Vienna Prelude (Zion Covenant Series #1)

Vienna Prelude (Zion Covenant Series #1)

by Bodie Thoene, Brock Thoene

Paperback(Series Premiere)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781414301075
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 04/28/2005
Series: Zion Covenant Series , #1
Edition description: Series Premiere
Pages: 488
Sales rank: 149,435
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Vienna Prelude

THE Zion Covenant * Book 1


Copyright © 1989 Bodie Thoene
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-4143-0107-3

Chapter One

Night Music 1936

Streams of iridescent twilight streaked the sky above Gothic towers. Soft pink and blue melted into a deep, star-flecked purple in the east. The spires of Prague's Hradcany Castle blended into the darkness, and lights in the castle windows shone like evening stars not yet risen to their places in the heavens. The tall bell tower of Hradcany and the greenish cupola of some lesser-known spire held the broad canopy of evening suspended just above the hundred towers of the city.

Elisa Linder and Leah Goldblatt slowly crossed the ancient Old Town Square as others hurried home from work. Set in the cobbles, flat stone crosses marked the places where the noblemen of King Wenceslas had died as martyrs for the sake of a cause almost forgotten. Elisa's father had told her all about it. When she had come to Prague with him as a child, she had stepped around the crosses as though the blood of the martyrs were still wet and fresh on the ground. She was nearly twenty-three now, and still she watched the cobblestones carefully. In the half-light, she felt the presence of a million vanished souls, four hundred years of history crowded into this one moment.

"You know," Leah said warily, "we'rethe only two left in the orchestra still trying to see the sights." She flipped through the small, red Baedeker's guidebook. "Everyone else wore out after Paris."

"And think what they missed."

"Sore feet." Leah looked up at the sky. "After this, tonight's performance will be a relief. At least we'll get to sit down. Are you ready to quit for the day?" It was getting colder, and a wind had sprung up almost as soon as the sun disappeared.

"One more thing." Elisa took Leah's arm and pulled her toward the window of a dark shop. W. Hainz-Clockmaker was stenciled in a faded gold arch across the glass. Inside was a large clock surrounded by gold cherubs, each pointing to the time in London, Paris, New York, and St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg was now Leningrad in Bolshevik Russia, but the old clock had obviously paid no attention to the politics of passing time. "You see," Elisa said with the same awe she had felt as a girl, "with a clock like that you could get up whenever you wanted. In New York there are people who haven't even had breakfast yet."

Leah was manifestly uninterested. "Look," she replied with a stern poke to Elisa's ribs, "the only thing I care about now is a few minutes' rest, five minutes to change, and a minute and a half to make it to the concert hall!"

Elisa stood for a moment more, still seeing the reflection of a six-year-old girl with thick blond braids standing beside her father. She turned to Leah and said quietly, "At home we have a clock that was made here one hundred years ago. You see? Some places don't change at all. Prague will always be Prague."

"Fine." Leah sounded rushed. "Well, someone better tell the old clockmaker that it's 1936. St. Petersburg isn't St. Petersburg anymore, and Germany is now the Third Reich. Everything changes, Elisa. Except the time the concert begins. So, do you mind terribly? It might be breakfast in New York, but in Prague all the barons and baronesses are already in their satin."

* * *

Elisa and Leah made their way upstream through the throngs of concertgoers who moved toward the wide doors of the theatre in Prague. Elisa clutched her violin case and looked back over her shoulder as little Leah struggled to heft her cello against the tide of silks and furs and top hats. For a moment Leah's determined young face was almost lost from view; then up came the top of the cello case like a shield before her, parting the waves.

"Excuse me. Pardon me. Excuse me, please!" Leah's soft Viennese accent rose above the hum of the crowd. Elisa laughed, thankful that her instrument was no larger than a baby and much easier to carry than Leah's unwieldy cello. In restaurants and on trains, Leah was forever asking for another seat for her "mummy."

"Leah?" Elisa called, unable to conceal her amusement that the principal cellist had to battle the audience to get backstage. "Are you all right?"

"Excuse me, bitte. Pardon." Leah's voice took on an edge of irritation.

