Six Degrees of Separation: From Stasiland to The Lady of the Ravens

It’s the first Saturday of the month which means it’s time for another Six Degrees of Separation, hosted by Kate of Books are my Favourite and Best. The idea is that Kate chooses a book to use as a starting point and then we have to link it to six other books of our choice to form a chain. A book doesn’t have to be connected to all of the others on the list – only to the one next to it in the chain.

This month, the book we are starting with is Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall by Anna Funder. I haven’t read it, but here is the blurb:

“In 1989, the Berlin Wall fell; shortly afterwards the two Germanies reunited, and East Germany ceased to exist. In a country where the headquarters of the secret police can become a museum literally overnight, and one in 50 East Germans were informing on their countrymen and women, there are a thousand stories just waiting to get out. Anna Funder tells extraordinary tales from the underbelly of the former East Germany – she meets Miriam, who as a 16-year-old might have started World War III, visits the man who painted the line which became the Berlin Wall and gets drunk with the legendary ‘Mik Jegger’ of the East, once declared by the authorities to his face to ‘no longer to exist’. Written with wit and literary flair, Stasiland provides a riveting insight into life behind the wall.”

My first link is a very obvious one: I have chosen a book set in Berlin. Death in Berlin by M.M. Kaye (1) is a murder mystery published in 1955 and set in the aftermath of World War II, when Berlin is largely a city in ruins. Although this is not one of my favourite novels by Kaye, I did find it fascinating because of the setting.

The main character in Death in Berlin is a young woman called Miranda. Miranda is also the name of the protagonist of Anya Seton’s gothic novel, Dragonwyck (2). Despite the title, there are no dragons in the book. However, my next link leads us to a story which does feature dragons…

Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb (3) is the first of the Rain Wild Chronicles in which a group of young dragon keepers escort a herd of dragons up the Rain Wild River to the mythical city of Kelsingra. This wasn’t my usual sort of read, but I decided to read it as I’d loved Robin Hobb’s previous books so much and have now read the second book in the series too.

Another novel which deals with a journey upriver is To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey (4). Set in 19th century Alaska, the book tells the story, through journal entries and letters, of Colonel Allen Forrester who is commissioned to lead an expedition to navigate the Wolverine River and chart previously unmapped territory.

I’ve read a lot of books written in the form of journals and diaries; one of the most recent was Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver (5), an atmospheric novel set in an isolated manor house in the Suffolk Fens in the early years of the 20th century.

Coincidentally, books 4 and 5 in my chain both have birds on the cover, so for my final link I have chosen a book which I have just finished reading and which has birds both on the cover and in the title: The Lady of the Ravens by Joanna Hickson (6), the story of Joan Vaux, lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth of York. The ravens who live at the Tower of London have an important part to play in the novel.

Well, that’s my chain for this month! The links included Berlin, the name Miranda, dragons, river journeys, diaries and pictures of birds. All of the books in my chain are by female authors this month too, although that wasn’t deliberate!

In May we’ll be starting with The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

25 thoughts on “Six Degrees of Separation: From Stasiland to The Lady of the Ravens

    • Helen says:

      I was surprised by how many books I’ve actually read with characters called Miranda. There were quite a few I could have chosen for that link!

  1. Davida Chazan says:

    Very interesting chain. You know, I get so tied down with themes in my chains, I forget that I can link using things like character names, elements on the covers of the books, or locations. I’ve got to loosen up – but I’ll do that for the June one because… I already wrote the one for May!!!

  2. Margaret says:

    Great chain – I’ve read the last three books and I think I may have read Dragonwyk many years ago. I’d like to read Death in Berlin, but I’m not sure about Dragon Keeper – it doesn’t really sound like my type of book.

    • Helen says:

      I’ve read four books in the Death In series and enjoyed them all, including Death in Berlin. Robin Hobb didn’t seem like my type of author either, but her books were recommended to me by another blogger and I’ve been surprised by how much I like them.

  3. FictionFan says:

    Love how you got from Berlin to dragons in just two moves! Some excellent sounding books there – I’ve read and enjoyed both Wakenhyrst and The Lady of the Ravens, so it’s good to see them make your list. 😀

    • Helen says:

      I wasn’t expecting dragons to end up in my chain when I first started putting it together! It took me a while to get into The Lady of the Ravens but I did enjoy it.

  4. hopewellslibraryoflife says:

    Good job! Bright Edge was good, but I liked the Snow Child better. I’m interested in the Death in Berlin (if I can find it). The Good German was like that–interesting for the setting, the story-meh. Good work.

  5. Literary Feline says:

    I like how varied your chain is. I haven’t read any of the books you mention, but I am familiar with most–some are even on my TBR pile. Eowyn Ivey’s novel for example. I am interested in giving Kaye a try and I have several of Hobb’s books on my TBR shelf, just not the one you list. Thank you for sharing!

    If you are interested in checking out my chain: https://www.literaryfeline.com/2020/04/six-degrees-of-separation-stasiland-to.html

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