cover! To make sure you don't miss out on the release, and for early cover reveals, sneak peeks, special offers, and more, sign up for my email newsletter.
I'm pleased to announce that Mages' Home, book 1 of Defenders of the Wildings, is now available at all major ebook stores (and a number of smaller stores) for $2.99 or the international equivalent.
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You can read the prologue and first chapter here.
Defenders of the Wildings is the follow-up series to Daughter of the Wildings, and Mages' Home catches up with Silas and Lainie some six years after the end of Daughter of the Wildings. They have a new home and the life they've dreamed of, and things are much better for mages in the Wildings now. But the Plain settlers aren't the only ones who hate (or used to hate) mages, and when a company from across the western sea comes to town, trouble soon rears its ugly head again. Only Silas and Lainie have a lot more at stake now than their own lives.
Defenders of the Wildings tells a self-contained story, and can be enjoyed even if you haven't read Daughter of the Wildings. (Though I hope you have, or will!) It's a three book series, Mages' Home to be followed by Mages' Exile and Mages' Uprising. It introduces a bunch of new characters I had fun writing, and gets us caught up with the characters from Daughter.
Defenders was originally 6 books, and I kept changing the order of books 1, 2, and 3 before I really got a handle on how the story went, then I combined them into 3 books. So there was a lot of work to do revising this series, and book 3 (formerly book 6) was nearly double in length by the time I finished the first big revision on it. It turned out to be a lot more epic in scope than I thought it would. But I think it's all come together pretty well :) The second revision of book 2 is proceeding apace. No promises on a release date, but I'm aiming for 3-4 months from now.
I've also started writing my next series, which is set in the Islands of the Wildings world, where Silas's ancestors came from, in a time period well before the migration of Island mages to Granadaia. This will be a trilogy plus prequel. It's still a long ways off; stay tuned for updates. In the meantime, I hope you'll pick up Mages' Home and enjoy starting this new adventure through the Wildings with Silas and Lainie.
I'm down to the last few editing passes on Mages' Home, Book 1 of Defenders of the Wildings, so it's time to show off the cover!
And the full wraparound:
The artist who did the covers for Daughter of the Wildings unfortunately was not available to do these covers, so I commissioned Yuriko Matsuoko. I love her vision of a more mature Lainie and an older and (possibly) wiser Silas.
Here's the blurb:
Once, they were hated and hunted by mage hunters and Plain folk alike. Now, former bounty hunters turned renegade mages Silas and Lainie Vendine finally have the life they dreamed of - a home and ranch of their own where they can live in peace and raise their family, and the friendship and respect of their non-magical neighbors.
When a company from across the western sea comes to Prairie Wells, bringing marvelous new inventions, Silas and Lainie figure it only means more prosperous times ahead for the town and for them - until an old and vicious hatred of mages rears its head.
As troubles stirred by unseen enemies divide the town, many of Silas and Lainie's neighbors turn on them. When danger strikes at the heart of their home and family, Silas and Lainie must fight to protect everything they love, everything they've worked for, before it's all destroyed.
Read the Prologue and Chapter 1 here (warning: contains mild spoilers for Daughter of the Wildings).
I've set a tentative release date of September 22. To make sure you don't miss the release and the very limited-time introductory price (release weekend only!), sign up for my email newsletter. You'll also get news about special offers, giveaways and book promotions, book recommendations, exclusive sneak peeks, and more, including a free copy of Tales of the Source-Breakers, a subscribers-only collection of prequel stories to Source-Breaker!
Kyra's Excellent Adventure Part 8: Into the East, part 3: Dresden
Sorry for the long break in the travelogue. I've been working hard on books; the second half of Book 3 of Defenders of the Wildings needed pretty much a complete rewrite. So most of my meager brain power has been going to that. But it's finally done, and now I'm working on final edits on Book 1. Watch this space for a cover reveal, coming soon!
So, on to Dresden. Dresden was planned to be one of the highlights of the trip. Once known as the Florence of the Elbe, a jewel box of beauty and culture, the city suffered devastating destruction from Allied firebombing near the end of World War II, a horrific, nightmarish tragedy. There's a lot of controversy over the reasons for and necessity of the bombings, but I believe the ultimate responsibility lies at the feet of the Nazi regime that led Germany into a terrible and completely unjustified war of aggression and conquest.
Since my previous visit to Dresden in the 70s, beginning after the fall of the GDR and reunification there's been extensive restoration work, and the city is once again a treasure. We were especially looking forward to seeing the Frauenkirche, the famous church that was reduced to ruins, left as a pile of rubble during the Soviet era, and finally rebuilt, 1993-2005.
Driving into the city, we passed the dreadful, ugly apartment blocks that once housed the families of Red Army troops stationed in East Germany. 10, 14 stories tall, I guessed, and no elevators. They don't look like dwellings; they look like warehouses for storing human cogs in the machine.
Past the Soviet-era apartment blocks on the outskirts of town, we drove into the city, and parked in a parking lot in front of this department store, built after reunification.
We didn't go inside. According to my mom, we could have spent a whole day just in that store, and we didn't have an extra day.
Our main destination was a short walk away, the square around the Frauenkirche. The church is breathtaking in its beauty and magnificence, outside and in.
