New Orleans

Booklist likes Queen of Swords

Yiiiippppppeeeeee! A really good review from Booklist:

Donati, Sara. Queen of Swords. Oct. 2006. 564p. Bantam, $27 (0-533-80149-X).

In the fifth volume of her popular Wilderness series after Fire Along the Sky (2004), Donati sweeps readers into two strong women’s personal journeys of rescue and redemption. It is 1814 in the French Antilles, where Scots noblewoman Jennet Scott Huntar is being held captive. But when her future husband, Luke, and his half-sister, Hannah, finally locate and free her, their troubles have just begun. To ensure the safety of her son, born during her imprisonment, Jennet had made a devil’s bargain with a dissolute, untrustworthy man. As the trio travels from Pensacola to New Orleans in their attempts to learn the child’s whereabouts, Jennet struggles to heal herself and her marriage, while Hannah, half-Mohawk, uses her medical training to help the city’s Indian populace and faces deadly illness herself. It’s both a smoothly written, engrossing adventure about an early American family and a vivid depiction of the little-explored War of 1812, yet it’s more than that. Donati also delves into much deeper realities, such as race and prejudice in one of America’s famously multicultural cities, the complex patterns of revenge, the price of loyalty during wartime, and the transformative power of love. Avid historical fiction and romance readers will devour it. —Sarah Johnson

edited to add this link to Sarah Johnson’s weblog

quick! quick! Native French speakers — name that tavern

Still proofreading Queen of Swords, here. By tomorrow I have to come up with the names for three taverns (in the early 19th century sense) in New Orleans. One real tavern was called “The Suckling Pig” but the other two I’m having fits about.

So this is what I need: (1) How to say “The Suckling Pig” in French. (2) Two pub/tavern names in the same vein. Examples: The Three-Legged Dog, the Swan, Bucket of Blood, etc etc.

Those of you with lots of French instruction and a dictionary? Please don’t suggest anything unless it’s the name of a place you absolutely know exists.

Now, the truth is that I can fake this if I have to (in fact, I did fake it, but now in proofreading I find I’m not comfortable with that), but I’d appreciate help getting closer to realistic. If you come up with a name I use, I’ll put you in the acknowledgements.

Ready – set – go.

Queen of Swords cover copy

This is my revision of what the marketing people came up with. There will probably be some more changes.


It is the late summer of 1814 and Hannah Bonner and her half-brother, Luke, have spent more than a year searching the islands of the Caribbean for Luke’s wife and the man who abducted her. But Jennet’s rescue, so long in coming, is not the resolution they hoped for. In the spring Jennet gave birth to Luke’s son, and in the summer she found herself compelled to surrender the infant to a stranger in hope of keeping him safe.

To claim the child, Hannah, Luke, and Jennet must journey first to Pensacola. There they learn a great deal about the family who has the baby: the Poiterins are a very rich, very powerful Creole family, and without scruples. The matriarch of the family has left Pensacola for New Orleans, and taken the child she now claims as her great grandson with her.

New Orleans is a city on the brink of war, where prejudice thrives and where Hannah, half Mohawk, must tread softly. Careful plans are made as the Bonners set out to find and reclaim young Nathaniel Bonner. Plans that go terribly awry, isolating them from each other in a dangerous city at the worst of times.

Sure that all is lost and sick unto death, Hannah finds herself in the care of a family and a friend from her past, Dr. Paul de Guise Savard dit Saint-d’Uzet. It is Dr. Savard and his wife who save Hannah’s life, but Dr. Savard’s half brother who offers her real hope. Jean-Benoit Savard, the great grandson of French settlers, slaves, Choctaw and Seminole Indians, is the one man who knows the city well enough to engineer the miracle that will reunite the Bonners and send them home to Lake in the Clouds. With Ben Savard’s guidance, allies are drawn from every segment of New Orleans’s population, and from Andrew Jackson’s army, now pouring pouring into the city in preparation for what will be the last major battle of the War of 1812.

heads up

I was determined to send my editor the entire Queen of Swords ms. today, but alas and alack, I can’t fool myself into believing that the last chapter is done.

But I did send her everything else, 198,000 words. Now I have to finish futzing with this chapter and the epilogue, and then I will be done done done.

I hope you’ve all had a good holiday (pick a holiday, any holiday) and that you haven’t forgot about me entirely. I’ll start posting again regularly as soon as I possibly can.

And finally, here’s a statement I feel I have to make.

I get email on a regular basis from people who tell me with great seriousness that they really hope that Elizabeth and Nathaniel are the main characters in this novel, and how disappointed they will be if that is not the case.

That is not the case.

I understand the attachment to Elizabeth and Nathaniel, I really do. But the story has to be told in a certain way or not told at all, and this piece of it is mostly about Hannah and Jennet and Luke. It takes place in the Caribbean and in New Orleans, and the view you get of Paradise is restricted to an occasional letter. So those of you who are going to be angry about this, maybe you can vent now and then by the time the book comes out, you’ll be prepared to enjoy it for what it is. That’s my hope, at any rate.

At some point there will be another book in the series, one that will take place in Paradise and will have Nathaniel and Elizabeth as main characters. It will also resolve Daniel’s story, and Gabriel’s. But at the moment I don’t have a contract for that book, and so it will take some thought on how best to proceed. It won’t be soon, I’m sorry to say, but it will happen. Though there be mountains and lyons in the way.