• Tag Archives Books
  • Happy SteamTuesday! If you need an addiction, choose this one!

    I cannot imagine I could agree more with a statement than the one in the image below:

    Books are a hard-bound drug with no overdose!

    If you absolutely need a drug in your life and an addiction, choose books, but go for the quality choice, as always. Books will beautify your life and your dreams. They will inspire you, teach you, make you contemplate. They are also a great drug for kids and the whole family, better than chocolate or caffeine and they will neither wreck your brain nor ruin your teeth or lungs. Choose books!
    Reading books, real books, is also very retro and therefore so Steampunk!

  • Space 1889 & Beyond: Double Review

    Cover of Journey to the Heart of LunaThe e-book series Space 1889 & Beyond is out and I have already been lucky enough to get a review copy of Journey to the Heart of Luna and Vandals on Venus. Both are relatively quick reads, which is why I am going to review them in one go.

    Journey to the Heart of Luna by Andy Frankham-Allen was quite a refreshing reading experience. The closest thing to military steampunk fiction I have thus far encountered. Military is maybe too much a term, more naval steampunk fiction. Andy manages to convey the atmosphere on a British airship en route to the Moon in a way that makes you feel you are on board. I was under the impression he had probably served with the Royal Navy himself or else just manages to conjure the right images in the reader’s mind.

    The story itself is fairly predictable if you are familiar with the Space 1889 setting and the few adventures set there in the first edition of Space 1889. Since this is something I have come to expect in RPG-related literature, I do not mind at all.

    Some of the characters may be a bit one-sided, especially the Russians, but since this is a short tale, character development cannot really happen. The story is also not quite free of old, stereotypical tropes, in particular the strong, independent female who is not quite in keeping with the time. However, this is one of the staple adventurer classes of Space 1889, so it is completely in keeping with the setting.

    All in all, I really enjoyed Journey to the Heart of Luna, eight out of ten Zeppelins.


    Now for Vandals on Venus.

    Quite a different reading experience but we get to meet some of the protagonists of Journey to the Heart of Luna. It is not quite the same caliber, though. I actually stumbled over one of the first sentences:

    William White woke instantly, his brilliant mind alert at once.

    Well, a bit overkill, is it a sign of genius if you „wake instantly“ and are „alert at once“? There are a few more sentences like this: Quite powerful but somewhat off descriptions for characters and scenes.

    And this description is odd:

    Though Nathanial Stone was a brilliant inventor and spent a great deal of time bent over a desk, he had a tall, lean and athletic appearance and was in excellent health.

    This implies inventors are usually not tall and athletic… Excuse me? Inventors are normally small, shrivelled and frail? Tell that one to Edison or Benz.

    The clichés continue, especially when it comes to characterizing the German officer (who I think is meant to be representative of the German military as a whole, if not even the Empire):

    Where to start? I can accept the stupid name, Otto Kurt: Just take two names you connect with Germany and slam them together. Then the use of „token German“. Otto Kurt uses „Verdammten Englisch“ on and for every occasion. The phrase does not make sense. It proves he is most likely an illiterate Russian spy posing as a German officer or something and getting away with it because the Venusian swamp gases have made everybody else deaf.  The correct phrase would have  been „Verdammte Engländer“ or „Verdammte Briten“ „Verdammten Englisch“ makes as much sense as „Damned France“ in „The damned France have beaten us at football.“ (for my US readers: soccer). Believe it or not: Google Translate would have helped (although it displays the wrong definite article, actually, I just checked). Curiously enough, according to the short story, his English is excellent.

    Oberst Kurt displays none of the characteristics of a Prussian soldier, what he displays are the characteristics of a Waffen SS (Totenkopf) Sturmbannführer. Yes, I am aware these two get mixed up a lot, but the mistake has been made for the past 60 years or so. It is about time it stopped. Next time you want to portray a Prussian soldier, take into account there was more to them than just military efficiency, otherwise, this story could never have happened. And do not mix them up with Nazis, they were not.

    And the German Zeppelin… Oh yes, the Rheingold. Another stereotypical German word, probably lifted from a Wagner CD. Just a few minutes in the Wikipedia would have revealed what German Zeppelins were actually named after (if they had names at all).

