Book Five:
The Pirate’s Sword

Details & Summary

In this next installment of the Secret Breakers adventure, it is finally time for Team Veritas to leave the UK and travel further afield! It’s become unsafe for them to stay in England and their code cracking and secret breaking has led them to make connections to places over the sea. The Team are off to the USA!

It’s in this book that the story really takes on an international feel. Members of the Black Chamber are travelling too and the Director is forced to attend an international meeting of the Tryrannos Group and explain to various people of power, how he has been dealing with the troublesome team at Station X. We get to understand that just as the codes are international and have world-wide connections, so too is the scope of the work of the Suppressors. It is not just the Black Chamber in London who wants MS 408 left alone. The orders come from an international group who want to keep control of the way history is told!

Leaving England gave me a chance to take the Secret Breakers to visit lots of fabulous locations in America. Book Five is also the place where we encounter one of the most famous un-cracked codes in the world. I have wanted to include the Beale Papers in my story ever since I began planning the series over a decade ago. Finally, we get the chance to explore the code in the pages of The Pirate’s Sword!

Team Veritas and the Black Chamber

There is no new member to Team Veritas in Book Five but we do get to see the scope of the Black Chamber membership widening. You can find out more about the international organization behind the suppressors in the Who’s Who in Book Five page.

The Codes

Just like in Book Four, we’ve got lots of codes hidden in buildings in this next stage of the adventure. There is one building in particular that is full of paintings and sculptures that contain hidden messages. Take a look round the Secret Location for this book to find out more! Brodie’s story telling skills really come into their own in this section of the adventure. It’s easy to see how numbers and shapes can be used to hide codes but I was so excited to be able to share the power of story as a code hiding device in Book Five. Knowing about how stories work, helps Brodie and the rest of Team Veritas unlock all sorts of truths in this part of the adventure!

Then of course there is the incredible Beale Papers as the major code of this story! I’ve been waiting to share this code with you for years! Check out the Secrets to Break Page to find out much more. But don’t forget, if you want to top up your secret breaking skills with more basic codes first, then check out the code and cipher lessons on the Team Veritas page to check you’re up to speed!

The importance of story…and the importance of fire

Brodie loves stories. You’ve known that from the very beginning of this adventure. But in Book Five, the power of story as a way to make sense of the past becomes more important to everyone on the team. The power of myth and legend is vital in the story of The Pirate’s Sword. The story of Prometheus helps the Team make all sorts of connections.

I have always been fascinated by the tale of Prometheus stealing fire from the gods. This story is retold in cultures across the globe. Sometimes, coyote steals the fire, sometimes all the animals make a chain to pass the spark of the fire from one to the other. However the story is told, fire is seen as a thing of great power and interestingly it can do great good or great damage.

In writing Secret Breakers I was always fascinated by the good and bad nature of fire. It can be seen as a great destroyer, or a fabulous energy that brings about new life. In the writing of the story I battled with these two concepts, thinking at first that I had to decide whether fire was a good or a bad thing! It was only in the writing of the series that I really understood that the true power of fire is its ability to be used for good and bad!

I explore this idea more and more as the series comes to its conclusion and you should be on the look-out for more fire references as we draw this story to an end!

Diamonds born from the fire

We all know a phoenix can be born of a fire, but did you know that diamonds are born of fire too? Most natural diamonds are formed at high temperature and pressure at depths of 140 to 190 kilometers (87 to 118 mi) in the Earth's mantle. It doesn’t happen quickly! Diamonds can take 1 to 3 billion years to form but they are brought to the earth’s surface via volcanic eruptions. This is an example of something good rising from something bad!

Who is good and who is bad?

Just like I battled to decide whether fire was ‘good’ or ‘bad’, so the idea of people fighting on the side of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ became more of an issue for me as the story of Secret Breakers drew to a close. We were always so sure that those in Team Veritas were ‘good guys’ and those in ‘the Black Chamber’ were on the side of ‘bad’. Life is always much more complicated than that and in the story of The Pirate’s Sword, all sorts of questions about whose side people are on, have to be asked!

