Who's Who Book Six

So you’ve found yourself in yet another section of the site where there’ll be spoilers… so if you don’t want to know about some of the characters you’ll meet in Book Six then look away now!

In this final stage of the adventure we get to meet new members of Team Veritas. They join with the rest of the team who stand around the stone monument at the end of the book. We might only get to know them properly in this final installment of the adventure but they have been important all along!

Hantaywee Fabyan

Fabyan had made his way through the group and was clinging now, ...

… much as Tusia had done to her brothers, to a tall but frail looking woman with wide jet eyes and hair as dark as a raven’s wing.
‘I don’t understand.’
It was obvious no one else did either.
‘Excuse me,’ the assistant from the check-in desk was growing anxious. ‘We really need to clear this flight right now,’ she said, her voice several tones higher than it had been before. ‘We’ve got to clear the run way. This flight is not part of the schedule. We really need to-’
Friedman took the hint. ‘Fabyan, mate, we’ve got to make a move. Are you OK?’
When Fabyan turned, Brodie could see he’d been crying. ‘I thought she’d left me. I thought she’d gone.’
Fabyan blew out a breath and wiped his face. ‘I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Everyone. This is my wife,’ he blew out a breath again, making it look like the words were mixing with the air and making it hard to breathe. ‘Three years ago she vanished. I thought she’d given up on married life. Had enough of my collecting, and my ways. Enough of me.’ The woman beside him patted his arm. ‘But it seems I was wrong.’ He drew strength from her but he could still barely form the words he needed. ‘ ‘But she hadn’t left at all. She’d been taken.’

(Extract from Secret Breakers Book Six ‘Circle of Fire.’) Show the full extract

We have met Hantaywee before. We have seen Kerrith visiting her in Site Three and we knew that she was a captive of the Suppressors. But it is only in Book Six that we work out that she is Fabyan’s wife. There have been hints before in some of the earlier books. Did you work it out? Did you know that the person who went to university with Kerrith actually went on to marry Fabyan? Hantaywee’s role in the story is crucial. It is only after remembering how important her friendship with Hantaywee is that Kerrith understands fully the bad things she has been involved in. It is her need to make up for the errors of that past that lead Kerrith to make a sacrifice at the end of the story!

Interesting Truth:

The Z Society ring that Kerrith wears in this story was given to her by Hantaywee. The rings are really given out by the members of the secret society to mark their commitment to the ideals of the society which involves supporting each other and taking education seriously!

Adam Tandari

Across in the sooty ruins of the estate, a little boy with the blondest hair and the bluest eyes ...

… Brodie had ever seen, was playing. Tandi’s brother had flown in with the family for the funeral. She watched as he dragged a charred stick across the ground. It made shapes as it moved and dust lifted in clouds. In his other hand he held a wooden statue of an elephant. The Jumbo Rush Elephant had belonged to Tandi. Her little brother was making it fly.
‘Why d’you think Miss Tandari didn’t tell us?’ Brodie said.
‘About Adam, you mean?’ said Hunter, finishing the last square of chocolate and looking across at the boy who played in the ruins.
‘She just never said, did she?’
‘What? About him being white, you mean? Or about him having Down’s Syndrome?’
‘Either,’ said Brodie.
‘What did you expect her to say? I’m black but my adopted brother isn’t? Or, by the way, my brother has special needs. We all have special needs, B.’
‘It’s just, I was surprised.’
‘I guess to her those things weren’t worth mentioning. Adam was just Adam.’

(Extract from Secret Breakers Book Six ‘Circle of Fire.’) Show the full extract

Adam is Tandi’s brother and we meet him for the first time when he flies in for her funeral. Tandi is black and Adam is white as Tandi’s family is a truly blended family. Adam also has Downs Syndrome. He has complete belief that Team Veritas will find the castle of Avalon that they have been searching for. His arrival in the story reminds the others in Team Veritas of the importance of continuing with their quest to find answers and he helps them determine never to give up in their search.

