Tag Archives: markus heitz

BiblioSmiles' Summer Book Challenge 2014

A couple of days ago the BiblioSmiles literature Blog posted a reading challenge for the summer that really sounded interesting:

When I was little, every summer my town library would have a summer book challenge to keep our young brains from turning to mush from all the sunshine and lack of schooling. Or video games. It might have been video games.
For every book you read, you logged it, and you accumulated points, earning little trinkets like those erasers in the shapes of ice cream cones, or wacky pencils, or puntastic posters. Being the little budding lit nerd I was, I was all over that.[…]
So, for summer 2014, here’s the 10 Book Challenge that I’m going to attempt to accomplish between June and August. Ten books has us at 3.3 books a month, which may be ambitious depending on the sort of books we choose. But that’s why it’s a challenge! Based on what books you pick, this can either be really difficult or fairly whimsical and easy.
From: Summer Book Challenge 2014

In short: The challenge consists of 10 categories to choose a book from (and a bonus category) and to read them in the months from June to August.
As I recently started to properly read again (as in: not starting a book and letting it lie somewhere for years) is this challenge also interesting for me to read some of the books that still wait in my shelve(s).
Even though I am a relatively fast reader (200-400 pages are a short read for me), if I would actually try to read ten books in three (by now two and a half) months I wouldn’t really be able to finish the challenge as this time of the year is also the festival season and I’m also otherwise occupied at times.
The beginning of the month was already covered with my Journey Through a bit of Germany and the Metalfest, for which I will add travel logs and report later.
The next one (Rockharz) will follow mid July and maybe another one in August (M’era Luna), taking away time on the weekend that I would otherwise spent reading.
Therefore I picked a book fitting for the category, but I will read them in my own pace and not within the set time limit and post a review linking back to the challenge afterwards.
This way I’ll do some proper reading and be able to add a few book reviews to my Blog.
But let’s have a look at the

The Categories and the Books

I have chosen.
1. A book you always meant to get around to
As my list of unread books is just as long as BiblioSmiles‘ Gabrieles, this one isn’t really an easy choice. But as I am tired of not properly understanding the movies have I chosen „The Lord of the Rings“ for this one, though I am not sure if I’ll also add „The Hobbit“ and „The Silmarillion“ to get the complete grasp of the story.
2. Reread a childhood favorite
This one is actually easy as I just picked the one that first came to mind when thinking about books I read when I was a child/teenager: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I’m curious already if I’ll like the book as much as I did back then or if I’ll ruin the memory with this. >_<
3. A book someone else picks for you
As many people have recommended it for me I’ll actually start with the „Game of Thrones“ series. The alternative suggestion I got from DarkFairy would be the first book of James Barclay’s „Chronicles of the Raven„, but as I am still missing most of that series this is more difficult to read than the other one.
4. A book in a genre you don’t usually read
I hope young adult fiction counts for this… It still has some Fantasy elements, but it is aimed at a far younger audience. The book I’ve chosen is Melvin Burgess‘ „Tiger, Tiger“ that I’m already reading as it is one of four books I wanted to actually read before they might be swapped in the Book Hotel I’ll be staying at with my mum towards the end of July.
5. Something originally written in another language
Well, so far every book I’ve chosen was originally written in another language (English). We do have a couple of good (fantasy) authors here in Germany, but the majority of books are still translated into German. Nevertheless have I chosen a book that I will also read in English (just like GoT, but that’s mostly because the German versions are all split into two books) and whose special edition I have borrowed from Nazgul: „The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy“ (which incidentally was Gabrieles suggestion for 3.)
6. A book in a different format
This one I have also already started reading before knowing about the Challenge. It’s an Anthology (collection of short stories) that was created for the anniversary of The Forum. It’s called „Unter dem Weltenbaum“ (Underneath the World Tree) and contains stories about the roots, trunk and branches of the Arbor Phantastica or Yggdrasil by different authors. I sent two of my stories (Unterwelt and Erde), into the competition as well, but they weren’t chosen.
7. A classic
As I already have mentioned a couple of times, do I really like Goethe’s „Faust“ (see: Mephisto), but as it stands have I never finished Part Two of the tragedy. But this will be changed by the end of the challenge. 🙂 I might even reread Part One as well, if I can find it…
8. A book by your favorite author that you haven’t read yet
This one is tricky as I don’t really have an author I consider my favourite. There are three of whom I at least have more than one unread book: Stephen King, Terry Pratchett and Marcus Heitz. I am still not sure which book I will choose, but it is highly likely that I will finally finish – more likely begin anew – King’s „The Dark Tower V: The Wolves of the Calla“ as like „Kinder des Judas“ this one is still unfinished for quite some time now.
9. A nonfiction book
A couple of years ago we had a secret Santa at work and the present I picked was Stephen Hawking’s „A Brief History of Time“ and I think it’s about time I get around to reading it.
10. A book either published or a bestseller from the year you were born
This one is tricky as the most books I found in the list for my year aren’t that easily available for me – or simply didn’t sound interesting enough. The one I picked is Ray Bradbury’s „A Graveyard for Lunatics“ that is actually available in my local library. (And now you all know my year of birth and subsequently my age >_<)
Bonus book! 11. A book you haven’t read that was adapted to a movie/TV show
As I am already planning on continuing the series I’ll probably continue with the second part of „The Vampire Diaries“ – the review for the first one is still on my to-finish list though.
Now you know which books I have picked and I will give you a review after I finished them (though maybe not for 8. as that would seem odd without the other ones).
Maybe you want to try it too? Just pick a couple of books and make sure to actually read them. 😉
Edit: You can find my current reading (and review) status here: Summer Book Challenge