Messages hidden in art

Careful readers of The Pirate’s Sword will have seen how many secrets can be hidden in works of art. It shouldn’t surprise you to know then, that I have hidden a secret for you in a piece of art too! Look carefully at your copy of The Pirate’s Sword. Make sure you examine the cover with extra care for if you look wisely you may just find a message hidden for you to find!

Locations Visited

Team Veritas leave Station X far behind in this adventure.

The USA provided lots of exciting locations for the team to visit and as always it was the truth about these locations that provided the most exciting links to codes! Of course there’s also a secret location, which I shall tell you all about if you click on the link. Be sure to check back here when you’ve seen all there is to see at the Secret Location!

Reveal the location here

I hope you have your passports ready because we are off to America and I am going to show you some incredible sights! Here we go!

Ellen’s Stardust Diner NYC

Hunter was on his second Frank Sinatra Burger at Ellen’s Stardust Diner at the corner of 51st Street and Broadway. …

… ‘Do we have to keep coming to this place?’ moaned Sicknote, as a waitress jumped up onto the benching between the seats and began belting out the song ‘New York, New York’. ‘We’re staying somewhere with culture and class and you all insist on coming here.’ He snuffled a couple of painkillers and washed them down disdainfully with a mouthful of Dr Brown’s chocolate soda.
Sheldon waved his arms in annoyance. Obviously, as far as he was concerned, there was nowhere more cultured in the world than an American diner where the waiting staff burst into song at any opportunity while delivering fries and burgers to customers who tapped their feet in time with the big ‘show stopping’ music. Besides, they’d left the diner’s phone number with the librarian so she could reach them. Hunter had suggested Friedman might not like them giving Brodie’s mobile number.

(Extract from Secret Breakers Book Five ‘The Pirate’s Sword.’) Show the full extract

There are lots of famous buildings in New York City…but I wanted to make sure that when the Secret Breakers made a visit, they got the chance to check out some less well known places too! Ellen’s is amazing. It would definitely keep both Sheldon and Hunter happy – singing waiters and plates packed high with scrummy food! There are lots of clips on YouTube of the wait staff in action…but I’ve chosen a clip to show you where they are singing a song from Les Miserables. Careful Secret Breakers readers will know that Victor Hugo’s story on which the musical was based, was once a banned book! Enjoy the clip!

Tiffany and Co

American flags flew from poles outside the store. The building was polished granite and each of the window displays was tiny, containing just a selection of intricate silver or white gold pieces. ‘Real wealth doesn’t have to make a peacock of itself,’ joked Fabyan. …

… Brodie lifted her hands from the glass. ‘So how much do those necklaces cost?’
The golden tooth in Fabyan’s smile flashed. ‘If you’ve got to ask the price, you can’t afford it.’
There was a bell at the entrance and after Fabyan had waited patiently, the door was swung open.
‘Mr Fabyan, sir,’ beamed the doorman, once they were safely inside. ‘It is, as always, our honour to see you here.’

(Extract from Secret Breakers Book Five ‘The Pirate’s Sword.’) Show the full extract

Tiffany’s is an international luxury jewelers selling lots of very expensive pieces. Since 1940, Tiffany's flagship store has been located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. I was fascinated by the story of diamonds and make lots of connections to them in the story of The Pirate’s Sword. Whilst researching Tiffany’s as a location for my story I read about the Tiffany Yellow Diamond. It is amazing and despite never having been sold I like to think that it is a phoenix perching on top of it!

New York Public Library

Brodie took a moment to centre herself. If she was told, in that moment, that she could never again leave the room they’d just entered, she was pretty sure she wouldn’t mind. …

… The tiled floor shone deep red reflecting the light flooding in the windows. Above them a golden edged ceiling was painted with clouds which scudded across a pale blue sky. And the walls and a balcony above them were lined with books standing like defences between those inside and the noisy outside world of New York City.
‘Erm, B?’ Hunter steadied his hand on Brodie’s shoulder. ‘You still with me?’
Brodie found it hard to answer him.
‘We’re here to work you know,’ he whispered sharply in her ear.
Brodie shook her head. This wouldn’t be work.

