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The Friends

Volume 2 of The Interregnum
A Novel of the Timestream
Copyright 2002-2003

by R. Sutcliffe

see also Volume 1 -- The Peace

Best Science Fiction
novel of 2003
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Plot Summary

The Friends is book two in the Christian sf (alternate history) series The Interregnum, set on Ortho-Earth (Greater Hibernia) during the sixty-year ban on the throne following the 1941 deposition of James IV, High King over two of the six Timestream earths.

Katherina Rourke's close-knit royal cousins (the twin Jacks, Liam, and Sean) who share dreams and heartaches as children, later combine to foil a coup, then form the core of Kilkarney's celebrated 1968 cadet class. But deception, betrayal, and conflicting loyalties divide them. Katherina takes charge of palace security, only to be framed for murdering Donal X and become the realm's most wanted fugitive. She falls into the hands of two colonels whose experiments leave her pregnant and riddled with cancer. She escapes to Jack Devereaux at Glenmorgan. There, Mara is born, and Katherina begins her recovery. Donal XI outlaws her and Jack, sending loyalist Sean against his friends with one army, while two other forces follow in double betrayal. Sean wins the battle and avoids the trap, but finds manse Devereaux torched, apparently leaving a single survivor, servant Karina Tansey. Sean leaves the field vowing revenge, and three years later, assisted by some unlikely and mysterious allies, he conducts his own coup, becoming Donal XII.

But Glenmorgan's survivors belie the tear-stained graves Sean dug for former friends Jack and Katherina alongside infant Mara's. Severely-burned amnesiac Devereaux servant, Karina Tansey, escapes the royal camp following the battle, and leaves Ireland to becomes Rosie Bolivar, South American rebel. Trailed by police Lieutenant Eamon McCallum to Los Angeles, she is trapped by Philip Desmond. She recognizes Eamon when he visits her in jail and recovers her memories as Katherina. She escapes, only to be trapped by Desmond aboard a freighter off the shore of Australia's prison colony. She swims to shore with newborn Sheana O'Toole, whom she raises. Then Philip is appointed prison governor, recognizes and recaptures her. She escapes to Irish North America and New Tara, but while watching "Death in the Glen" (starring Meghan McIlhargey) is again recaptured and returned to prison. There, she thirsts for a revenge she thinks may be realized when Thomas Monde becomes the new governor.

An interwoven story cycle thread follows two other Glenmorgan survivors through later years. Brian McIlhargey and his daughter Meghan enlist the help of Richard Kent, Protector of England, to establish a school for officers loyal to the true throne, and begin "The Friends of the Day." After the first graduation, Brian and Meghan move to Moody and, with help from a former enemy, operate another school. After Meghan is kidnapped, tortured, and left for dead by Frank Haggerty, the Friends give out she is dead and she goes into hiding to recover. She learns she is Mara, daughter of Jack Meathe, granddaughter of Seamus and Hannah Meathe, hence part Metan. Her recovery complete, Meghan (now Mara) foils a mutiny, then takes command of an uprising in Nigeria, another Haggerty holding. She operates a successful guerilla campaign and learns more of her heritage. Forced to release Haggerty, she departs for Tara as the twentieth anniversary of Glenmorgan approaches, hoping to redeem her family names.

Throughout, Mara and her mother Katherina balance loyalties for friends, for Tara's crown, and for the Lord of Heaven, while fighting off high-technology plots of the MacCarthys who hope to kill all the royals and seize the throne of deposed King James IV. An epilogue promises more in subsequent volumes.

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