Secrets to Break

In the world of ‘Secret Breakers’ there are lots of secrets to break!

Secret breakers make codes. And break codes.…

…Codes that contain secrets. Sometimes the secrets are exciting; sometimes they are dangerous; and sometimes they change the course of history. So, however hard the codes are to crack, it’s important the workers never give up. Mr Smithies believed this. He really did.

(Extract from Secret Breakers Book One ‘The Power of Three.’) Show the full extract

The Mystery of MS 408

The major secret that runs through the series is the mystery of MS 408: The Voynich Manuscript. As the team work to try and break the secret code the manuscript contains, they encounter other major codes and puzzles. As each book in the Secret Breakers series is published, this site will provide background information on these major codes and puzzles. Throughout every adventure though, MS 408 is key! So it’s important that you know as much as you can about it if you are going to be able to unlock the truth!

I love the idea of an unread ancient manuscript. For me, that idea sparks so many story possibilities. A race of people with their own history and secrets to protect…? A world beside the world we know…? A location in threat and need of saving? Those sorts of ideas get me very excited. So imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered there really was an ancient unread manuscript kept in Yale University and that it was written entirely in code! (You’ve guessed it…I was incredibly excited!!)

I remember reading about MS 408 one rainy Sunday afternoon. I felt I’d stumbled across an incredible secret and I was desperate to find out who else knew about it. A search around the internet showed me that lots of people had tried to break the secret of MS 408.

There were amazing theories and ideas about who had written the book and why. Many of those who worked on the manuscript had been driven mad in their quest to find the truth.

The mysterious text in the Voynich Manuscript

British & American Black Chambers

In our real world, trying to find out the truth behind MS 408 isn’t really banned by the government…but it isn’t exactly encouraged!

Many of the people who have tried to break the secrets of the manuscript have been so badly criticised. This has made others afraid to take a closer look. My idea of presenting MS 408 as being a banned manuscript in the stories developed because a lot of the work done trying to break its code involved secret organisations. The American Black Chamber were involved very early on after the book’s discovery in 1912. They set up a Study Group to research the manuscript in the evenings after work. Can you imagine? Members of the National Security Agency in the USA involved in maintaining the safety of the nation during the day, then working on the code of an ancient manuscript at the night! It’s incredible…but true. After the Second World War members of the British Black Chamber got involved.

“…the truth behind MS 408 isn’t really banned by the government… but it isn’t exactly encouraged!”

Watch this clip to see Brodie unpacking the Team Veritas version of MS 408

A very important code cracker, John Tiltman, heard about the manuscript from the Americans William and Elisebeth Friedman. His work on the manuscript with others in his Study Group, was secret too! If the manuscript has been researched by these very important secret organisations then perhaps it really is hiding an incredible secret!

So here’s your chance to have a peep for yourself. I promise you’ll be amazed by what you see. I was so transfixed that I made my own copy!

“So here’s your chance to have a peep for yourself. I promise you’ll be amazed by what you see.”

My Favourite Pages

I’ve chosen some of my favourite pages to share with you here…but don’t worry…I’ll also tell you how you can take a look at every single page of the manuscript so you can have a detailed look for yourself.

This first page shows the writing in Voynich’s Manuscript. It’s a beautiful type of writing. It reminded me of Elvish! I became so caught up by the secrets of the manuscript, that for my birthday I had a bracelet made, engraved with the Voynich writing on it!
I like this page so much! There are several pages in the manuscript that appear to make links to the stars and I was thrilled to see this page used on the back cover of ‘The Power of Three.’ I believe it is an incredibly important page in the manuscript.
Many of the pages at the beginning of the manuscript show strange flowers and plants unlike any that grow on earth. I am fascinated to know where these plants grow!
More strange plants but check out the weird red and blue containers down the side of this page. This page sparked lots of ideas for my story!
So this is my all time favourite page from the Voynich Manuscript. It is a folded page that extends out like a map and seems to show nine linking islands. If you look extremely carefully you can see a castle on one of them. The story possibilities with this page are endless!
Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Yale University

Every single page of the manuscript is kept online at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. Explore the pages more and see which ones spark ideas in your own imagination!

Perhaps you will begin to break the secret for yourself! Who would write a book like this? What location does it show? How can we get there?

Right: Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Impressive!

Before you check out the whole book here are five interesting facts about the manuscript’s history just to add to the mystery!

1 The manuscript is believed to have been written in the late 1400s or 1500s

2 It was found in 1912 by the book collector Wilfred Voynich in Mondragone Castle after it had been missing from historical records for centuries.

3 A letter found with the manuscript seems to suggest the book was once owned by Rudolph II Holy Roman Emperor from 1576 to 1611

4 Voynich asked many people to decipher the text. They failed. He hoped to make lots of money from his incredible find. He didn’t! After he died, the manuscript passed from Voynich heirs to H.P. Krauss, another rare book collector who then passed it on to Yale University.

5 The book has the name MS 408 as this is short for ‘Manuscript four hundred and eight.’ It’s a rather ordinary title for a fabulous exciting book that could unlock the truth about a strange new world!

Now you know the truth about MS 408, click on the links below to take to you to other real codes and ciphers that feature in the series.

Secrets to Break Two: The Next Secret