Interesting Truth:

Remembering Adam’s belief in them, helps Brodie finally make sense of the code of MS 408. I think he was pivotal in helping her understand even though his part in the story seems to be a tiny one!

As well as meeting two new members of Team Veritas, Book Six is the place where we get to know a lot more about a member of the Suppressors!

The Chairman

The Chairman didn’t like the Director’s office. It was too small. ...

… Nothing compared to the palatial suite he enjoyed on the penthouse floor. Shame really, the Director had never got to see that floor of the Chamber.
The Chairman reached into his inside pocket. It was a shame about a lot of things.
He flicked the photograph backwards and forwards. The black and white image seemed so aged now in a world where photos were full colour and most often filled the whole screen on a PC. The printed image from the developer’s wallet that you waited so long to collect, was a thing of a past he’d spent his whole adult life trying to overcome. He ran his hand across the matt surface of the photo and let his finger hover a moment over the faces smiling out at him. Were they laughing at him then, he wondered? Were they aware how much he longed to be part of what they did? He sniffed and put the photograph away. Then, he had been on the wrong side of the lens. That wasn’t true now. If there were still sides, and he knew for certain there were, he was on the right side now.

(Extract from Secret Breakers Book Six ‘Circle of Fire.’) Show the full extract

'The Chairman'. He's too evil for us to show you his face!

We actually first encountered the Chairman way back in The Power of Three, the very first book in the series. Then he seemed to be a shadowy character who we knew very little about. He was of course the Director’s boss and a very important member of The Tyrannos Group. But careful readers may well have worked out too, that he was the child who took the photograph of Jon, Robbie and Alex when they were children at Bletchley Park first working on the code of MS 408. We initially heard about the idea that Jon, Alex and Robbie may have left a person out of their games way back in Orphan of the Flames and careful tracing back to the photograph make have alerted keen readers to the idea that that child who was left out grew up to be the Chairman. Perhaps thinking about the Chairman’s story might make readers think about how events in our past, if not properly dealt with, can go on to shape the sort of person we become!

Interesting Truth:

In Circle of Flames we are led to believe that the Chairman perishes in the waters of the Pacific Ocean. We don’t know this for certain though and so maybe one day, Team Veritas will have to confront their enemy again in another round of code cracking adventures!

Further Reading

So by now you should have expected me to include details about more real historical characters in this final installment of the ‘Secret Breakers’ adventure. Well here’s the part of the site where I share the pieces of fact that really are stranger than fiction and you will discover more about some of the characters from history who I have only hinted at earlier on in the series.

Ferdinand Magellan

Magellan was a Portuguese explorer. In 1519 he was the first man to lead an expedition from the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific Ocean. This expedition completed the first circumnavigation of the world but sadly Magellan did not live to see the end of the voyage. He was killed in the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines.

Reports of the death of Magellan explain that "nothing of Magellan's body survived. That afternoon the grieving rajah-king, hoping to recover his remains, offered Mactan's victorious chief a handsome ransom of copper and iron for them but Datu Lapulapu refused. He intended to keep the body as a war trophy. Since his wife and child died in Seville before any member of the expedition could return to Spain, it seemed that every evidence of Ferdinand Magellan's existence had vanished from the earth."

Magellan’s name does survive though and can be found on every world map! The Strait of Magellan is a navigable sea route immediately south of mainland South America and north of Tierra del Fuego (the land of fire). Magellan’s men were also responsible for several discoveries in the world of science. During the journey, Magellan’s crew encountered several new and strange animals. They saw a camel without humps, which was probably a guanaco and they also discovered the penguin, thinking it was a type of black goose.

Magellan was not the only person to lose his life on the voyage. There were five ships in the fleet that attempted the circumnavigation and a crew of 270 men…but only one ship, the Victoria, made the entre journey and only 18 men survived!

This short video clip explains Magellan’s story.

