The Piraget Novels

A brief introduction

Pencil drawing of a church with carriages, soldiers, and cavalry outside

The Cathedral of Reims During the Coronation of Charles X, May 1825, Fragonard, 1825

Reading time: 2 minutes

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The Piraget novels are a series of unpublished books.

The first is halfway completed and the other two are sketched out. The novels take place in France during the Bourbon Restoration (1814-1830).

The protagonist is Lucien de Piraget - part royalist spy, part fixer, and member of the Knights of Faith, a royalist secret society.

The first in the series is The Sacred Lily.

The Sacred Lily

(65K words written with a goal of 90K words)

It’s the spring of 1814: Napoleon Bonaparte's fall is imminent.

Piraget is circulating on the margins of the ruling class, trying to hasten Napoleon's exit and restore the Bourbons to power.

Officers watch as the king covers a woman

Allegory of the Return of the Bourbons on 24 April 1814: Louis XVIII Saves France from its Ruin, Louis-Philippe Crepin, ca 1814

With the help of Frédéric Lafargue de Rochefort, an Old Regime libertine, and Olivier Bertrand, a commoner and the former secretary of a famous mathematician, Piraget manufactures a demonstration of popular support for the Bourbons in Bordeaux, floods the French economy with counterfeit currency, and plots with Napoleon's shrewd foreign minister Talleyrand to weaken the French military - just enough to let Paris fall to the Allies.

With all of these resources at Piraget's disposal - and with history on his side - a traitorous Knight threatens to unravel all the plots and keep Louis XVIII from the throne.

The Flight of the Eagle

The title of the second novel is taken from a speech Napoleon made when he landed in France in March, 1815 after escaping exile on the island of Elba.

The Flight of the Eagle follows Napoleon as he moves with alarming speed from the Mediterranean coast to Paris to recapture the Throne, where he begins his reign of a "Hundred Days."

Like most royalists in Paris, Piraget is surprised by the news that Napoleon has landed on French soil in March, 1815. While he, Lafargue, and Bertrand had years to plot Bonaparte's downfall during the Empire, now they only have a few weeks to prevent his installation in the capital.

Tussling, shooting, falling, with dead bodies and lines of infantry in front of a modest castle

Defence of the Chateau de Hougoumont by the Flank Company, Coldstream Guards, 1815, Denis Dighton, ca 1815

But they fail.

Once again, Louis XVIII suffers the humiliation of exile, and once again, Piraget must plot from the edges of society, dodging Napoleon's spies and balancing competing interests among royalist factions and the Knights of Faith.

Discouraged by infighting and feeling trapped in Paris, Piraget shadows the Duke of Wellington and the Allied forces in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, or present-day Belgium.

Despite the confusing movements of enormous armies and the inherent danger of being near them, Piraget has the good fortune of arriving at a farm called Hougoumont in mid June, where he meets with some of Wellington's intelligence officers. Impressed by Piraget's methods, rigor, and zeal, the British spies enlist his help for an upcoming battle.

Hougoumont is near a small village named Waterloo.

The Unobtainable Chamber

The third novel of the series is set in 1816 - a relatively quiet year of the Restoration until the frigate Méduse leaves France for Senegal.

A dramatic bunch of almost dead people, sprawled on a raft with a sail

The Raft of the Medusa, by Théodore Géricault, ca 1819

The famous painting The Raft of the Medusa, by Théodore Géricault, tells the story of arrogance and cannibalism at the center of The Unobtainable Chamber, but its backstory is one of geopolitical maneuvering, colonialism, and betrayal.

Read more

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