Bodie and Brock Thoene

The Zion Covenant series is an extensive list of nine books. But it doesn’t end there. The story continues in two other series. So, for those of us who don’t want the story to end, we are in luck.

In the first book, “Vienna Prelude”, it is 1936 and Hitler has firm control of Germany. Now, he is looking to add to his Reich. Jews in Germany are already running into trouble. What happens to Austria is the subject of this first of the series.

The series has several protagonists. Introduced into the first book are the Lindheim family, Theo, Anna and their three children, Elisa, Wilhelm and Deiter. Elisa’s best friend is the cellist Leah. An American journalist, John Murphy, quickly comes to the fore. Several Nazi soldiers are also seen as the good guys.

There are several antagonists, as well, from the Fuhrer, himself, to Canaris, the head of the German Intelligence to several fictional characters who live out the rules of the Reich. Each is as frightful as the next. These characters’ stories weave in and out and amongst each other, occasionally to the detriment of one or another.

Due to the amazing number of protagonists, we readers get to see the prelude to the war from different perspectives. There is the pride of the Nazis, the destruction of family units, whether they are Jewish, Polish, Czech or agnostic. We learn of techniques used to help the distressed and how those techniques often were destroyed.

Bodie and Brock Thoene are two of my favorite authors. Well, actually, Bodie does most of the writing and Brock does most of the historical setup. The references to places and events show their complete familiarity with the back story, making me comfortable knowing that each act described is very possible. Their characters are very real, sometimes a little too idealistic for my tastes and not always right in their choices. As the characters move through the story, I want to cheer them on for making good decisions or grab them back from their poor decisions.

Of all the writing techniques this couple uses, the one I am fascinated with the most is the fast-paced change of POV, which happens several times per chapter. With a number of protagonists and antagonists involved in the plot, Bodie switches POV regularly, in order to keep the story in chronological order. The double spaces in the middle of a chapter tell us that a new person is being announced.

Another technique they use, which I enjoy, is a flash forward as the prelude to each book. This little gift  shows a given character in a scene from the future. Sometimes it is a year in the future. Sometimes it is 45 years later. But the characters’ conversation somehow revert to the war every time.

The first time I read the series, I was fascinated by the stories. The second time I read it, I discovered that several more volumes had been added. I had also discovered, by then, my desire to write a series with as many protagonists. As I prepare for my own story, I can thank the Thoenes for demonstrating how to deal with such a large story.