Survivors of the circumnavigation

On the 6th September 1522, the lone surviving ship of the expedition, The Victoria, limped into port in Seville, Spain, with only 18 men aboard. The crew had never intended to circumnavigate the world but their journey had taken them to the strangest and most unusual places on the planet! Amongst the crew were three men whose stories have been woven throughout the pages of the whole adventure of Secret Breakers. It is only in this final book, Circle of Fire, that we get to discover the connections between them and to realize that each of the three were survivors of Magellan’s journey. I took their stories and imagined that they were three knights of Neustria who journeyed together and saw wonderful things on their voyage.

Sheldon pressed on. ‘Says in here that Magellan was in charge of five ships on the journey. Only one returned. It was called The Victoria and it sailed into Seville after having sailed all around the world, like some sort of ghost ship with only 18 men on board.’
‘And one of those men was Pigafetta,’ said Smithies.

… ‘But the list of survivors shows the names of the others who returned.’
Hunter took the book. He looked more closely at the list. ‘Cornish pasties and chips in gravy,’ he said at last. ‘Now I understand why he’s so excited.’
‘Could you let us in on the secret then, please?’ said Sicknote.
Hunter read the list of survivors aloud. After fifteen names he read the name ‘Pigafetta’. Then he paused and read two more names. ‘Martin de Judicabus and Hans of Aachen.’ Then he put the book down.
Sheldon smiled in satisfaction. Now they understood.

(Extract from Secret Breakers Book Six ‘Circle of Fire.’) Show the full extract

Hans of Aachen

We first heard about Hans way back in Orphan of the Flames. He was a gunner on board the ship the Victoria.

Martin de Judicabus

Martin was an Italian survivor of the adventure and we see his name recorded on the map that Team Veritas discover in The Pirate’s Sword.

Antonio Pigafetta

Perhaps the most famous survivor of the journey, Pigafetta’s name was hidden in code in the walls of the Library of Congress. He was an Italian from Venice and he was tasked with recording the adventures encountered during the journey around the world.

In my research for Secret Breakers, I encountered Pigafetta’s name quite early on. I was excited to discover that Pigafetta was a very learned man and his job during the journey was to keep a detailed log of the discoveries made and the places passed.

He wrote about his experiences in Relazione del primo viaggio intorno al mondo (Report on the First Voyage Around the World). This was written in Italian. Some sections were published in Paris in 1525, but the complete manuscript was not made public until the late eighteenth century. According to the history books the original document was not preserved! How could Pigafetta have survived when so many men lost their lives? How could four of the five ships in the fleet be lost and he still make it home? How could the pages of his original journal not be kept safe?

A copy of Pigafetta’s Relazione is kept at Yale University in the Beinecke rare Book and Mansucript Library (the same place as MS 408) and once I saw the inside pages I knew I was on to something! Can you see the phoenix rising from the flames? Can you see the three stars? This book had to be connected to the story of MS 408!

Pigafetta’s manuscript was listed as MS 351,...

… also part of the general collection, but Brodie thought it would have been impossible for two manuscripts to have looked more different. MS 408 had been tatty and scruffy, its edges uneven and stained. This book was clean and regular in shape and it was bound with a perfect scarlet leather cover, bordered with intricate golden patterning. It was beautiful in an obvious sort of way.
Smithies turned the cover. The inside was bright with swirling orange and red patterns twisting and curling like flames. Across the middle of the inside cover was the university stamp like the one in MS 408. ‘Lux and Veritas’ Brodie read again to herself. ‘Light and truth.’
Smithies turned the pages. Endpapers of white followed. Clean and un-scuffed. This manuscript had been treated with care. But on the sixth page, someone had written notes by hand, down the page and in the corners across it.
‘It’s in French, I think,’ said Smithies.
Granddad shuffled closer and peered in.
‘Well?’ said Brodie.
‘Give me a mo.’
Her granddad understood her impatience. They all did. They wanted to know what it said. And they wanted to know quickly. ‘It’s something about how this is the manuscript which was presented to the Grand Master of Rhodes.’
‘Who the McFlurry was he?’ hissed Hunter.
No one knew, but Tusia leant forward and, using Brodie’s phone, she began to take photos of the pages. They’d talked before about how Mr Watson might not like this and how he might bang on about light levels and possible damage to the book. As it was, Mr Watson didn’t notice. He was busy with the sword.
Photos of the pages had been Tusia’s idea. If they couldn’t take the manuscript with them they needed records of what they saw. If this manuscript was as important as they hoped, and it was really part of the puzzle, they needed all the photos they could take.
Smithies moved forward again, lifted the flypage and turned.
The next page made Brodie’s heart thump.
Stamped clearly and boldly across the following page, and wreathed with leaves, were three stars. Perhaps the three Knights of Neustria. Pigafetta, and Martin and Hans.
But more important than that - more exciting and more powerful - was another image.
Strong and elegant, and lit for a moment in the brilliant flash of the phone , was a picture of a phoenix.

