Wouldn’t you like to live here?
(Art by John Stevenson)
Fantasies set in Germanic cultures, like those based on Italian ones, have not been published much in recent years, yet in past decades there were enough of them to have their own subgenre: Ruritanian Romance. These novels were set in imaginary Central or Eastern European kingdoms and were full of G-rated intrigue, mystery, and passion. Lost heirs, arranged marriages, double-dealing chancellors, and spies figure prominently in them. In the books these kingdoms were depicted as existing in the contemporary world alongside France, Switzerland, and Russia and not in their own alternate universes. The most famous of them was Ruritania, in which the novel The Prisoner of Zenda was set, but there was also Graustark, Laurania, Syldavia, Grand Fenwick and, more recently, Zubrowka, from the motion picture The Grand Budapest Hotel. Ursula K. LeGuin jumped on the bandwagon in the 1970s with her nation of Orsinia, and more recently, Jacqueline Carey featured a Germanic nation known as Skaldi in her Kushiel’s Dart series (which can be considered an R-rated Ruritarian one.)
Here’s some Germanic — or Ruritanian! — sounding towns for a similar setting in fiction or gaming.
Imaginary German Towns