Extract from Secret Breakers Book Five ‘The Pirate’s Sword.’ Show the full extract

When in New York, where better for the Secret Breakers to carry out their research than in the New York Public Library? It holds 53 million items and is second in size to only one other public library in the United States…the Library of Congress. The Astor family, who we learnt all about in The Tower of The Winds helped fund this impressive building.

You can see from the picture of the reading room, why Brodie fell in love with the place! The library is an oasis of great beauty and quiet inside a city that is bustling with life!

Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia

‘This can’t be right,’ said Tusia, gazing up at the tall stone monument. …

… ‘What d’you mean?’ said Smithies.
‘The grave. The writing. What is says.’
Brodie peered at the inscription. She knew at once what Tusia meant.
‘He was the President, right?’ she said, quietly, for fear of being overheard.
‘The third US President,’ said Hunter. ‘Why?’
‘Because it doesn’t say so on this stone.’ Tusia had her hands on her hips, her forehead tightened in confusion. ‘If you’re going to write anything on a grave, then surely you write the most important things you’ve done. You said that once. Said they’d write “good at maths” on yours. And surely being President is up there, with the most important things?’

(Extract from Secret Breakers Book Five ‘The Pirate’s Sword.’) Show the full extract

Careful reading of The Pirate’s Sword will have shown you that the president Thomas Jefferson was a very important man. It’s vital that Team Veritas visit the place where he lived. But in order to learn all they can from Jefferson, time at his grave is also important. You can find out more about this influential president by checking out the Who’s Who in Book Five Page but before you skip over there you should really check out Jefferson’s grave stone for yourself. So many clues in the Secret Breakers series have come from messages on gravestones and yet it is what is not said on Jefferson’s grave that acts as a vital clue for our team of code crackers! You’d think that if you’d been president of the United States of America that you would leave instructions to include this fact on your memorial. Jefferson did no such thing and the incredibly important job that he did is missing from his list of accomplishments. This surely has to be a clue to a secret!

Riverbank Labs

Riverbank Labs was all Brodie had known it would be. …

… An eccentric mix of the weird and the wonderful. There were more zebras as Fabyan had only shipped his favourite pair to Station X. There was a troupe of monkeys roaming around the estate with the freedom Brodie was more used to seeing cats wander around with back in England. And there was the windmill. Riverbank’s own Tower of the Winds. And it was in the tower the team tried to decipher the message they’d found.

(Extract from Secret Breakers Book Five ‘The Pirate’s Sword.’) Show the full extract

When finding out as much as I could about British Code Cracking centres when planning the Secret Breakers series, I read about the home of Colonel George Fabyan in the United States of America. I knew I had to include Riverbank Labs in my adventures. Now the site is an acoustic testing centre but it was once a home for code-cracking! It housed a cryptology team (that included William and Elizebeth Friedman) that worked to decipher codes from the works of Sir Francis Bacon, Shakespeare, and enemy military communications. George Fabyan allowed the U.S. Government to use Riverbank Laboratories during World War I.

The real Fabyan ensured his home was really worth a visit, even constructing a full size Dutch windmill on the grounds. Careful readers of The Tower of The Winds will have remembered this being mentioned at the very end of that installment in the series. I knew then that the fifth book would end at the windmill at Riverbank…and I knew a new tragedy would await the team at this very different tower of the winds!

Bonus Location: Site Three: The Underground City

Now we’ve visited lots of locations seen by Team Veritas in America, I should make sure you’ve had a closer look at one of the sites back in the UK, used by the Suppressors, during the story of The Pirate’s Sword

So now you have checked out several of the American locations visited in Book Five make sure you check out the secret location!