(Extract from Secret Breakers Book Six ‘Circle of Fire.’) Show the full extract

I read the translated version of sections of Pigafetta’s book and I discovered a map of nine islands that had not been labeled. Added to this was the discovery that there was a two week gap in his note taking. I began to believe that Pigafetta had discovered Avalon amongst the islands in the Pacific and that he was keeping his discovery a secret! It made sense to me that Pigafetta could have written MS 408 in code to ensure that his discovery was kept safe.

For me, Hans of Aachen, Martin de Judicabus and Antonio Pigafetta were not only lucky survivors aboard the Victoria. They were Knights of Neustria who had seen Avalon!

And of course the story of Circle of Fire ends with an encounter with more Knights of Neustria.

The Caretakers of Kanton Island

Kanton Island (also known as Canton Island or Abariringa Island), is the largest of the Phoenix Islands. It is also the most northerly of the islands and the only one that is ‘officially’ inhabited. There is a huge lagoon on the island and only a long strip of land on which to live. The number of inhabitants has been reducing in recent years. At the turn of the century there was as many as 60 but by May 2010 the population was down to 24, with 14 adults and 10 children. These inhabitants work to protect Kanton and the other parts of the Phoenix Islands and so for me it made perfect sense to imagine that they were Knights of Neustria and therefore protectors of Avalon.

Modern day Knights of Neustria… a final challenge!

And so we have met all the characters from the story of Secret Breakers…or have we? The adventure series might be over but that doesn’t mean that there are not new Knights of Neustria to find! Perhaps as you have read about these real characters from history you have thought about other writers, explorers, politicians and poets who may well have been Knights charged with protecting the secrets of Avalon. Or maybe you have thought about yourself and your friends and how you could be part of the team chosen to protect stories across the world. I’d love it if you saw yourself as a modern Knight of Neustria whose job it was to make sure that important stories never died. If you would like to take on this role then let me know! I’d love to hear from you and hear how exactly you are going to make sure that stories are preserved. Drop me a line at H.L. Dennis c/o Hodder Children’s Books, 338 Euston Road, London NW1 3BH and I’ll make sure to send you on some Secret Breakers goodies!

Hopefully, you’ve learnt from Secret Breakers that stories can be hidden anywhere and as a modern Knight of Neustria you will continue to do all you can to ensure that important stories don’t get forgotten but that they rise like the a phoenix from the fire…and fly!

The boat took them back to Kanton. Kahuna was waiting for them....

… ‘It is good you were the ones who made the journey here,’ he said quietly. ‘Knights of Neustria must be tested in the fire.’ He traced a ring deep into the sand. The waves curled up the beach but they did not reach what he had drawn. Kahuna gestured to them and they knelt beside him around the edge of the circle. They bowed their heads and, in the silence, the sun beat down on their shoulders like the blade of a sword.
‘When you leave this place, you know that you must continue to protect all that you have seen and learnt.’ Kahuna added. ‘That is the promise of the Knights of Neustria.’
Brodie felt as if she was going to burst with pride. That’s what they were then, now. Not just those who hoped to be Knights. But actually part of a network of protectors that stretched back through time. The thought made her smile.

(Extract from Secret Breakers Book Six ‘Circle of Fire.’) Show the full extract

Good Luck in your mission Knights of Neustria and thank you for journeying this far with the Secret Breakers!