"Maybe we should go in the front entrance with them." Elisa stood on tiptoe. She was a full head taller than Leah and still could only see the cello case.

Suddenly Leah's soft voice turned harsh. "If you wish to hear the concert tonight, you will let me pass, please!"

In an instant top hats doffed and mumbled replies of apology were heard; then the human sea parted for Leah and her cello. Her face was flushed from the effort, but with the utmost dignity she dropped the case to her side and walked deliberately to where Elisa waited near the corner of the huge stone building.

Elisa nodded regally. "Well done, Your Highness."

"They could have killed me-or worse, broken Vitorio to pieces." Leah patted the cello case affectionately. "Cattle." She straightened her coat and ran her fingers through her bobbed hair. "I hope they don't overrun the stage tonight."

"We should have just gone in the front entrance with them." Elisa picked a few tufts of fur off Leah's shoulder, compliments of a patron's coat.

"They wouldn't have let us in." Leah grimaced. "We don't have tickets." She surveyed her appearance. "I look as if I have been in a catfight." She brushed her coat, then sized Elisa up and down in mock disdain. "And look at you!" She sniffed. "Perfect. Perfect. I tell you, it's disgusting. Didn't we just walk through the same crowd?"

Elisa tossed her long blond hair and blinked innocently at Leah. "It would be easier to walk, Leah, if you played a nice little fiddle instead of strumming a mummy. I told you that in Salzburg four years ago." She took Leah's arm, and they walked together down the darkened alley to the stage door.

"By then it was too late, anyway. You should have told my mother when I was four." Leah shifted the weight of the cello, leaning slightly to the left in her awkward, familiar stance. "My father was hoping I would be a boy and grow up to be a bellman. This is as close as I could get. Schlepping a cello case all over Europe."

Elisa laughed at Leah and nudged her slightly when Rudy Dorbransky ran toward the stage door and scrambled up the steps as though he were being pursued. He did not notice either of the young women in the alleyway.

"What's wrong with him?" The door opened and a wave of sound escaped as musicians warmed up backstage. With a soft click the door shut as Rudy slipped inside.

"He probably got into another card game." Leah rolled her eyes.

Rudy was famous for his ability to find a card game in a strange city.

"Well, if he's just now here, we must be late. You know he's always late."

"Unless someone is chasing him." Leah gathered her coat more tightly around her.

"You aren't late until the houselights go down." Elisa stepped aside, giving Leah room to lug the cello up the steps. "Besides," she giggled conspiratorially, "did you see the conductor last night?" She opened the heavy steel door and they were immediately assaulted by a deafening cacophony of instruments hooting and wailing. "Five minutes before the performance, he wasn't even dressed!"

Leah waved a hand in disinterest. "I keep expecting him to come out on stage without his pants some night." She tapped her temple lightly and crossed her eyes. "Yes?"

Elisa nodded broadly. The roar of practicing musicians made conversation in a normal tone of voice impossible. Members of the orchestra were everywhere, each playing particularly difficult passages of the symphony. Unwinding their scarves and flinging their coats onto a long wooden bench stacked with other coats, Leah and Elisa uncased their instruments and joined the noisy ritual.

In twelve days they had traveled to a dozen cities in Europe, playing the same program in each place. Tonight's appearance at the German Theatre in Prague marked the end of the exhausting tour and, appropriately, they were playing Mozart's Prague Symphony in the city where it had first been introduced. It was sure to please the crowds of isolated Germans who lived in Czechoslovakia and clamored for tickets to every performance. Elisa knew that the local German newspaper reported every musical event in faraway Vienna, while it totally ignored the opening of a new play in the Czech National Theatre. The Czechs and the Germans maintained separate theatres, churches, and universities. Tonight the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra belonged to the German-speaking residents of Prague. This possessive sense of ownership by the audience would make them wild with joy and appreciation, even if the musicians themselves were bored with the program they were about to play.

After the concert, while the rest of the orchestra climbed wearily onboard the train back to Vienna, Elisa would catch the train north to her home in Berlin for the Christmas holidays. The thought of seeing her family again so soon filled Elisa with a sense of excitement. Tonight she played for her mother and father, even though they were in Berlin.