    And best of all: Although the story focuses on the British, supposedly, it is the Americans who provide the key actions neccesary for victory.

    So what old, worn out tropes do we find (you can cross-check at TV Tropes, if you like):

    All Germans are Nazis? Check!

    Everything sounds more evil in German? Check!

    America saves the day? Check!

    Vandals of Venus is not badly written. In fact, it is a fun read but it is totally predictable as soon as the villain is introduced. Right down to the humiliating defeat he will eventually suffer. Still,  it is a chain of old tropes,  and also shows laziness or unwillingness on part of the author to get a few basic facts right. As I said, a couple of minutes on the Wikipedia and a visit to Google Translate would have improved the story a lot.

    Three out of ten Zeppelins.

  • Review: Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories

    Once again I was contacted via the æthernet and asked if I was interested in doing a review for an upcoming Steampunk anthology. This time it was Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, due to be released October 11th.

    Anthologies have thus far been something of a mixed blessing, but I was intrigued by this particular review offer, because it is a collection of Young Adult Steampunk Fiction, something I have not encountered before.

    Cover of "Steampunk! An anthology of fantastically rich and strange stories."The collection offers quite a variety of stories, ranging from romance to post-apocalyptic to fairy-esque. Every single one is an entertaining read and a few also offer surprising alternative views on the steampunk multiverse. Two in particular are refreshingly different:

    Some Fortunate Future Day, by Cassandra Clare, the tale of a lonely young girl surrounded by sentient dolls falling in love with  a soldier and then using a time-manipulation device… But I will not spoil the fun here.

    The second outstanding story is by one of the editors herself: Kelly Link’s The Summer People. This story could have been straight out of Sandman or The Books of Magic, I thought. Everything had a dreamlike quality to it, and the things the Summer People can do. Brilliant. I think The Summer People is the best story in the anthology.

    Another contribution I want to mention is Peace in Our Time by Garth Nix. Quite a dark tale for an anthology for young adults. Set in a world devastated by war, it tells the story of how and why the war started via a conversation between a young woman and an old man. Peace in Our Time is chilling and fascinating at the same time, you cringe, when all the little steps to war are mentioned and cannot help but see the parallels in our own history and present. You can actually make a case of Peace in Our Time being Luddite steampunk cautionary tale.

    Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories is an excellent collection of steampunk tales covering a wide variety of literary topics and motífs. Each tale is a unique and entertaining, some even inspiering. I think I will use some of them as a basis for role playing adventures.

    Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories gets eight out of ten Zeppelins.


  • Non-Steampunk Recommendation: Good Show Sir

    Today I am once again recommending another blog to you, my dear readers, and this one is not connected to Steampunk at all but to literature in general. As you can tell from the title of this post, the blog’s name is Good Show Sir, and what a clourful and entertaining blog it is!

    Their mission is clear, simple, bizarre and wonderful, as stated on their About page:

    There are many pieces of cover art that are beautiful to behold. Yet, there are others which exhibit a rarer, odd form of beauty. We think that such conflicts of focal points, lettering choices, false perspectives, anatomical befuddlement, ridiculous transport vehicles, oversized and frankly unusable monster-hunting weaponry, clothing choices that would get you killed walking down the street let alone hiking a through a frozen wasteland, clichéd cat-people, and downright bad art deserve their own special form of tribute.

    So after many years of passing snapshots around a group of friends, we want to give these hidden treasures the wider recognition they deserve. One can only imagine what in the three moons those brave artists, authors, and publishers were trying to do. Please don’t misunderstand, the content of these books are most likely very imaginative and brilliant. The art itself mostly excellent, showing clearly the time and effort an artist must put into their work. This is simply about what people decide to put on these book covers, with their own unique sort of imagination and brilliance. We laugh, yes, but wholeheartedly salute their greatness too.

    So right now, over at Good Show Sir, the largest collection of odd, bizarre, weird, and unbelievable book coversis being assembled. Some part of the collection comes from the people of Good Show Sir, others are being sent in by readers.

