Sentinels of New Orleans
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: TOR Books
Date of Publication: November 8, 2016
Number of pages: 336
Word Count: approx. 93,000
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen
Suzanne Johnson's "strong and intriguing" (Publishers Weekly) urban fantasy series continues with Belle Chasse. The Sentinels of New Orleans series has earned starred reviews from Library Journal ("a resourceful heroine who relies on her magical ingenuity") and PW ("vivid...a lively tale jam-packed with action, magic, and intriguing plot twists").
With the wizard-elven treaty on the verge of collapse, the preternatural world stands on the brink of war. Unless former wizard sentinel DJ Jaco manages to keep the elven leader, Quince Randolph, focused on peace and not personal matters.
With no one on the throne, Faerie is in chaos, with rival princes battling for power. The still-undead pirate, Jean Lafitte, is building his own army of misfits, and DJ stripped of her job and hiding in the Beyond to avoid the death sentence handed down by the wizard Council of Elders can’t get anywhere near her beloved New Orleans or her significant something-or-other, Alex.
It's time to choose sides. Friends will become enemies, enemies will become allies, and not everyone will survive. DJ and her friends will learn a hard lesson: sometimes, even the ultimate sacrifice isn’t enough.
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Pirate Talk (A Jean Lafitte Pop Quiz)
Most of the time, urban fantasy authors work with fantastical characters they construct of whole cloth. We can make them as evil or as heroic as we want, throwing in a few random flaws for realism.
But when I created the preternatural species of the Historical Undead for my Sentinels of New Orleans series, I had a chance to work with real figures. Historic New Orleanians like Louis Armstrong or voodoo queen Marie Laveau get to pop in occasionally, since famous people are given immortality by the magic of human memory.
Which brings us to the early 19th-century pirate Jean Lafitte. I knew little about Jean (for after three novels and a number of short stories I truly feel we’re on a first-name basis) when I began writing the series—only that I needed a colorful guy to appear in a couple of scenes.
Which led to research. A lot of research. And, in the process, yeah, I kinda fell in love with a dead pirate. It can happen to the best of us.
Jean has his own bookshelf in my office now, filled with biographies and “diaries” of varying degrees of believability. And, to my delight, he’s proven popular with readers. How much of “my” Jean Lafitte is true? Here’s a quick quiz to test your knowledge of the real Jean Lafitte and see how he stacks up against the sexy scoundrel who walks the streets of Old Orleans in the Sentinels series.
True or False?
1. The real Jean Lafitte was born in what is now Haiti.
2. Jean Lafitte spelled his name Laffite.
3. There were five children in the Lafitte family.
4. Jean Lafitte was extraordinarily tall for his time, at six-foot-two.
5. Thanks to his education and manners, the real Lafitte was able to hobhob with New Orleans high society.
6. Jean Lafitte spent time in the New Orleans jail known as the Calaboose.
7. An expert marksman and unflinching disciplinarian, Lafitte never lost a duel, nor suffered a traitor to live.
8. Lafitte was considered a Robin Hood figure by the people of New Orleans.
9. Jean was fluent in four languages.
10. Lafitte died at age 45 in a battle at sea.
How’s your knowledge of Le Capitaine, as he was called by the thousand men who pledged fealty to him in his “Kingdom of Barataria” south of New Orleans?
1. Probably false. Jean was good at telling people what best suited him in any given situation, so some scholars believe the claims that he was born in the French colony of San Domingue, the son of a wealthy tradesman. But he most often claimed to have been born in France, in the Bordeaux area, where a number of Laffites/Lafittes have been shown to live, although his family might have emigrated to San Domingue when he was a boy.
2. True. Jean and his brother Pierre both consistently spelled their name “Laffite.” It is history that has Americanized it to Lafitte. My editor and I talked about how we should spell his name in the Sentinels books and decided the spelling “Lafitte” is so widespread, everyone would think “Laffite” was a typo.
3. Probably true. We know Jean had an older brother named Pierre, with whom he had several business ventures. It is believed that Jean’s most-trusted colleague, Dominique You (or Youx), was in fact Jean and Pierre’s oldest half-brother, Alexandre, although there’s really nothing more than hearsay to support that. There also might have been two older half-sisters. Jean was the baby of the family and his and Pierre’s mother is believed to have died when they were young. I went ahead and made Dom Jean’s half-brother in the books.
4. True. Historians are unanimous on this one. At a time when the average man was five-seven, Captain Lafitte stood six-two and is described as “fair-skinned,” with dark hair, and a “well-formed” build. (Rawr.) There is some disagreement on eye color, however. They might have been dark blue, hazel, or black. One biographer even said they were lavender, which I found highly unlikely. I picked dark blue.
5. False. Oh, Jean was quite welcome at the gambling houses and the gentlemen’s clubs with his fine clothes and fine manners, but he was never included in the goings-on of the New Orleans elite. And it rankled. There’s a well-documented incident in which he was included in a rare society event after the victory in the War of 1812. Always quick to anger, he was enraged by a catty comment by one of the attendees about “pirates,” and left the event early.
