Book One:
The Power of Three

Details & Summary

Receiving a coded invitation through the post means that Brodie’s life will never be the same again. ‘The Power of Three’ begins with Brodie Bray’s recruitment to join Team Veritas, a secret section of the Black Chamber reinstated at Station X in England.

Brodie & Bletchley Park

Brodie moves to Bletchley Park and begins her code and cipher training along with two other recruits, Hunter Jenkins and Tusia Petalova. Each of these three ‘secret breakers’ have their own individual powers to help them solve the codes. Very quickly, the time for testing arrives and Brodie must take part in a selection task to see if she is worthy of joining Team Veritas and therefore able to have a go at cracking the most fascinating unsolved code in the world.

The Voynich Manuscript

MS 408 is the classification name or code name for the Voynich manuscript, a book containing over 240 pages and discovered by the book collector Wilfred Voynich in a trunk in Mondragone Castle in Italy in 1912. The book contains paintings of plants and people; strange buildings and stars. Every word of the manuscript is in code. (The whole of the manuscript is filed on line so you can check out the pages by following this link…)

Team Veritas

Team Veritas has been recalled because there is a chance that new information will lead to the breaking of the code of MS 408. Friedman, a descendant of a code cracker involved with Bletchley in the past, has received a letter. It is sealed with red wax and the mark of a phoenix. The letter is the Firebird Code and suggests that a single manuscript rescued from the burning of Louvain University in World War One, may be the code book needed to read MS 408. Team Veritas battle throughout the book to try and find the manuscript they believe has been hidden by Professor Leo Van der Essen. They need to break the Firebird Code to find the answers to the secrets MS 408 contains.

But breaking the code is against the rules. Level Five of the Ministry of Information employs people to prevent others trying to find the truth of MS 408. Level Five know about Team Veritas…and they will stop at nothing to prevent them finding the truth!

Locations Visited

Most of the action in Book One takes place at Station X as I really wanted to focus on the training and the testing that the ‘secret breakers’ received at Bletchley Park Mansion.

Of course they do make one rather exciting journey to a fabulous location. WARNING…..this part of the site contains a SPOILER so if you don’t want to know where the team end up then don’t read on until you’ve read the book. If you’ve done that already then click here to reveal the secret location the team travel to….

Codes Explored

The major code dealt with in Book One of ‘Secret Breakers’ is the Firebird Code written, I suggest, by Van der Essen, the professor from Louvain University.

The Burning of Louvain University

I was appalled to read about the burning of Louvain University in World War One. The library contained many thousands of precious and irreplaceable manuscripts and documents. They all burned. Yet the story that one manuscript was saved is true. Van der Essen really did flee from Louvain. In 1915 he told his story to George H Sargent. It was recorded in the Boston Transcript July 10, 1915. The professor explained how as soon as he knew the library was on fire, he ran home to wake his family. (He had two young children, one was only fifteen days old!) He collected the single manuscript he had taken from the library to keep at home. He told George Sargant:

I preferred to save this before all else in the way of personal property, and left all my belongings behind.

He travelled through Belgium to England, stopping at a little town near Ghent. There, he buried the book in a garden, inside a little iron box he called a ‘safe’.

I read this story way back in 2002. I began to wonder about which book could possibly be so precious it would need saving before all other possessions. I wonder which book you would take such care of, if you were fleeing for your life?! It had to be an incredibly important book…it just had to be! And the thought of this secret book was the story idea I needed to make sense of MS 408 and the spark I needed to write SECRET BREAKERS.

I made my very own metal safe box. I wanted to include firebirds on the box.

Here you can see photos of the Firebird Box and also a video of Van Der Essen's Firebird Letter.

The metal box I made