Book Tour: Engines of Liberty by Graham Bradley
In 1776, the American rebels were thwarted by British magic. The leaders were executed, but the surviving soldiers went into hiding and kept the revolution alive. By 1984 they have developed better weapons and machinery to even the odds. Now all these “technomancers” need is an army for their arsenal, and their newest recruit is 15 year-old Calvin Adler of Baltimore. The problem is, he’s got a pretty strong will, and might give the technomancers at bit of trouble in training…
Calvin learns that the technomancers aren’t all good guys like he’d thought, and soon runs afoul of the worst of them. Now, with a bomb in his chest and a lot of ground to cover, he has a little over a week to save his life, or else become another casualty in the revolution. Meanwhile, an old enemy comes back stronger than ever, with ambition to spare…
Calvin is on the brink of death. The army is scattered, the commodore is dead, and the British mages know about the technomancers’ secret weapon. Just as all hope seems lost, Calvin and his friends find out the mages have a weakness, one that could end the war overnight and liberate the colonials.
But it will take a miracle to reach it…
He is fluent in Spanish, and knows the proper method of ironing a dress shirt. Despite spending less than 6 hours of his entire life in Indianapolis, the Colts are his team.
He lives in Henderson, Nevada, with his wife and sons.
Funny thing is, I used character models for many of these people, and a lot of them were friends and family. (Calvin and Godfrey were based on my wife’s two brothers, Patrick and Joe.) If they were to be cast for a film or something, I think I’d like some unknowns for those roles. I will say that I think Jonathan Frakes should play Commodore McCracken, and Marina Sirtis should be his wife Edith, for nerdy reasons. And I would demand a side role for myself, I’m just that vain. I think I’d like to be John Penn, the man who recruits Calvin to join the cause. That would be pretty meta.
Here’s a scene from REBEL HEART. It’s not the Boston Tea Party, but, well, the similarities are there.
Calvin recalled the trip he’d taken with his father. They’d left Baltimore and led a horse-drawn wagon all the way up to Massachusetts, where Father knew of a captain who would deliver their wool to a wholesaler in Nouveau France, for a small commission. Their meager stock from that season had filled only a small part of the deck on the captain’s ship; the rest of it was dried tea leaves in strong crates secured with a special kind of iron.
“Frosted iron,” the captain whispered to Father. “So as it can’t be magicked away by the mages, you see. It’s a special product from Ohio. Your load’s safe on this ship, Mr. Adler.”
Father was impressed. “And all this tea?”
The captain told how he and a handful of his friends had planted the valuable crop many years prior, tended to it themselves, harvested the leaves and dried them with painstaking care. It would catch a king’s ransom on the open market, compared to what the crew normally sold on their voyages.
Father and the captain shook hands and parted ways. Yet it would seem that not all of the captain’s commercial associates had been so discreet that year. After Calvin and Father had gotten off the ship, a trio of mages showed up, wands in hand, and matching sneers on their faces.
At the time, Calvin hadn’t understood what was happening. The mages demanded to know the captain’s intent for the tea. He and his crew bristled at the question. Some of them quietly grabbed nearby instruments off the deck, but they weren’t holding them the way they held tools. The captain stated his business, that they meant to sell their haul, and the mage casually said he’d have to confiscate the load.
“It just wouldn’t be fair to the other colonists, who don’t have any tea to sell,” the mage had said, signaling for his companions to seize every crate of product. Calvin scratched his head at this; if the captain and his men had done all the work, why shouldn’t they sell it?
Apparently the captain agreed with this sentiment. What happened next was burned into Calvin’s memory sure as a branding iron marked livestock.
Some of the crewmen were still loading crates of tea leaves onto the deck of the boat. Half a dozen crates sat on a platform mounted to the dock, all rigged up with ropes and pulleys so it could swing out over the water. While the platform hung between the dock and the boat, the captain uttered a word in what sounded like an Indian language. One of the crewmembers, a bronze-skinned man with pitch-black hair shaved in an extreme pattern, drew a tomahawk from behind his belt, spun around and hurled it with stunning accuracy at the rigging. The tomahawk’s blade bit into the ropes, sliced them clean through, and unlaced the complicated weave that allowed the platform to move. Six crates plunged into the salty water below, instantly ruined. To save the falling crates, the mages uttered summoning spells in the Old Saxon tongue, but the anti-magical iron did its job.
Calvin was pretty sure a fight had broken out after that, but he didn’t get to see it. Father clapped a hand over Calvin’s eyes and quickly whisked him away, telling him they were to return to Baltimore immediately.
Even now, Father refused to let Calvin speak of that day, and all of his questions since then had been met with a sharp command to put it out of his mind. Calvin had never forgotten it, though. After years of seeing Fitz and Birty squeeze coins out of the Baltimore residents, Calvin eventually understood why the captain had destroyed his load.