In that shot of the balconies, you can see the resemblance between the Frauenkirche and the small church in Forscheim attended by our relatives (that we actually visited the next day; doing a little time traveling here!). We were fortunate enough to get there in time for the mid-day devotional, so we got to hear some wonderful organ music and an inspiring service.
The square and streets around the church are also beautiful, lined with elegant buildings. And there's a cafe there where you can get a strawberry parfait that's about a foot tall.
After this, my siblings and their spouses took off to go visit a castle, while my parents and my husband and I headed to the next attraction, the Gallery of Old Masters at the Zwinger palace.
On the way, we walked down this street lined with a mural of all the kings of Saxony. It's a history lesson in pictures, and it was fun reading the names and seeing the changing styles of clothing and armor from Konrad the Great in 1127 to Friedrich the Bitten (Gebissene) in 1307, followed by Friedrich the Serious (Ernsthafte) in 1324, followed by Friedrich the Strict (Strenge) in 1349, who was succeeded by Friedrich the Argumentive (Streitbare) in 1381, then later, Friedrich the Gentle (Sanftmuetige) in 1428, and so on to the late 1800s (unfortunately, my picture of the very end of the mural is blurry so I can't see the names and dates at the ends. They aren't all Friedrichs; there's also some Augusts and Georgs and other names in there too.) My husband had fun giving names to all the kings' minions.
My husband is a big art history buff, and the visit to the Zwinger was the part of the trip he'd been looking forward to the most. By this time, I was pretty tired, not just from the day but from the whole trip, and needed a break, so I sent him into the museum with my parents and told him to have fun, then I got to enjoy a couple of hours to rest and recharge.
I went to a cafe on the square by the Zwinger, which is also where the opera house is and a bunch of other cool historic stuff, and had an ice cream sundae. Germans are very serious about their ice cream sundaes, and the fudge-mocha-hazelnut concoction I got was delicious.
After that I retired to the courtyard of the Zwinger with my Kindle Paperwhite and my phone full of music and my earbuds.
Here's what I was reading:
If you like character-driven epic fantasy with a strong female lead and heavy romantic elements, this series is definitely worth checking out.
And here's what I was listening to:
I bought Kamelot's new album The Shadow Theory right before we left on the trip and hadn't really had time to listen to it. Finally, now I had the chance! Unlike their previous album, Haven, it didn't grab me by the throat with its sheer awesomeness on first listen, but as I listened through a few times, its brilliance started to grow on me. It's supposedly inspired by Jungian psychology, but I don't know anything about that. Instead, I got a definite dystopian vibe from it. Maybe because that was the theme of Haven, and partly because of the repeated catchphrase "I am the empire" which, vocalized in a growl, encapsulates the essence of totalitarianism. The children's choir on "Burns to Embrace" singing "We are the last to walk the earth" was especially chilling. It seemed a fitting album to listen to while visiting a city that survived two dystopias in the last century, the Nazi regime and the Communist GDR. And really, when you think about it, one is just as bad as the other. Some of the tactics and underlying philosophies might differ, but when it comes right down to it, there's really no difference between them. In both systems, the rights and freedoms of the individual are crushed beneath the demands of the state/collective, a philosophy that has put many tens of millions, if not hundred of millions, of people in graves in the last 100 years.
The most beautiful song on the album, Vespertine (My Crimson Bride) (link goes to Spotify, where if you log in/sign up for free, you can hear the whole album) offers a note of hope, and also seemed especially fitting. This probably isn't the real meaning, but to me, the song speaks of a beautiful woman fallen to ruin and madness, yet still living as young, vibrant, and beautiful in the memory of her beloved. It reminded me of a beautiful city fallen into despair and ruins then rebuilt to its former glory by people who refused to give up on the memory of what it once was. Every time I hear that song (and it's one of my favorites, so that's pretty often), I'll always think of Dresden.
These guys kept me company while I hung out in the courtyard:
And just a few more pictures from the area near the Zwinger:
After my husband was done with the museum, which he very much enjoyed, definitely one of the highlights of the trip for him, we walked across a bridge over the Elbe River, which is quite a beautiful river.
The only thing I didn't like about Dresden were the pay toilets. All three bathrooms I visited there made you pay. The one in the museum, you had to scan your ticket to get in. No way I was buying a 19 Euro ticket just to use the facilities, so my husband let me use his. I was hoping the museum's computer system didn't record that that ticket had been used to get into the ladies' room and deny my husband access to the men's room if he needed to go later. At the cafe where I had my ice cream, if I had thought to bring my receipt downstairs with me (the WC - water closet - was down in the basement), I wouldn't have had to pay, but there isn't anything that tells you that until you're already in the stall! And even at the McDonald's, you had to drop a coin in the turnstile to get in. At least you get a coupon for a discounted drink in exchange, but come on. Paying to get into the bathroom at McDonald's? At least, as long as we were in McDonald's, we enjoyed getting drinks with ice. No Dr. Pepper (by this time, my husband was seriously jonesing for a Dr. Pepper Polar Pop from Circle K), but yay, ice.
Aside from that minor quibble, Dresden was an amazing experience, deeply moving and thought-provoking from a historical perspective and filled with lots of wonderful things to see as a tourist.
Next time: Going Medieval, part 1
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