As though reading Elisa's mind, Leah nudged her. "Did you have any trouble getting your ticket?"

Elisa shook her head. "No. I'm the only person who wants to go into Germany." She laughed. "Everyone else wants out!"

Leah smiled, then hefted her cello and scurried off to find a place to warm up.

"Full house!" Shimon Feldstein boomed over the din. As the percussionist, Shimon had little to do until they were actually onstage, where he could stand beside his great "kettles of thunder." Always before a performance he released his excess energy by prowling through the halls backstage and announcing the condition of the evening's audience-who was there and whether they were subdued or excited, sober or drunk.

Elisa did not need Shimon to know the condition of tonight's audience. She had played in this theatre half a dozen times. The orchestra had always been received more warmly here than anywhere else in Europe, it seemed-including their home base at the Musikverein in Vienna. She had come to love the ancient city with its hundred church spires, the Old Town Hall, the mysterious streets and delicious food. Mozart had loved Prague, and in the beginning that had been enough for Elisa. She never had enough of exploring forgotten corners of the city.

Today she and Leah had enjoyed a picnic out on Charles Bridge and had eaten a pleasant lunch as the murky Moldau River swirled below their perch. Leah had taken her into the dark interior of the Old-New Synagogue and the old Jewish cemetery where headstones leaned on one another for centuries of musty companionship. Elisa had then spirited Leah away to the church of Jan Hus, who had been martyred as a heretic for his part in the Reformation. Every corner of the city was a history lesson.

Even though Elisa was from Berlin, her father had arranged for her to carry the passport of a Czech citizen, of German Aryan background. Not even her closest friends in the orchestra realized that she was the daughter of Theo Lindheim, the well-known Jewish department store owner in Berlin. Her mother actually was Aryan, but to be half Jewish in Germany was more than enough. And so her stage name was Elisa Linder, a slight deception that made it possible for her to play professionally in Germany, though Jewish musicians had been banned from performing in public for over a year. Only now, as a private citizen, would she return to Germany. For two weeks she would be Elisa Lindheim again. Her violin would return to Vienna under Leah's watchful eye.

Twice Elisa had nearly told Leah about the passport and the fact that her real name was different from the one Leah knew her by. Often she had suggested that the cellist take an Aryan stage name just in case the Austrians imitated the actions of their powerful German neighbor. Already in Vienna there was talk-quiet murmurs that Austria would be better off joining Hitler's Reich.

But Leah simply would not hear of it. She was Jewish, and she was Austrian, she claimed. Everyone in Vienna knew that. Vienna was her hometown, and never would Austria be subject to what happened in Germany! So the issue had been settled. In spite of the fact that Leah Goldblatt was the most talented cellist in Austria, Hungary, and Poland, she had to remain home whenever the orchestra toured Germany. Her only comment was "Their ears are not worthy anyway!"

Elisa's crisp Berliner accent was immediately recognized by any who heard her speak, but she simply explained that she had moved from Berlin at an early age. She had been quite young, after all, when she had gone to Austria to study at the Mozarteum. Hitler had not even been in power then, and her Berlin home had been an exciting, open place to live where little thought was given to a person's heritage.

But now, when the tour scheduled concerts in Berlin, she gracefully bowed out. In Berlin, she was Elisa Lindheim. A hundred friends would recognize her instantly. Over the course of the last two years, her father had managed to send her considerable sums of money, nearly all of which was safely tucked away in a Swiss account. And Elisa, to the amazement of her struggling musician friends, lived quite well in her little flat two blocks from the concert hall in Vienna. Life was good; even now she did not feel the shadow of Hitler's growing power in Germany.

"Five minutes!" called Shimon loudly as he passed Elisa. With more intensity she played a difficult bar in the second movement. Perhaps, she thought wistfully, someday I will be Elisa Lindheim again and play this in Berlin. In spite of the noise around her, she heard only the sound of her own instrument. She stopped and began again, letting her fingers fly over the fingerboards. She felt a soft tap on her shoulder.