6. False. Jean was never arrested, although he fled New Orleans a step ahead of the law several times. His brother Pierre, however, was arrested on charges of smuggling, and spent a miserable summer chained to the wall in the squalid prison. He suffered a stroke during this time, and never completely regained his health. Finally, he mysteriously “escaped,” likely with his younger brother’s help, after Jean struck a deal with Andrew Jackson to help defend New Orleans in what became known as the Battle of New Orleans.
7. False. It is true that Jean never lost a duel, and he fought several. He also on more than one occasion hanged one or more of his own men who had broken his rules (which included never taking an American ship by force). For other crimes, however, he had other punishments. A man of Barataria accused of theft or of rape, for example, he set adrift far at sea. What happened then wasn’t Jean’s concern.
8. True. At the time Jean appeared on the scene about 1803-1806, New Orleanians had been suffering under a shipping embargo for years. What goods were available, were expensive. Thanks to the brothers Lafitte, suddenly tobacco and spices and fine clothing were again available, and at lower costs than they could be bought by the local merchants. The merchants, naturally, did NOT consider Jean to be Robin Hood and wanted him hanged.
9. True. He was fluent in French (his first language), English, Spanish, and Italian. How much of his ability with language was obtained in school and how much over the course of leading men of different nationalities (more likely) aboard ship, we don’t know. “Fluent” is also relative.
10. Um…maybe. He certainly disappeared from written records at that time. There are three schools of thought: he died in a battle at sea; he died of yellow fever in the Yucatan; or he changed his name, married, and settled in the St. Louis area, where he lived well into his seventies.
Excerpt:I expected Christof to start a snowstorm above Rand’s head. What I didn’t expect was for the prince to lower his head and charge Rand like a raging bull, head-butting him in the midsection. They hit the ground, and I saw my chance at the same time Eugenie spotted me.
I motioned her toward the woods where the transport lay. To hell with the Blue Congress wizards. We were going to make a run for it while Christof kept Rand too busy to notice.
She set off for the woods, and I met her halfway. “My family thinks I’m crazy!” she wailed, loud enough to draw the attention of the tall, skinny Blue Congress wizard with the rooster haircut.
Holy crap. I whipped out the elven staff, paused long enough to aim just to the right of the wizards. They already had their hands up and were doing some of their nifty Blue Congress magic when I released my fire and blew up the tombstone next to them, sending a rain of marble and playing cards onto their heads. Around us, evidence of their magic appeared as tombstones began moving to block our escape route.
I grabbed Eugenie’s arm and pulled her around a marble stag the size of a small SUV. It had lowered its head and pawed the ground as if to charge. Blue Congress magic was so damned cool— create and re-create.
“Stop, DJ!” Eugenie grabbed my arm as I tried to race past her. “A sinkhole!”
I looked stupidly at the ground in front of us, which had opened a gulf big enough to drive a Greyhound bus into. “Go around and run fast,” I shouted, sending another shot of the staff toward the Blue Congress wizards and blowing up a ginormous marble eagle perched atop a nearby tomb.
We didn’t stop to see if the stag was chasing us, but ran for all we were worth. Finally, at the edge of the tree line, I hazarded a look back at Christof and Rand. The faery stood watching us; the elf had crumpled on the ground. Not dead, though, because in my head, far behind my protective barriers, I heard him yelling my name.
Christof grinned and motioned for us to move along. He didn’t have to motion twice, because the wizards were chasing us, still chanting and doing their finger dance. The stag was getting way too close.
I raised the staff and blew a hole in the earth in front of the advancing stag, forcing him to change direction. Luck was on our side for a change— the stag began charging toward the wizards instead, who had to stop pursuing us in order to protect themselves from being trampled beneath marble hooves.
“Let’s run to the transport before those idiot wizards can get out from under the stag.” I grabbed Eugenie’s hand and we ran to the clearing. “Help me roll this werewolf out of the transport.”
To her credit, she didn’t ask a single question. We tipped the werewolf onto his side and rolled him outside the interlocking circle and triangle, leaving him at an awkward angle with his
feet in the air. Oh well.
I touched the staff to the edge of the transport and said, “Winter Palace, Faery” just before the Blue Congress wizards reached the edge of the clearing. I waved at them as the transport sucked the air out of my lungs. They were too late.
As soon as we materialized on the round floor of ice in the Winter Palace, Eugenie screamed. I figured she was getting her first look at the grisly remains of Faerie Princess Tamara until a blinding light knocked me off my feet and a big crack appeared in the ice between us.
“Where is my brother?”
I whirled to see Florian sitting on a block of ice behind us bundled in a heavy coat, a blanket spread beneath him, no doubt to protect his royal assets from getting cold and wet.
“He’s in Shreveport, Louisiana, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help church, having a fi stfi ght with an elf,” I said, pretty confident that of all the things he might expect me to say, that wasn’t it.
About the Author:
Suzanne Johnson is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series
but perhaps is best known for her romantic suspense and paranormal romance books written as Susannah Sandlin, including the Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series, the Wilds of the Bayou suspense series, and The Collectors romantic thriller series. Her awards include two Holt Medallions in 2013 and 2015, a 2015 Booksellers Best Award in romantic suspense, and nominations in 2014 and 2015 for the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award. A displaced New Orleanian, she currently lives in Auburn, Alabama. Suzanne loves SEC football, fried gator on a stick, all things Cajun, and redneck reality TV.
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