    It is truely astounding what art has made ot onto the cover of some books. Just take the following examples (click on the image to get to the corresponding article):

    Night of the Saucers Cover
    Night of the Saucers
    The Little People
    The Little People

    Yes, these are real covers, no fakes, no foul play involved here, except for foul taste, maybe… So, pay Good Show Sir a visit. I am pretty sure you will be amazaed about the oddities awaiting discovery…

  • Review: The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities

    The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities CoverThe Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities is by far the strangest collection of tales I have thus far laid my hands on. It is also one of the most fascinating.

    Where to start? This whole book is one complete piece of art, within and without. The hardcover is beautifully designed and a gem in every bookshelf. The stories,tales, artwork, photographs inside are entertaining, inspiering and sometimes rather haunting. The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists really contains some curious pieces, the title does not lie, the assembled contributors also carry quite a literary punch. Among them are such notables as Michael Moorcock and Cherie Priest.

    As is to be expected by an anthology, the stories differ in quality but there is not a single one in the whole book I would consider mediocre. Every single piece is highly enjoyable and the different styles make for a very divers and entertaining reading experience. Moreover, since all stories describe the contents of the eponymoous cabinet of curiosities, they form one great narrative and paint one great combinig picture.

    And what a picture it is. The Cabinet of Curiosities comes from a strangely familiar and yet disturbingly different Steampunk version of our own world. It writes a what-if narrative of a Steampunk past reaching into a Steampunk/Dieselpunk present. I found it most fascinating how many different aspects of a Steampunk/Dieselpunk (and in one case teslapunk) version of earth are tackled within the pages of this book. Education, religion, life extension, other medical subjects, curiosities of all shapes and sizes, the contributing authors have created an astounding and clourful collection, one amazing piece of art. And it is not only the quality of the writing that makes this anthology so enjoyable. The artwork, too, is fittingly and hauntingly beautiful. Sketches, drawings, photographs of props, everything fits together and adds to the narrative of the book, enhabcing it and giving it more substance.

    A final aspect I do not want to forget: Almost every single story in this collection and every contraption and phyiscal curiosity described in these pages can be used as a hook or central piece in a Steampunk role playing adventure. This is a quality I have thus far not encountered in any other piece of Steampunk related literature so far.

    What can I say,The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists gets ten out of ten Zeppelins and I can heartily recommend it!



  • Review: Steampunk Emporium

    Cover of Steampunk EmporiumSteampunk Emporium is another book blending fantasy with reality. It is about DIY steampunk art, jewellery to be precise, flavoured with short dispatches set in a steampunk world at the beginning of each chapter. The dispatches are sent from various locations by the intrepid correspondent Emilly Ladybird.
    First impression: Beautiful. The design, layout and artwork of Steampunk Emporium is stunning and very steampunk in deed. The pieces themselves are fairly simple and the book provides step-by-step-instructions for creating each. I actually had the pieces at home to at least simulate the creation of the Empire Medal (pages 70- 73).
    Each set of instructions also provides tips for possible alternatives and alterations you might want to make.

    The final section of Steampunk Emporium provides a list of useful tools, ranging from essential to advanced and some recommendations where to get the material you need. It also commits a sacrilege in this section. Starting on page 107 Jema Hewitt a.k.a. Emilly Ldaybird gives instructions on how to take apart a vintage watch. Even worse: The item actually pictured and being taken apart is a vintage pocket watch. This is not the way to go! If you find a complete pocket watch, you leave it complete. You attempt to restore it to working order and after you fail you are allowed to take it apart! You do not purchase a watch and then turn it into jewellery! Antiques stores also usually sell pieces of watches, so there is no need to butcher one. Sorry about the rant…

    Sadly, Steampunk Emporium provides only one five items for gentlemen but I am rather charmed by the Empire Medal and the 1st Lunar Regiment Dog Tags.

    Also, I found the elements of the items a bit repetitive. There is too much focus on clockwork pieces. Steampunk is more than cogs and gears after all. The Atlantis Expeditions artefacts could have been more ætheric and maybe included crystals but they also rely on clockwork pieces for their Steampunkness.

    In conclusion: Steampunk Emporium provides the reader and tinkerer with some charming pieces to steam up their wardrobes. The pieces are easy to make and are thus ideal for the beginning Steampunk and/or tinkerer. A little more variety would have been a bonus, though and the instructions on how to cannibalize watches are unnecessary.

    Steampunk Emporium gets six out of ten Zeppelins (no butchering of watches on this blog!)

