It is 1613 and Heidelberg greets the dawn of a promising, magical age as it welcomes a beautiful princess, the daughter of England's King James. But the promise is false and soon all of central Europe writhes in rebellion and war. Wind Time, Wolf Time follows the lives of two sisters and two brothers as they struggle to survive in treacherous times. Katerina and Anna, poor young women made bold by desperation, find work in the royal household and thus tie their destinies to those of Heidelberg's Princess Elizabeth and Prince Frederick as their fortunes soar and plummet. Meanwhile, Thomas and Josef, sons of a Munich merchant, become estranged as the maelstrom of religious war engulfs Germany. As Thomas becomes a soldier to find adventure and bury a shameful memory, Josef, an ambitious priest, intrigues to be near the ear of the Habsburg emperor. As their paths cross, the region ignites in war fed by religious passion and lust for power. Princes make and break alliances, grasp for ephemeral glory, cling to honors, fall in disgrace. Cities starve and burn. Peasants flee mobs of bedraggled soldiers sweeping across the German countryside. As Protestant and Catholic armies thrash, mauling each other, devouring everything in their paths, God forsakes all.
A Hard Shell Word Factory Release
A native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Brian Deming has worked as a reporter and editor for newspapers, magazines, and other publications in the United States, Germany and Japan. His nonfiction books are Jackson: An Illustrated History and Hitler and Munich (with Ted Iliff). Wind Time, Wolf Time is his first novel. He lives in San Francisco.
"The theme here is similar to that of Burn's well known poem: the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, especially before the winds of war. This well-researched and meticulously detailed novel provides a vivid portrayal of the times, while revealing the violence and intrigue that occur during war by bringing them down to the human level of suffering. Each of the main characters endures much in his or her unique way. I found Wind Time, Wolf Time powerful, moving and educational."Alegria -- Coffeetime Romance
Heidelberg: Summer and Fall 1613
AMIDST A THRONG of cheerful, chattering peasants and burghers along Heidelberg's main street, a solemn young woman stood, arms folded, frowning. The festive mood of the town that afternoon could not erase the woman's gloom even for a few minutes.
"I see it," came a shout from a window above the street. "I see the procession coming."
The restless crowd surged against the row of guards straining to keep the thoroughfare open. The young woman, Anna, was oblivious to the motion of the crowd that swept around her, now blocking her view of the street.
"We won't see anything here," protested Katerina, standing on her tiptoes next to Anna. Katerina, at seventeen, was younger than her sister Anna by a year. Unlike Anna, she was very much caught up in the excitement of this special June day in 1613. "The princess will go by and we won't even know it."
"We'll see her well enough," Anna snapped.
Their view down the street was clear one moment and obscured the next by the churning, babbling mass. At least the sisters had an unbroken view of the great ornate triumphal arch, laboriously constructed for this occasion. The arch, decked with branches, plants and lilies, rose elegantly and spectacularly over the street. Paintings of religious reformers Melanchton, Calvin and Luther glowered from their honored positions on the arch, as if offended by the frivolous structure they shared with statues of the four evangelists and with the figure of the Roman goddess Juno.
The arch was so large it had a gallery with musicians. The flowing sounds of their lutes, violins and flutes mingled with the clamor of the crowd. All this was part of the glorious welcome planned for months to honor the new princess.
The burghers of Heidelberg could hardly contain their pride in this magnificent arch, despite the grumbling from the staid Calvinist scholars at the city's university. They saw no point in building the structure to begin with and were appalled that it included a pagan goddess. Even worse to them was the representation of Luther, as if he shared the same standing as Calvin. In the scholars' eyes Luther was as despicable and as misguided as any Catholic.
But in creating this arch, the citizens ignored the prattling of the stiff-necked theologians. The princess's entry into Heidelberg would be truly festive. Grim, stony Calvinism would be set aside for just one day.
The sisters Anna and Katerina stood out each in her own way from the mass of men, women and children lining the narrow street. Anna's curly, fiery red hair, peaking out from under her kerchief, shone like a beacon when the sun burned through the clouds. That startling torch illuminated a plain, homely face. She had brooding eyebrows, a bulbous nose and thin lips, all made less attractive by a worried scowl that she wore most of the time. No one took the trouble to notice her hazel eyes, so penetrating, so wise. Her slender figure was more like a man's than a woman's, all rigid lines and sharp angles under her plain dark dress. She caught no man's attention and was as beautiful as she would ever be.
Men did look at Katerina, however. The curves of her young body pushed firmly and pleasingly against the confines of her buff vest and skirt. She had straight dark-brown hair and brown eyes, wide and inquisitive as a child's. She had a delicate nose and lips that were sensuous, inviting, and on the verge of a smile, as if bemused by the wonder of life itself. Her face was all trust and confidence, as one might expect of a young woman who depended on her older sister to do her worrying for her.
"It is said she's called the Pearl of England," said Katerina. "She must be very beautiful."
"Princess Elizabeth is the daughter of King James," said Anna. "She may indeed be beautiful. But you can be sure she wouldn't be called the Pearl of England if she were not the daughter of a king. The title of princess makes a beauty of the plainest woman."
"And she's coming all the way from England." To Katerina, England was incomprehensibly exotic and distant. "Just think, our Prince Frederick went all the way to England, just for a wife."
"For a princess," corrected Anna, who prided herself on her knowledge of royal politics. "It's more than a marriage of people. It's a marriage of lands—England and the Palatinate. With King James's daughter here in Heidelberg, we can always count on England's friendship."
Anna's explanation was lost on Katerina. The marriage's romance, not the politics, charmed her. The wedding had taken place in London at Whitehall Palace in February and Katerina, like all the townspeople, sought out every bit of information and gossip about the event and the princess. She joined the stout wives and brash children who quizzed messengers and travelers who made their way up the River Neckar or along the rough roads into town. She stood in the market and gasped at stories about Elizabeth's satin wedding gown embroidered in silver, her crown of gold, pearls and diamonds, her train carried by no fewer than fourteen ladies in white.
Was it true what they say about King James? That he visited the bridal couple in their wedding bed the morning after the wedding? Many tongues wagged about the fortune spent on the wedding and all its attendant feasts and festivities, banquets and processions.
Then came the stories about Elizabeth and Frederick's journey to the Palatinate. The couple sailed from England in April, arriving in the United Provinces, where Frederick's Dutch uncles and the citizens of that flat, windswept land warmly welcomed them. Then Frederick left his bride to attend a meeting of princes and prepare for the princess's arrival in Heidelberg. Meanwhile, Elizabeth traveled, attended comedies and concerts in the Hague, received a cradle and baby clothes from the citizens of Haarlem, and gamely climbed to the top of the cathedral tower at Utrecht.
Finally the princess said farewell to the Dutch and headed south. A fleet of thirty-four boats and barges moved majestically up the Rhine to escort the princess to her new realm, the Palatinate, and its capital at Heidelberg.
Elizabeth's own barge, a golden lion at the prow and a golden mythological figure at the stern, glided under golden damask sails, red and blue silk flags, blue and crimson velvet hangings and carpets. Three other accompanying barges carried the princess's companions, servants, attendants and ladies-in-waiting—one hundred and eighty people in all.