The Fireman AND The Ludwig Conspiracy

Joe Hill – The Fireman

Before I even talk about this book, let me tell you, folks…this is quite the commitment read. I tend to binge-read, and it still took me foooorever to make it through the book. If you are a binge-reader as well, this one might slow you down for a bit (which, I suppose might be good for your book budget.)

What an exciting apocalyptic novel. I’m impressed. I’d file this along with the Stephen King The Stand. I will be careful not to give any spoilers but forgive me if I do. This story is based upon a mysterious disease that is spreading like fire. When one becomes infected they are marked with beautiful marks on their skin in the book; this is called dragon scale. Eventually, the disease takes over, and the person goes up in flames. As with most end of the world scenarios groups of people are trying to kill other groups of individuals. It is a fight for survival through the entire book.

Joe Hill does an excellent job with lead character building; I was immediately taken with Harper, a pregnant nurse in a bad marriage. The Fireman himself is the hero character and one I enjoyed very much, with his British accent and fireman suit. Without Harper and The Fireman I might have found reasons not to pick up the book again but I just HAD TO KNOW how the story ended. Honestly, I’m not happy with the ending…and I have to wonder if Hill will write a follow-up book. When you finish reading The Fireman please comment and let me know what you thought of the ending.

“It’s easy to dismiss religion as bloody, cruel, and tribal. I’ve done it myself. But it isn’t religion that’s wired that way – it’s man himself. At bottom every faith is a form of instruction in common decency. Different textbooks in the same class. Don’t they all teach that to do for others feels better than to do for yourself? That someone else’s happiness need not mean less happiness for you?”-Joe Hill, The Fireman

“The people in charge can always justify doing terrible things in the name of the greater good. A slaughter here, a little torture there. It becomes moral to do things that would be immoral if an ordinary individual did ’em.”- Joe Hill, The Fireman


Oliver Potzsch – The Ludwig Conspiracy

Oh Ludwig. ❤ I think I would have loved this Fairy-tale King very much. As I currently live in Bavaria, The Ludwig Conspiracy has a special place in my heart. I have personally visited two of the castles mentioned and walked down many of the streets and villages in the book as well. A story can really come to life when the reader can close their eyes and imagine the cobblestone and sounds.

I was particularity impressed with the author Oliver Potzsch when I read his series The Hangman’s Daughter (which I have mentioned in Books to read if you live in Europe.) So, when I saw a recommendation for this book I couldn’t resist. I even invited all my facebook friends to read with me, and many of them are. So again, I’ll try not to spoil the books ending.

If you are unaware of the stories about King Ludwig II’s death, I can sum it up for you. The official version is; he was declared insane and the next evening he was found floating in waist-deep water along with the doctor who declared him insane. Most people claim he strangled the doctor and drowned during the fight. But that is no fun; the conspiracy theories are much more entertaining. And if you ever take a tour of the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, you’re likely to encounter a tour guide who hints at other theories. Ludwig also has many beloved followers and conspiracy groupies to this day. You can find everything from his perceived homosexual relationship with famous composer Richard Wagner to his faked death and captivity in an unknown prison hidden in the mountains of the Tyrol (Austria.)

The Ludwig Conspiracy is a fantastic mix of history, geography, culture and mystery. I was enthralled! Admittedly, it took me a few chapters to really get into it, but once I was invested, I was in 100% and couldn’t wait for the next moment I could steal away to read. I imagine this story will be much more enjoyable to the reader who has visited Bavaria or already has a good understanding of the events from King Ludwig II’s period. There are many German-word references, such as streets, villages and key players in the royal family. The lead character will resonate well with book-lovers as he is an antiquarian bookstore owner. The female lead is described as an “Audrey Hepburn” type, and she seems pretty dominate to me, making decisions and leading the search for clues.

All in all, fantastic book. I loved it! And now, I have a new theory about what happened to my favorite Bavarian King.

“It’s in the king’s own hands,” interrupted Kaulbach the painter, drawing on the thin mouthpiece of his cigarette holder. “If he goes to Munich and shows himself to the people, no one will dare to certify him insane. But as matters stand…” He paused, and it was a pause pregnant with meaning. “If he goes on driving through the mountains in his coach by night, and building his fairy-tale castles, he is indeed playing into the ministers’ hands. …” – Oliver Potzsch, The Ludwig Conspiracy

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