Page 77. " emerged over the Docklands horizon "

The London Docklands is  an area in East and South East London; the docks were formerly part of the Port of London, at one time the world's largest port. They have now been redeveloped principally for commercial and residential use.

                 

Page 77. " crouching on the roof of Westminster Abbey "

 Westminster Abbey is a Gothic monastery church in London that is the traditional place of coronation and burial for English monarchs. Neither a cathedral nor a parish church, Westminster Abbey is a place of worship owned by the royal family. It is located next to the Houses of Parliament in the heart of London. With its oldest parts dating to the year 1050, the Abbey contains some of the most glorious medieval architecture in London. Because of its royal connections, it was spared King Henry VIII's general assault on monastic buildings during the Reformation. The interior is a veritable museum of English history. Among many highlights are the medieval coronation throne; Poet's Corner with its memorials to William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and other giants of literature; and the tombs of Queen Elizabeth I, "Bloody" Queen Mary, explorer David Livingstone and naturalist Charles Darwin.

 

Page 77. " pretending to be a gargoyle "

Gargoyle
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeGargoyle - Credit: Cnbrb
A gargoyle is a roof spout in the form of a grotesque or fantastic creature projecting from a gutter to carry rainwater clear of the wall. Preventing rainwater from running down masonry walls is important because running water erodes the mortar between the stone blocks. Gargoyles are usually an elongated fantastic animal because the length of the gargoyle determines how far water is thrown from the wall. Gargoyles are said to scare off and protect from any evil or harmful spirits.

 

Page 81. " a small soapstone bowl "

Untreated soapstone
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeUntreated soapstone - Credit: Lyzzy
A soft metamorphic rock composed mostly of the mineral talc, soapstone is also called steatite. It has a greasy feel and was sometimes used as soap - hence the name. It is used for making tabletops, hearths, ornaments.

Page 87. " and apprentices were being bussed off to boarding school "

This could be a reference to Harry Potter's story.

Page 87. " since the days of the Median Magi "

According to Herodotus’ The Histories (completed c. 440 BCE) the Magi were the sixth tribe of the Medians (until the unification of the Persian empire under Cyrus the Great, all Iranians were referred to as "Mede" or "Mada" by the peoples of the Ancient World), who appear to have been the priestly caste of the Mesopotamian-influenced branch of Zoroastrianism today known as Zurvanism, and who wielded considerable influence at the courts of the Median emperors.

Page 88. " from ziggurat to pyramid, from sacred oak "

 

Ruins of ziggurat in Ebla, Syria
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeRuins of ziggurat in Ebla, Syria - Credit: Babur

A ziggurat is a type of rectangular temple tower or tiered mound erected by the Sumerians, Akkadians, and Babylonians in Mesopotamia. The tower of Babel is thought to be one of these.

 

 

Pyramids at Giza
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikePyramids at Giza - Credit: Ricardo Liberato

A pyramid is a massive monument with a square base and four triangular sides; begun by Cheops around 2700 BC as royal tombs in ancient Egypt.

 

 

 

Oak tree
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeOak tree - Credit: Eirian Evans

 

Pliny the Elder, writing in the first century AD, describes a religious ceremony in Gaul in which white-clad druids climbed a sacred oak, cut down the mistletoe growing on it, sacrificed two white bulls and used the mistletoe to cure infertility. The druids appear in Welsh and Irish legend as prophets and sorcerers. Oaks were held sacred by both druids and Celts.

 

Page 97. " cross-hatched a patch of shade "

Examples of hatching
Public DomainExamples of hatching - Credit: Baselmans
Hatching and cross-hatching are artistic techniques used to create tonal or shading effects by drawing (or painting or scribing) closely spaced parallel lines. When lines are placed at an angle to one another, it is called cross-hatching.

Page 99. " He dominated the Victorian Age "

The Victorian era of the United Kingdom was the period of Queen Victoria's reign, from June 1837 until her death on the 22nd of January 1901. Her  reign was a long period of prosperity for Great Britain, and saw the development of an educated middle class. The era was preceded by the Georgian period and succeeded by the Edwardian period. The latter half of the Victorian era roughly coincided with the first portion of the Belle Époque era of continental Europe and the Gilded Age of the United States.

Page 99. " duel with the sorcerer Disraeli on Westminster Green "
Benjamin Disraeli
Public DomainBenjamin Disraeli - Credit: W. and D. Downey

 Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, (21 December 1804 – 19 April 1881) was a British Prime Minister, parliamentarian, Conservative statesman and literary figure. He served in government for three decades, twice as Prime Minister. From 1852 onwards, Disraeli's career was marked by his often intense rivalry with William Ewart Gladstone, who eventually rose to become leader of the Liberal Party.

Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike"Green" - Dean's Yard - Credit: ed g2s

"Westminster Green" could refer to College Green, a patch of grass just outside the Houses of Parliament, on which political interviews frequently take place.  Or it could be Dean's Yard, Westminster, which comprises most of the remaining precincts of the former monastery of Westminster not occupied by the Abbey buildings. It is known to members of Westminster School as Green, and referred to without an article. It is a large gated quadrangle, closed to public traffic, surrounding a green upon which Westminster School pupils have legal rights to play football.

Page 99. " Gladstone was famous for his supreme energy "

William Ewart Gladstone, informal portrait
Public DomainWilliam Ewart Gladstone, informal portrait - Credit: Elliott & Fry studio
 William Ewart Gladstone (29 December 1809 – 19 May 1898) was a British Liberal Party statesman and four times Prime Minister of the United Kingdom . He was also Chancellor of the Exchequer and a champion of the Home Rule Bill which would have established self-government in Ireland. Gladstone is also famous for his intense rivalry with the Conservative Party Leader Benjamin Disraeli. The rivalry was not only political, but also personal. Gladstone was famously at odds with Queen Victoria for much of his career. Winston Churchill and others cited Gladstone as their inspiration.

Page 99. " bickered amongst the slums of the Ghetto "

 

Jewish Ghetto, 1890
Public DomainJewish Ghetto, 1890 - Credit: Sheynhertz-Unbayg

The Jewish quarter in Prague was formerly the Jewish ghetto of the town.  Jews are believed to have settled in Prague as early as the 10th century. The first pogrom was in 1096 (during the first crusade) and eventually Jews were concentrated within a walled Ghetto.

The ghetto was most prosperous towards the end of the 16th century, when the Jewish Mayor, Mordecai Maisel, became the Minister of Finance. A very wealthy man, his money helped develop the ghetto. Around this time the Maharal, an important scholar, Jewish mystic and philosopher, was supposed to have created the Golem.