  • Win a Copy of Camera Obscura

    As you may know through following my blog I am rather fond of Lavie Tidhar’s work and consider his latest novel Camera Obscura to be required reading for every Steampunk.
    Now I have a copy of Camera Obscura to give away and you could be the one to recieve it. All you have to do is commend this blog post or send me an æthermail, that’s it. No difficult questions to answer, no obscure riddles to crack. If you want to take part, just drop me a note. The winner will be drawn out of all the people who contacted me up to April 23rd. The date is completely arbitrary and has no connections to Freemasonry or the Illuminaty whatsoever, despite the fact it includes the number 23.

    So, if you want this marvelous piece of Steampunk literature, just drop me a note, you might be the lucky winner. There wil be no second or third prizes, though. I just happen to have an extra copy of Camera Obscura, that’s all.

    So, good luck to everyone who wants to participate in the price draw!

  • Review: K.W. Jeter "Infernal Devices" and "Morlock Night"

    For those of you who were not aware of it: Mr. Jeter named us, the genre, the lifestyle. He is the inventor of the term Steampunk. His two defining steampunk novels Infernal Devices and Morlock Night are back in print now, for the first time since the late ’80s, actually, and I have had the great pleasure of reading and reviewing them.

    Morlock Night

    Morlock Night CoverMorlock Night is a sequel to H.G. Well’s Time Machine. The Morlocks have gotten hold of the time machine and are rampaging through time, bent on conquering Victorian London and the world. They are opposed by none other than Merlin and King Arthur. There is also a touch of Atlantis in this cocktail. Yes, the blood of the Atlanteans flows in English veins.

    The clicheés of the times (Morlock Night was first punlished in 1979) do not end there. The lines of good and evil are also very clearly drawn. The English are good, pure Christians while the Morlocks are guided by an old Nemesis of Merlin and an enemy to all Christendom. The Morlocks‘ behaviour and language is as far as it can be from civilized Britain: Their language sounds like a bastardized version of German and Slavic tongues blended together and they also use their hands a lot while talking, in the manner of the Italians. The crowning moment comes when the Dark Castle, the base of operation for the Morlocks, is visited: It is lockated in an alternate timeline in what will one day be… Germany!

    Despite what you may think now, Morlock Night is an excellent read. The clicheés are bad but you can regard them with some temporal distance and that makes them rather cosy and quaint. The plot is transparent but it does not hurt the enjoyment at all. I was both rather charmed and enthralled by Morlock Night, I could not put it down. In fact, I finished it in one sitting. Morlock Night grips you with the tension and action in it, it makes you laugh with all the bad tropes and clicheés and shows you how much development has been in the scene in the last 20-odd years.

    And in the end you close the little book and think it was too short and you finished it too quickly. Morlock Night gets nine out of ten Zeppelins.

    Infernal Devices

    Infernal Devices is quite a different reading experience to Morlock Night. Where Morlock Night has a plot that is transparent right from the start, nothing is clear in Infernal Devices almost until the very end and there are quite a few surprising and some rather nasty turns. In Morlock Night, good  and evil are clearly definded, in Infernal Devices, you cannot  be sure at all who is the protagonist’s ally and who is not.

    The novel features a somewhat happles protagonist, George Dower, the inheritor of his fathers workshop, who is dragged into a series of events both baffling and confusing to him. He meets fellow Londoners who are odd and than there are some who are even more odd. Most are people his father knew and who are somewhat in the know about things and think he is really in the know which he is not… Worse still: There are people who want him dead and he has no clue why. Infernal Devices managed to convey the protagonist’s confusion quite well to me. For  the better part of the first half of the novel, I found Infernal Devices to be a rather difficult and confusing read. A shame really, since the plot is interesting, the characters are most intriguing and the inhabitants of Wetwick and Dampfort are to my cthulhuesque’s heart delight. The eponymous infernal devices, creations of Dower’s father, are about as steampunk as it gets, clockwork abominations of various shapes and sizes, alas, the start is a touch slow.

    After all the pieces of the puzzle were in place, the confusion abrubtely left and the reading became thoroughly enjoyable. I could finally concentrate on the mad chase that was going on and could understand why all those people were acting so weirdly. It all makes perfect sense within the story. K.W. Jeter has created quite a marvelous world in Infernal Devices. Sometimes rather weird and alien but always concistent.

