The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff by Lane Heymont
Jeb, a former slave, rescues his brother-in-law Crispus from the Ku Klux Klan, only to be drawn into a world of Creole Voodoo, racism, time travel, and redemption.
Verdiss, the leader of the Ku Klux Klan has gained possession of the Pharaoh’s Staff, a magical artifact from ancient Egypt and concocted a diabolical plan far more insidious than himself.
In the end, Jeb and Crispus must stop an entire people from eradication and each find redemption for their own past sins.
Heymont has written an imaginative tale with an unusual blend of history, voodooism, and time travel that takes the protagonist, Jeb, and his brother-in-law, Crispus, on a haphazard journey from the Louisiana bayou to the hustle and bustle of New York in the post-Civil War era where they must battle with threats from the past, present, and future in their quest to create a peaceful world.
Jeb is a classic archetypal hero who reluctantly separates from his family to embark upon a perilous journey where he will risk his own life for the greater good of humanity. Jeb has experienced much hardship in his life. He grew up as a slave until he joined the Union army during the Civil War to fight for freedom. He still carries the physical and emotional scars from his battles that continue to haunt him throughout much of the book. As a free man, Jeb just wants to live a peaceful, quiet life with his family in Louisiana, and he has managed to do so until Crispus’ life becomes jeopardized by the Ku Klux Klan. Crispus has a reputation for getting himself in trouble with the law, but this time Crispus’ situation is dire because he has stolen an ancient artifact from Verdiss, the Grand Dragon of the Klan, to thwart the leader’s malevolent plans to create a “pure” race.
Jeb and Crispus flee their home to find an Egyptian relic, a Pharaoh’s staff that is supposedly imbued with magic giving the one who has possession of it the power of domination over all others. Hot on their trail is the Ku Klux Klan, a violent and cruel group of men who bring a reign of terror upon all the citizens of Jeb’s hometown in their search for the two fugitives. Fueled by rage and prejudice, their brutalization of innocent black and whites is hard to witness.
The Klan’s leader, Verdiss, relies upon occult practices in his quest for power and has formed a tenuous alliance with a mysterious dictator from the future also seeking the staff. Allusions to Hitler and his Nazi regime are obvious based on the sketchy description readers are given about this power-hungry futuristic leader who has the ability to create time travel to accomplish his mission.
The author effectively integrates American historical detail into this fantastical story of good versus evil. Dark magic and voodoo practices are an integral part of the plot, but the macabre descriptions may make readers uncomfortable. Reading about some of these gruesome rituals was difficult for me at times.
The story is filled with danger and suspenseful scenes that kept me engaged throughout the book, and I really enjoyed seeing the overall change in the main characters by the story’s end. The novel involves numerous characters, and their perspectives are often included to lend depth to the story. However, sometimes it was hard for me to keep track of all of these characters and remember their connections to one another and personal motivations.
Overall, I enjoyed reading the book and can’t help but wonder, based upon the conclusion, whether a sequel may be planned. If you are looking for a book that breaks genre stereotypes and has a creative plot, consider checking out The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff.
I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review.
One moment, mayhem wracked the market, the next it fell silent. Fallon stopped, so Jeb did. He couldn’t move, the herd seemed to stop stampeding. Footfalls echoed in the street. The crowd spread. Then came the heavy clacks of soldier’s boots on the flagstones. A band of men, too many to tell. But Jeb knew them by the procession’s cadence–Confederate soldiers. Men clad in gray uniforms marching through Baton Rouge. No doubt, they’d be Klansmen too. Shouts of jubilation spread like wildfire among the townspeople.
“Kill them carpetbaggers!” came a woman’s elegant voice.
“Long live the general!”
“The South shall rise again!” shouted a boy.
Jeb felt the panic in Fallon’s hand, his heartbeat racing as he pulled him away. “What general? I know that cadence like I know my field.” Jeb focused on dodging whatever lay in his way, stumbling over garbage and bumping into people.
Fallon stammered over his words, “Not–not–nothing. Nathan Bedford Forrest?” He gasped, tightening his grip on Jeb.
Somehow Jeb overcame his instincts, keeping his head bowed. Not daring to look up in fear that monster of a man would see him. Though blind, Jeb saw Forrest clad in the gray Confederate officer’s uniform, adorned with medals. He’d seen photos of him. Tall, in his fifties, a receding hairline and a curly mane of black hair. A well-kept goatee tinged gray like his uniform.
I can end it all. Fight through the crowd. A single shot to the head. To hell with being blind, I can do it. For a moment Jeb meant it, caressing his pistol. It’d be easy. Instead, he listened to the Ku Klux Klan founder, savior of the white race, and ender of Reconstruction, parade along the street. Celebrated by a throng of who knew how many people. They were closer now, close enough for Jeb to count them. Four guards following him. Plus Forrest, that’s five. Six shot pistol. Just enough for one miss. He gripped his pistol. It didn’t matter that the crowd loved Forrest, even cheered him on. Six rounds is enough. Jeb edged his pistol free from its holster.
Lane earned a BA in Liberal Arts with a focus on literature and history. He also holds a double minor in psychology and business. He is a literary assistant with The Seymour Agency, and also has several short stories. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Historical Novel Society, and International Thriller Writers.
Twitter: @LaneHeymont ( https://twitter.com/LaneHeymont )
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