Markus Heitz: Kinder des Judas

It’s been several years since I first started reading Markus Heitz‚ „Kinder des Judas“ (KdJ – in English: Children of Judas). As it was published in 2007 I got it around that time as well and never really had the chance and the muse to finish it until now. Like last year I thought that over the Christmas days I at least had to try to finish one book, as I can’t remember what else I have read that year – again. When I first picked up the book, after I had chosen it, I tried to continue reading, but soon realized that I would have to start anew, as what I read a few pages before that was just gone.
But let’s start at the beginning.

What is it about?

KdJ is Heitz‘ first vampire-story, but not remotely romantic. The story is told through two different time lines: 18th century Serbia and current day (2007) Germany – Leipzig, to be precise.

The history part picks up the story of Scylla a young girl with a hunger for knowledge that loses her mother through the Turks. She is then raised by her (formerly unknown) father to follow him in his scientific studies and to become his successor. The more time she spends with him, the more she learns, but not just through their research. Her father is part of a hidden society of scientists that are calling themselves the Children of Judas and she soon finds out what exactly that means.

In Leipzig Theresia „Sia“ Sarkowitz is a caregiver for a hospital, who knows when death is about to visit her patients. But she is also a bouncer and combatant in illegal and nasty fighting matches, just to feel alive. When a young patient dies she decides to write down Scylla’s story. Soon her old live catches up to her. Her brother Marek forces her to remember who – and more importantly what – she really is and to return to where everything began. To the place where she was Scylla.

The reading experience

As I said I started the book back in 2007 or 8. I had read about a hundred pages and never really felt like continuing.
Before I decided to start from the beginning I read a couple of pages to get back into it. I soon found out that where Sia currently was, was a place where I nearly had been last year: The Moritzbastei in Leipzig. She was even at a concert of Das Ich, one of Germany’s oldest Gothic bands, that I actually have partly seen at last years Wave Gothik Treffen (Wave Gothic Meeting – the report for this will be added one day >_< ), in Leipzig. 😀 A thing that meant absolutely nothing to me all those years ago. It was just a location and just a band, no connection whatsoever and now I have memories of a guy with a clowns-hairdo in an industrial hall. 😀
But when I skipped more pages backwards I realized that it would be better to start from the get go again…as I couldn’t remember who certain people even were.

As I am not really a Dwarves fan, my first experience with Heitz (who is mainly known for his novels about Dwarves) were his novels Ritus and Sanctum, about the Werewolf of the Gévaudan and his version of what actually happened back then. Those two had the split storyline KdJ has, as well, so I knew what I was getting into.
Though from what I remember this was a bit different as it occasionally switched between the storyline within one chapter and had several, well, in-chapters. Let’s try again: The book is divided into four parts – called books: Mädchen (Girl), Aeterna, Entdeckungen (Discoveries) und Tod (Death). The chapter numbers continue throughout them. In each chapter there are notes for when and where something is happening, new notes show time jumps within the chapter. And occasionally that jump was into the other storyline.
This itself isn’t really confusing, though the point of view changes. Everything from the past is narrated, current events are told in Sia’s perspective. At one point she writes something and it is in first person as well. This is a bit odd, but you can still understand the different narrations quite well.

