Conor McBride is on the move, and the suspense continues in City Of A Thousand Spies! Read on…
For those who have already read The Secret Chord, you probably already had an inkling that I would be sending Conor to Prague for his next adventure.
I had a chance to spend a week there, and I came home even more convinced that I’d picked the right setting.
It is a city full of history, bursting at the seams with beauty.
It also has about a thousand little winding lanes and mysterious passageways where you can find yourself wandering for hours, sort of lost, but not really caring.
Frankly, the city also has more than a few things about it that are rather bizarre. Here are a few things you might not know about Prague:
- Defenestration. The word was coined there in the early 17th century. It refers to the act of throwing either yourself or somebody else (or both) out a window. I find it pretty intriguing that there was so much of it going on they invented a word for it. If you look in Wikipedia, you’ll get the scoop on noteworthy defenestrations in history (who knew this was a thing?!). So, this is one of my new favorite words. It will be nice to have the right terminology on the tip of my tongue when the new season of Game of Thrones gets underway.
- Puppets. They go mad for them in Prague. Pirate puppets. Michael Jackson puppets. Charlie Chaplin is big, and so are (gulp) clowns. These are not just for kids, though. Puppetry is serious business, displayed in major fine arts exhibitions, featured in high-brow theatre. I think the craze for puppets might be directly related to…
- The Legend of the Golem of Prague. Now, we’re not talking about that pitiful little fellow from Lord of the Rings. No. The Golem of Prague is way more badass than that guy. The story is that in the 16th century, the great Rabbi Loew created this massive being from inanimate matter (e.g., river mud), as a protector for the Jewish ghetto of Prague. He was brought to life by having a scrap of paper inserted either into his forehead or mouth that had a Hebrew word for God written on it. Things went a bit haywire, of course (see: Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein’s Monster), and the rabbi had an awful time getting the thing shut back into its cupboard in the synagogue. A fantastic, more recent story is that during the war a Nazi agent stumbled upon the Golem while ransacking the synagogue. And it killed him. So, good Golem.
- Vengeful Statuary. These guys are at the gates of the Castle, which houses the president of the Czech Republic. I like the under-stated symbolism of this. Hey! EU/US/Russia/Whoever-the-hell: Think you’re going give us a hard time? Yeah. Think again. In every church and palace, and on every square in gorgeous old Prague, the statues are Taking.Care.Of.Business. The bishops have croziers and they know how to use them – and don’t count on those freaky Baroque cherubs to protect you. Take a closer look at them. The cherubs will mess you up.
Think I got enough material to work with?! Me, too! You be the judge. When you read the book, let me know if the city came alive for you as it did for me.