    The novel also ends with one of the biggest surprises in the history of literature I think. The world is saved not by might of arms, nor by magic, nor by love but rather by… Well, I guess you should find out yourselves and I hope you are as delighted by the final implied scene as I was.

    If it only wasn’t for this confusing start, Infernal Devices could have scored higher but still, it is seven out of ten Zeppelins.

    In any case, for their significance alone, Infernal Devices and Morlock Night are two novels no Steampunk should miss in his collection. They also make great reference material for demonstrating the changes which occured in fantastic literature over the last 30 years.

  • Pre-Release Review: Camera Obscura by Lavie Tidhar

    Camera Obscura is set in the same world as The Bookman, Lavie’s first steampunk novel, the events of The Bookman are mentioned several times in passing and the main storyline takes place some three years later. Although I recommend reading The Bookman first (simply because it is one great Steampunk novel),  it is not essential for understanding Camera Obscura. Lavie Tidhar’s latest novel is highly enjoyable on its own.

    Camera Obscura CoberIn Camera Obscura, Lavie continues what he started in The Bookman. Fictional and historical characters from various times are blended into the story in a most delightful, and in some cases rather unexpected way. The main protagonist is Mylady De Winter. The only thing connecting her to  EDIT: Alexandre Dumas‚ character is the name.
    Camera Obscura (once again published by Angry Robot) starts in Asia, in best Wuxia fashion and quickly turns into a murder mystery set in Paris.
    The novel contains two converging and intertwined narratives. The main story line is centered around Mylady De Winter , the second follows  an Asian boy named Kai who is in possession of a strange alien figurine.
    Lavie’s steampunk Paris is a fascinating, dark and dangerous place. Just like Great Britain in The Bookman, France has strange rulers, but I shall not put a spoiler here. The rulers, who came to power during an event called “Quiet Revolution” are a secretive council and employ a number of disreputable characters for special tasks. Mylady de Winter is one of these, others are the Marquis de Sade (a very steampunked version of him) and a certain Teutonic fringe-scientist whose first name is Viktor.
    The murder mystery soon develops into something far more sinister and it seems half the world is after something that was in the victim’s possession.
    Mylady de Winter willingly and unwillingly encounters representatives from numerous Chinese secret societies (all warriors in best Tiger & Dragon tradition), scheming courtiers, elements of France’s underworld and people from other parts of Europe. Through these meetings we learn a lot about the world Lavie Tidhar has invented, it becomes significantly more substantial.

    Eventually, Mylady de Winter finds her way to Vespuccia (North America). Here too, we meet an ensemble cast of historical and fictional characters. And it is in Vespuccia, in the presence of such notables like Sitting Bull, William F. Cody and Winnetou, that the story comes to a very dramatic end, leaving the reader speculating about what tale Lavie’s third steampunk novel will tell.

    The story itself is told in very much the same style The Bookman was. Most of the story is told from the perspective of Mylady De Winter with short episodes of Kai’s (life’s) story in between. Occasional flow-of-consciousness brings some flavor and insights into the minds of the main characters. The plot also never stops moving and there are some dark surprises and twists along the way.  These concern the plot and the protagonists, although many of the characters will be familiar to the reader, their role might be not. At some not clearly definable point, a new element enters the tale and all of a sudden the reader gets the sense of a terrible urgency, a vast and heavy shadow looming over everything… But I shall say no more about this.

    All these elements make Camera Obscura an incredible hard book to put down. A colorful cast of characters, a gripping tale of loss, gain, secrets and cosmic dread, all woven into a hauntingly familiar and yet very strange steampunk version of earth.

    Camera Obscura is also much darker than The Bookman, the abysses of human and near-human existence are explored and are a major force driving the plot. Possession (of one kind or the other), artificial extension of life, and certain vile things only possible with advanced technology, all play a part.
    Camera Obscura shows the reader some inner and outer demons. It is quite a different reading experience than The Bookman. Since I am a big admierer of Lovecraft, I obviously think this is a positive development.