At some points I stumbled over spelling mistakes, but the book is from the first printing and things like that can always happen. What bothered me a little more was Heitz‘ way of describing things with too much details in some cases, but I’ll get to that later.

The characters

Sia herself isn’t really explored until later in the book when most of Scylla’s backstory was revealed. We have scenes with her that describe what she is doing, but you can’t really grasp why she would do that without completely knowing Scylla’s story. Of course the thought that she is Scylla and that she is a vampire (which they are by the way never called, as Heitz‘ preferably used the term „upir“ and variations thereupon) is always there while you read it, but not addressed until far down the storyline. She is not a character you would like, but somehow none of them are really likeable. Her actions are way more thought-through than Scylla’s and it’s a really nice contrast to the person she once was.

Because, well, most of what is told happens in Scylla’s childhood and young adult years, well up until her 70s… But still, Scylla was forced to grow up fast and had to live through quite some ordeals while growing up. Part of her stayed rather childish when it came to pursuing her goals. It was unfortunately not that much explored how she thought up certain plans, therefore some of her decisions don’t really make sense. At other points she even seems nymphomaniac, as her approach to gain power in man-ruled world is to sleep her way to wealth. Not really a kind of female representation one would like to read, but I suppose it might have been a necessary thing to do back then. Still don’t like it though. She had a brilliant mind (as she was raised to be a scientist) and had to restore to use her body instead….

And the only times she did fall in love didn’t end well…
Because everything boils down to the scientist society, The Cognatio, that has other things in mind with her (scientific) abilities. Members of that include Scylla’s father Karrol, her half-brother Marek and her occasional lover Lydia. Just like Scylla’s reasoning theirs is barely mentioned. Some of it is hinted at, some just not mentioned.

It is a pity, he could have done so much more with those three, but he settled for overprotective father, lovesick brother and shifty love-interest. And barely even mentioned other members of the circle. Thinking about it, Scylla/Sia and other side-characters could have gotten a better treatment as well.

There are no favourites or absolute dislikes in this, as simply everyone has reason’s to do what they do. Sometimes ridiculous or unexplained, yet still a reason…and, well, they are not portrayed enough to get some kind of connection.

General Opinion

If you don’t like explicit descriptions of fights – and I mean bloody and brutal fights – then none of his work is suitable for you. He also has a liability to describe sexual scenes with quite some detail. I don’t mind the blood, but the other stuff should be left a bit more to imagination in my opinion. Beside that, Scylla gets naked for a ridiculous amount of times, especially while fighting and that just bugs me.

Unlike the Werwolf-novels this one couldn’t really capture me, which might explain the break between reading. I don’t really know why, but between long and bloody descriptions of how someone was dissected or killed, the suspense didn’t really build up. You couldn’t guess what would happen next, but the moments where you hoped something wouldn’t happen where quite rare. Additional to that the characterization wasn’t the best either.

It was still interesting to read this different approach on vampires. Heitz created a variation of vampires based on Eastern folk tales, giving them names and abilities accordingly. He used people and places that actually had significance in our world in regards to our belief in these creatures. And as he writes well and fluently I can overlook most of the negative stuff above.
This book is different, not special, not a must-read, but different. A nice diversion to all the romanticisation of vampires these days.

Stuff I’d like to add

Even though this book seems closed, there are two sequels: Judassohn (Judasson) and Judastöchter (Judasdaughters). For the sake of completeness I have them as well, but I have to say, that I don’t really know what story they follow.
And there is a novel called Blutportale (Bloodportals) than somehow uses elements of both stories (Werwolfs and Vampires) and adds new stuff in a new setting. I’ll let you know what I find out when I managed to read all of them. 😉
And: None of them (including KdJ) are sold in English, sorry.
But I wouldn’t mind helping you out, if you were to try and read in in German. 🙂


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