Council Of Fire – Snippet 01

Council Of Fire




Walter: I would like to dedicate this book to my wife Lisa, who has helped me see with new eyes.

* * *

Eric: Well, I was planning to dedicate this book to hideous gruesome monsters, who fill the pages of the novel and are such a never-ending comfort and delight to scribblers, but . . .

In light of Walter’s dedication, it seems more fitting (not to mention prudent) to dedicate this book to my wife Lucille, who has also helped me see with new eyes.

(As for you, hideous gruesome monsters, suck it up and stop whining. You’re supposed to be monsters, not crybabies. I’ll dedicate something else to you. In the fullness of time.)

Cast of Characters

The number in parentheses is the first chapter in which the character appears. Historical characters are in bold. Fictional characters are in bold italic

* * *

ENGLISH (and ENGLISH-accompanying)

Absalom (b. 1725). Free black man, a chandler’s apprentice in New York. (39)

Alexander, James (b. 1691). A lawyer and savant in New York. A Jacobite in his youth, he came to New York in the 1720s and became a loyal Whig. (35)

Amherst, Jeffery, General. (b. 1717) Commander in chief of His Majesty’s Forces in North America. Led the attack on Louisbourg in 1758; intended to renew the campaign against Fort Carillon in 1759. (18)

Baker, George (b. 1731). Lieutenant and acting commander of Magnanime, originally under the command of Sir William Howe. (8)

Bartram, John (b. 1699). Perhaps the most famous botanist in North America; he traveled throughout the continent gathering samples and categorizing species. (21)

Biggin, Josephus. (?) Merchant factor, located at Bridgetown, Barbados. (77)

Boscawen, Edward, Lord (b. 1711). Admiral of the White. Commander of Namur; en route to the Mediterranean at the time of the Sundering. (4)

Coffey (b. 1742). A free black woman, living in New York. She is close friends with York. (39)

Cotes, Thomas, Vice-Admiral of the Blue (b. 1712). Appointed to the Jamaica station in 1757; friends with Boscawen. (21)

De Lancey, James (b. 1703). Governor of New York Colony; in full authority from 1753-55, and again since the departure of Sir Charles Hardy in 1757. A patroon, well connected in New York and English society. (35)

Dunbar, William (b. 1718). Major in His Majesty’s service; commander of the 40th Infantry, aboard Magnanime. (8)

Equiano, Oladuah (“Gustavus”) (b. 1745). Igbo. Slave, owned by Michael Pascal. Wrote a famous biography later in life, one of the earliest literate black men in America. (5)

“Fayerweather,” Charlie. (Charles Evan Toombs) (b. 1723). Ship’s captain in the Caribbean. Originally from Salem, Mass. (13)

Grant, Robert. (b. 1714). Merchant factor, under contract to the Royal Navy in Halifax. (8)

Gridley, Richard (b. 1710). Commander of Massachusetts militia. Freemason. (42)

Haldane, George, Hon. (n. 1722) Scotsman. Governor of Jamaica from 1756. (20)

Hanover, Edward Augustus, later Duke of York and Albany and Earl of Ulster (b. 1739); Brother of George, Prince of Wales, and grandson of King George II. Officer in the Royal Navy since 1758. In the Navy he is called “Mr. Prince” or “Commander Prince.” (1)

Hughes, Edward (b. 1720). Captain of Somerset. (6)

Johnson, Sir William, Baronet (b. 1715) Superintendent of Indian Affairs for New York Colony. “Chief Big Business.” Molly Brant is his common-law wife. (6)

Jupiter. (b. 1736) A slave blacksmith. (39)

LaGendière, Catherine (b. 1737). Woman of gentle birth, daughter of a colleague of Messier. (11)

Leacock (b. about 1730?) Able seaman, rigger aboard Namur. Scotsman. (4)

MacArran, Kenneth (b. 1737). Subaltern in the 40th Regiment of Foot, stationed at Fort Pitt. (29)

Marshal, William (b. 1724). First mate of Namur. (4)

Messier, Charles (b. 1730). French astronomer, in the employ of M. Delisle, the French Royal Astronomer. Caught in the Sundering, comes aboard Namur. (11)

Minerva (b. 1717). “Mercy.” A free black woman, living in New York. (39)

O’Brien (b. about 1740?) Unrated seaman aboard Namur. (4)

Pascal, Michael Henry (b. about 1725) Lieutenant aboard Namur. Owner of the slave Gustavus (Oladuah Equiano). (4)

Perry, Francis (b. about 1720) Boatswain aboard Namur. Cornishman. (4)

Pinfold, Charles (b. 1712) Governor of Barbados. A “placeman.” (11)

Pownall, Thomas (b. 1722). Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony. (9)

Prideaux, John (b. 1718). Brigadier-General; fought at Dettingen with the 3rd Foot Guards. From 1758 commander of the 55th Regiment of Foot. Promoted to general after the Battle of Fort Niagara in 1758. (19)

Revere, Paul (b. 1734). Silversmith, artillery officer. He served Massachusetts in the French and Indian war. (42)

Ranford (b. about 1730?) Able seaman aboard Namur. (4)

Rogers, Robert, Major. (b. 1731). Frontiersman and colonial officer. Commander of “Rogers’ Rangers,” a “special forces” team. (19)

Saunders, Sir Charles (b. 1713); Admiral, commander of Neptune. Given charge of the fleet sent to subdue Quebec in 1759. (1)

Washington, George (b. 1732). Colonel of Virginia militia. This is just at the time of his marriage to Martha; thus, he is recently come into wealth. It is after he has helped set off the French and Indian War in 1754. (34)

Wolfe, James (b. 1727). Colonel of regular troops at the taking of Louisbourg during the 1758 campaign, given overall command of the Quebec expedition in 1759. (1)