Elisa opened her eyes to the handsome, worried face of Rudy Dorbransky. His thick dark hair tumbled down over his forehead; frightened eyes gazed down at Elisa. He was undoubtedly the most handsome of the single men in the orchestra and had talent as a violinist to match his good looks. There had been a moment two years ago when his strong hand on her shoulder might have caused her heart to skip a beat. But other women in the first violin section had warned her about him, and she had listened. Now she looked at his bloodshot eyes with disapproval, and she continued to practice.

"Rudy," she said almost maternally, "go look in the mirror. Comb your hair and straighten your tie. Did you shave today?"

He ignored her comments. "Elisa-" He mopped his brow and attempted a charming smile. "I ran into a bit of difficulty today, dearest-"

She held her bow poised for an instant.


Excerpted from Vienna Prelude by BODIE THOENE BROCK THOENE Copyright © 1989 by Bodie Thoene. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Vienna Prelude 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
MarieFriesen on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Opening in 1936, the Zion Covenant series tells the courageous and compelling stories of those who risk everything to stand against the growing tide of Nazi terrorism that is sweeping through central Europe under the dangerous and deceitful guise of Hitler's Third Reich.
VirginiaGill on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I've always been sorry that I gave this series of books away so when I saw them on the loaner shelf at the cancer center I snactched them up to read again. What the characters constantly trying to be light in the darkness during a horrific time makes for a great read.
Michelle.Henry on LibraryThing 5 months ago
The Thoenes are among my all-time favorite authors. This series has their usual perfect blend of history, drama, adventure, suspense, and romance.
bookczuk on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This is the first book I've read in what is apparently a series of books, this, I'm told, being a prequel to The Zion Chronicles Series. The writing style did't really thrill me, but I wanted to see what happens with the story enough so that I kept reading. I did find myself getting irritated when the author has Elisa talk about Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. Thoener uses theEnglish translation, which is pretty weird and not nearly as beautiful or meaningful (or even the same meaning as) the German one, which bugs me every time I sing it, too. So, for a German to wax poetic about what essentially is a bad translation, struck me as weird.There were things I liked about the book -- the heroics of everyday people that go unsung, the references to the music that floated throughout the story, the glimpses of Berlin and of the mountain area around Berchtesgarten, where my family has spent many happy hours. Like Rebekkila, the love story kind of interfered with my enjoyment. A little too soap-operaish for me.
ruthhill74 More than 1 year ago
This was the first thing I ever read by the Thoenes. I read the entire series, and I was totally blown away by it! The historical accuracy and the delightful characters got me more interested in WWII than I ever had been before. I love the fact that the Thoenes cover the war in a way that you often don't see. This is one of those books that has stuck with me over the years. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a good historical read with a Christian touch.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
songbirdsue More than 1 year ago
I was very interested in this book from the start because it seemed to revolve around a violin that was of some importance in the 1930’s. It concentrates on Jewish life in Germany and Austria from 1933 – 1935. Brock’s history degree is put to good use in the accuracy of the Historical content. From their website: “Due to such careful research, The Zion Covenant and The Zion Chronicles series are recognized by the American Library Association, as well as Zionist libraries around the world, as classic historical novels and are used to teach history in college classrooms.” I have to admit that I enjoyed learning history this way much better than any history class I have had in the past. It was fascinating to see how the violin was used to help Jews get out of a country that would not tolerate them. I found it difficult at times to keep up with all of the minor characters as it jumped from one to another. The history was fascinating as was the development of the story. The time period of course lends itself to a lot of heartache and sorrow. I was very disappointed with the love story; it seemed to be one misunderstanding after another without any communication to resolve it and just left all parties unhappy and confused. It is not even resolved in the end of this book, which I thought it definitely should have been. The ending though somewhat settled did not resolve any number of issues that I guess will be dealt with in the other books in the series. You definitely want the next one in order to feel come completion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cougar_H More than 1 year ago
