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On E4 (UK) this Christmas weekend: Sword of Xanten (aka Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King)

For those of you on the European side of the water who haven’t seen it as yet: the E4 channel in the UK  is showing, on Christmas Day and Boxing Day / St. Stephen's Day, our 2004 miniseries Sword of Xanten (this being the goofy name that co-production partner Channel 4, like a terminally confused fairy godmother, wished on The Ring / Curse of the Ring / Die Nibelungen / Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King).

Kristanna Loken is absolutely worth watching in this as Queen Brunnhild. And there is, of course, the story: a somewhat-reworked but not too damaged version of the great German epic poem the Nibelungenlied.  (The trouble with the Ring mythos is picking and choosing which bits you’re going to keep and which you’re not. Our producers chose to avoid the Wagnerian additions to the story, hewing closer to the storyline as set out in the poem; though we also drew on the Eddaic sources for some pieces of business.) 

We had fun writing this. If you have time, pop a beverage and sit back and watch Brunnhild whale on Siegfried with that spear. (And chuck poor King Gunter out of bed before the real trouble starts.) Watch the fantasy-film debut of a young actor named Robert Pattinson (playing King Siegfried's young brother Giselher). Watch the dragon engage in mortal battle with Bennu Fürmann’s wig. (Those wigs never worked on the poor man.)  And watch South Africa look really amazingly like the Rhine valley…

Check the E4 program schedule pages for details. Part 1 airs on Friday, December 25, 2009 at 10:15 AM (repeating on E4+1 an hour later). Part 2 airs on Saturday, December 26 at 12:10 on E4, 1:10 on E4+1.

Kristanna Loken as Queen Brunnhild fights Benno Fürmann as King Siegfried
in Sword of Xanten

"Out Of The Frying Pan..."

A magic-user with a passion for food gets out of retail under most unusual circumstances...


She was arguing with a werewolf about the price of saffron when the veiled woman wandered in.

Veils were presently having one of those small renaissances that the fashion features of bygone years sometimes experience, so the shoulder-length sweep of dark gauze by itself wasn’t enough to seriously distract Annabelle from the ongoing disagreement. She turned back to Harl and said, “Look, you can't expect to pay supermarket prices for this stuff, especially since this is not a supermarket! In case you haven't noticed. When you consider what my saffron goes through before it gets here – “

“I know what you say it goes through,” Harl said, leaning on his elbows on the counter and absently twirling one side of his mustache, “but the prices you’re discussing are insane! Only the fact that you're the extremely nice lady that I know you are – for a one-skinner – has kept me from complaining about the markup until now…”

Oh boy, Annabelle thought, here we go, the Witch With A Heart of Gold ploy. Why is it we’re all either Good Mommies or Crone Mothers and never anything in between? And next, I bet, comes the not-so-thinly-veiled request for a discount. How many seconds will it take?...


"Out of the Frying Pan" originally appeared in Enchantment Place, an anthology from DAW Books, in 2008. It has since been republished in DD's ebook anthology Midnight Snack and Other Fairy Tales.