York (b. 1743). Slave in New York, apprentice to a blacksmith along with Jupiter. (49)


Bigot, François (b. 1703). Intendant of New France. An intensely venal and corrupt man. (2)

Briand, Jean-Olivier (b. 1715), Vicar-General in Québec for Pontbriand. (62)

D’Egremont, Olivier (b. 1739). Third son of a minor nobleman, in New France to make his fortune. (17)

“Georges.” A French deserter from Carillon. (3)

Lévis, François-Gaston, Chevalier de (b. 1719). Second-in-command to Montcalm, army colonel. (2)

Montcalm-Gozon, Louis-Joseph de, Marquis de Saint-Veran (“Marquis de Montcalm”) (b. 1712). Brigadier General, in command of all French troops in North America. (2)

Pontbriand, Henri-Marie Dubriel de, (b. 1708) Archbishop of Québec. (62)

Récher, Jean-Félix, Pére (b. 1734). Parish priest at Notre-Dame de Québec. (15)

Vaudreuil, Pierre de Rigaud de, Marquis de (“Marquis de Vaudreuil”) (b.1698) Governor-General of New France. Top civil authority in the French colonies. (16)


Brant (b. 1710?) Mohawk chief, stepfather of Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea). (3)

Brant, Joseph (Thayendanegea) (b. 1743) Mohawk warrior, Wolf Clan. (3)

Brant, Molly (Degonwadonti) (b. 1736) Mohawk woman, common-law wife of Sir William Johnson. Sister of Joseph Brant. Wolf Clan of Mohawks; her father was from Turtle Clan. (6)

Donehogawa (b. 1734) Cayuga warrior from Ichsua. Scout. Surrenders to Amherst’s army to provide information. (46)

Fourth Sparrow (b. 1695) Onondaga wise woman. (33)

Guyasuta (b. 1725). Seneca leader, relocated to the Ohio Country. (26)

Kaintwakon (b. 1750) Brother of Sganyodaiyo. (26)

Karaghiagdatie (b. 1700) Mohawk Wolf Clan sachem. Present at the Treaty of Five Nations in 1748 (26)

Neani (birth date unknown) Clan-mother of the Cayuga. (48)

Osha (birth date unknown) Clan-mother of the Heron of the Oneida. (10)

Red Vest. (b. 1710~) Seneca warrior. Related to Guyasuta. (14)

Sganyodaiyo (Handsome Lake; pronounced “Kenyodaiyo”) (b. 1735) Son of Gahonneh, Turtle Clan, Seneca. Shaman. His brother is Kaintwakon. (26)

Shingas (b. about 1720) “Half King” of the Delaware, relocated to Ohio. Allied to Guyasuta. (26)

Skenadoa (b. 1706). “John Skenadoa.” Born a Susquehannock, adopted as an Oneida when he was a teenager, a chief by 1759. (10)

Tacky (Takyi), (b. about 1730?) Leader of a rebellion on Jamaica. An Akan, from West Africa, enslaved several years before the rebellion. (21)

Tadodaho (birth date unknown) Spiritual leader of the Iroquois Confederacy. (10)

Tekarihoga (birth date unknown) Mohawk chief sachem. (3)

Tiyanoga (b. about 1740) Mohawk warrior, named for the famous Tiyanoga (Hendrick). (3)


An-De-Le. (d. 1759) The leader of the Jo-Ge-Oh (“Little People”). (387)

Campbell, Duncan, Major (b. about 1720?; d. 1758) Scottish soldier with the 42nd Regiment of Foot (Highlanders). Along with many of his regiment, killed during a frontal assault on Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) in 1758. Bears a strong resentment against James Abercromby, who ordered the attack. (115)

Ciinkwia. “The spirits of thunder and storm.” Usually depicted as a tall man and woman. The man has a tomahawk and a bow; the woman a staff shaped like a sheaf of wheat. (98)


In reconstructing history, as historians tend to do, it became quite obvious that Newton knew. At the time that the comet passed, in 1682, he was deeply ensconced at Trinity College–not yet Master of the Mint, not yet even Sir Isaac–and as he worked on mathematics and how it mirrored the God of Nature, he was also obsessed with the study of the chimerical art of alchemy. In his writings, in the few published letters that survived, in the Waste Book that scholars were able to peruse after his death, it is clear that the effects of the 1682 transit were much on his mind.

Halley knew as well, or at least suspected; in an addendum to his seminal 1705 work, sometimes included in the published edition and most times not, he warned of the ill effects of what the vulgar called the “broom star.” He speculated–again, many editions of the Synopsis did not include this disturbing, rambling afterword–that the 1682 passage had fundamentally affected many people, making them more sensitive to the effects of the æther. The afterword was the source of much derision in the Royal Society; one reason it was so frequently omitted. In a rare act of human courtesy, Sir Isaac (for he had been so honored by that time) simply excised it from future editions and never spoke of it again. But as Halley lay on his deathbed at Greenwich, he told a story to his future biographer concerning a discussion he and Sir Isaac had had, in private, away from prying eyes and mocking lips, many years before. He feared what might happen when the comet returned, its orbit ever so slightly perturbed by its passage through the Solar System, a nudge from Jupiter here, a nudge from Saturn there. But that was still in the future when Edmund Halley traversed the gates of the infinite in 1742.

If others knew of the effect of the comet’s passage, or feared its next return, they did not speak or write of it. This was God’s work, and God allocated to each man only three score and ten years, be he John Plowman or Sir Isaac Newton. From the lowest to the highest, every man dies, and leaves worries and concerns to those who come after.

And as for doomsayers: every event and every phenomenon brings them out, armies of them, so that no one expected anything more to come from it in 1759.

After all, there were many far more mundane things to worry about.