Vienna Prelude, by Bodie Thoene, is a novel that I will never forget. This book is one of the only books that has made me cry. This novel is a toughing Pre-World War II story that takes place mainly in Germany and Austria. With the main character of Elisa Lindheim, a member of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, gets caught up in a world to which she never was associated with or was around, she thought. To her surprise her father is carried away for his association with this other life. This first installment of the Zion Covenant series is told in a third person point of view, told around four people, Theo Lindheim, Thomas von Kleistmann, John Murphy, and Elisa Lindheim (Linder). As Elisa arrives home before the annual holiday skiing trip she is told to bid fair well to her beloved home and prized possessions, as they will be taken by the Reich after Elisa and her Father depart. Missing their train due to a Gestapo intrusion, Theo is arrested on the account that he is Jewish. Assuming her Arian identity once she had crossed into Austria, Elisa shares with her mother the news of her father's disappearance. Elisa however has just fallen in "love" with a man by the name of John Murphy, an American journalist reporting on the actions of the Führer (Adolf Hitler). A week after Elisa's life turns to shambles in the safe sanctuary of Vienna, Elisa is introduced to her father's world all the wile regretting her actions with Murphy and trying to avoid the grip of her ex-boyfriend Thomas (a Nazi). I would most definitely recommend this exquisite novel to anyone because every one needs to come to the realization that the world does not revolve around just one person. This book shows that every one can help a stranded soul. For example there are so many people that Elisa helped just by finding them a safe place to stay away from the Reich.
clemmy More than 1 year ago
These are some of the most wonderful, human characters there ever were. Elisa is a musician as you can tell from the rather creepy cover (don't be put off), and she has a delightful and caring also Jewish friend named Leah. Murphy is an American reporter who uses his authority in this capacity to slip past some precautions. Murphy tries to save Elisa's father as well as Elisa, but she doesn't let him. This book is very touching, and I will read it over again many times. I cried some, but I cry very easily when reading well-written books. This is a deep, full-bodied story, like a good cup of coffee that would also go with this book since it is largely set is Vienna, and Vienna is well-known for their coffee.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BlueAria More than 1 year ago
I was given this book 10 years ago to read for the first time and the series is on of my all time favorites! The characters and plot never get old no matter how many times I have read them. Thoene is a fantastic writer. She makes you think the way she wants you to and then throws a twist at you that you never saw coming!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely LOVED this book and all the others in this series. It took so many unexpected turns, and it weaves so many interesting characters. Anyone who reads this book is sure to love it. Romance,suspense, and truth all combined into one!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Zion Covenant books are absolutley wonderful. Historical fiction at its best, the Thoene's have mastered the art. Believable characters and real life events draw you into this amazing series. The history is right on and the character development is fantastic. Give this series a try!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read the first six books in this series, all were well above average reads. The characters were all diverse and brillantly drawn. The historical aspects were spot on. I also liked the fact that even though this is Christian fiction, the authors got their hands dirty, they accuratly told what it was like to be in Europe during WWII. Bad things did happen, and the authors don't hide it. I recommend all of the books in the series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! It's got love and romance, it's got suspence and fear! It has great chareters that are so believable it's amazing! It also has a lot of historical points to it. As a 16 year old, I know that I wouldn't get half this information if I read my text book in school about WWII. You HAVE to read this book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read the whole series in two weeks. I couldn't put it down. The authors do such an incredible job of making historical fiction fun, suspensful and easy to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When a sweet little Mennonite lady recommended the book to me, I was sure it HAD to be churchy and trite. What I discovered was the beginning of years of reading and re-reading the Zion series. Start with Vienna Prelude since it introduces you to characters that will become like family as their hopes, talents, dreams, and tragedies are woven through the accurate historical accounting of pre-World War II Europe and Israel. I spent many nights up late because I couldn't put down these captivating novels. I just can't seem to find any like them, Bodie and Brock are MASTER authors.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book so much that I made this an assigned reading for my Advanced Placement European History class. They loved it and many are starting the next one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the book. It brought the Nazi situation to life and will give you a feeling of what it was like to live through and see that passivism is not the way to deal with tyrants, peoples lives are at stake.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you will start with this book and read on in her wonderful tales, you will be hooked. She has brought history alive. I have read this whole series and am on the fourth book in the Zion Chronicles. They are excellent to read but very hard to put down. I will recommend her books and her husband's books to anyone and everyone. They have an excellent mixture of action, suspense, romance and history.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished the 6th book of the series and recommend them all highly. The author has done an excellent job and I plan to find and read her other books. I really couldn't put the books down once I started them.