    A few weeks back I was wondering if Lavie would manage to dethrone himself and make Camera Obscura my new favourite Steampunk novel.
    He did.
    I think Camera Obscura is required reading for every Steampunk out there. The full reinforced squadron, ten out of ten Zeppelins!

  • Review: Phoenix Rising by Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris

    The Cover of Phoenix RisingAfter the first pages of Pip Ballantine’s and Tee Morris‘ Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel I was under the impression of heading into a hilarious and almost slapsticky Steampunk adventure. Eliza Braun and Wellington Books, the central protagonists, were simply too much of a missmatch and their initial “conversations” too comical. I had several good laughs.
    Gradually, the lightheartedness leaves the novel, though. Keeping pace with the developments, the comical nature of their relationship fades more and more into the background. The pair gets to know each other better, and while still not fully understanding the other, they develop a grudging respect for their respective partner.
    The story itself very soon becomes fast-paced and action packed. There are quite a few instances, in particular the excellent, almost swashbuckling duel scene in the London Opera, when I felt like having to hold onto my armchair. Still, humor never leaves the pages. Within the very same duel there is one notable simultaneous question between the duelists:

    “Who is your seamstress?”

    That one had me chuckling for hours afterwards.

    But Phoenix Rising is not all good humored swashbuckling action. Not by far. The moment Books and Braun manage to infiltrate the Phoenix Society, the story gets noticeably, even drastically darker. Although there are hints earlier in the novel, telling of most nefarious events involving the society, I was relatively unprepared for the abysses of human behaviour and decadence within the Phoenix Society. Quite a twist.
    I have to congratulate the authors on their ability of putting a number of those twists into the story. There are several very interesting turns over the course of the novel. Some are entertaining and give surprising insights into some characters, their history and the world, others drastically alter the reader’s perception of the main dramatis personae. I dislike putting spoilers into my reviews, so I will say no more.

    The cast of characters is also one of the strong points of the novel. Every single one is believable, no matter how fleeting or detailed the description. Although Eliza and Wellington have some rather stereotypical traits, both have more hidden depth than one would suspect. Their antagonists are similarly fascinating. Sophia, Eliza’s nemesis, is Eliza’s spiritual twin, as Eliza herself notes, had they met in different circumstances, they would be the best of friends. The heads of the Phoenix Society range from scientist who has gone over the edge to complete and utter filth. Again I have to express my admiration for the creativity and writing-style of Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris. “Filth” does not even scratch the surface of what Lord Devane is. Of all the villains I have thus far encountered, he is by far the worst, and his claim of “superiority due to noble lineage” makes him even more disgusting. A villain you love to hate. Next to him, everyone other villain shines.

    And shining brings me to the one aspect I found rather annoying. Eliza shines too much. Wellington, although highly skilled and with more talents than one might expect, has some issues. For one, he is haunted by his upbringing, further, he is awkward around women and afraid of guns. Eliza is bold, confident, brave, liberal, resourceful, rich and a benefactor to the poor, beautiful and through her we learn how much more progressive New Zealand is compared to Britain. She even had Maori tutors for her martial skills. Her one negative trait is that she is quite a vamp. But this is something easily forgiven since she uses her womanly powers only in service of the Empire and never crosses certain boundaries. She is too good. I got the impression she is the authors‘ favourite brainchild and thus got only good things.

    But this is the only point of contention I have with Phoenix Rising. Other than this one point, the novel leaves nothing to be desired. Phoenix Rising is a real page-turner. The novel makes you laugh, gets your adrenalin pumping, makes you laugh again and fills you with the urge to drag the villains out from between the pages and give them a dose of their own medicine.

    Phoenix Rising gets nine out of ten Zeppelins.

    What is even better: Although Phoenix Rising does not end in a real cliffhanger, there are enough ends left open to warrant a sequel. Eliza and Sophia might yet become friends…
    I am looking forward to a sequel.

    A final note: The "token German" of the novel is, of course, a brute.
    A torturer in the employ of the Kaiser. He only gets mentioned retrospectively.
    In any case: Prussia under the Hohenzollern (the noble house which would
    eventually become the house of the German emperors) was the second nation in 
    continental Europe, after Sweden, to abolish torture. This happened in 1754.
    The German Empire was not fertile ground for that sort of attrocities, this
    was the domain of the Third Reich.