The Furies (novel)

The Furies (novel)

The Furies is a historical novel written by John Jakes and originally published in 1976. It is book four in a series known as the Kent Family Chronicles or the American Bicentennial Series. The novel mixes fictional characters with actual historical events or people, to tell the story of the United States of America from 1836 to 1852.

Plot summary

The story begins in March 1836, during the Battle of the Alamo, twenty-two years after the event depicted at the end of The Seekers, book three of the series. Amanda Kent, the daughter of Gilbert Kent and Harriet Lebow, was among the women and children who were not killed in the ensuring massacre.

After the massacre she was taken before Santa Anna, who led the Mexican forces against the Texans, and he was willing to grant her clemency. But she did not accept, tempting her own execution. Her life was saved by Luis Cordoba, one of Santa Anna’s lieutenants, who did not fully support Santa Anna’s policies. Cordoba put Amanda to work as his servant and eventually he fell in love with her. She marched with the Mexican army until April 21 when she witnessed the Battle of San Jacinto. Cordoba was killed in the battle. Amanda gave birth to his posthumous son in January 1837, and named him Louis in his honor.

After the Texas rebellion, Amanda left Texas and settled in San Francisco, California, which at the time was called Yerba Buena. There she founded a small, but profitable tavern. She fell in love with Barton McGill, a sea captain, who made regular trips from California to New York, and through him she discovered that a publishing firm called Kent and Son still operated. The firm was once owned by her father, but lost in a game of craps to Hamilton Stovell. McGill told her that Stovell still owned it and from that moment on, Amanda became obsessed with buying it back from him. The California Gold Rush provided her the means to do that.

When the Gold Rush began, Amanda expanded her tavern into a bed and breakfast and because so many came seeking gold, the establishment made her quite a lot of money. Jared Kent, Amanda’s cousin (their fathers were brothers), was one such man who came to California in search of gold. With two partners he found a profitable gold claim. Amanda had not seen her cousin in thirty-four years, but they were reunited for only a brief time. Men who were opposed to American immigrants attempted to kill her because she employed foreigners to work in her establishment. They missed Amanda and killed Jared instead.

Amanda replaced Jared as the third partner to his gold claim and with that financial backing she returned to Boston to reclaim the Kent and Son publishing firm. Besides the gold claim, she was making money on an investment her father made in a textile company before he died. This investment made her a millionaire and with this money she attempted to buy Kent and Son directly. Amanda used her married name, de la Gura, because of Stovell’s rivalry with the Kent family, but when she made it known she wanted to publish more liberal leaning literature Stovell rescinded the offer. This did not deter her from her goal. She proceeded to buy stocks in Kent and Son in an attempt to become the majority shareholder.

Jared had had one son, Jephtha. He would have like his son to stay with him in the west, but Jephtha moved to Lexington, Virginia and became a Methodist minister. Though he lived in a southern state, Jephtha became morally opposed to slavery and he became a conductor on the Underground Railroad. He mailed a female slave of his father-in-law’s in a wooden box to Amanda in New York, where she was now living, and she inadvertently also became a conductor. While she was opposed to the Fugitive Slave Act, she had previously believed it should be obeyed simply because it was the law of the land, but now she broke it. When Jephtha’s father-in-law came to Amanda’s house in search of his slave, Amanda kept her hidden. Then, after he left, she sneaked the runaway out of her house disguised as another woman, who was visiting Amanda.

This event was published in the newspapers and it revealed Amanda as Jephtha’s cousin. When Stovell read the article he blocked Amanda from ever gaining a majority of the stocks in Kent and Son. Then he paid her a personal visit and threatened to ruin her life and the life of her son. During their conversation, an Irish gang, hired by Jephtha’s father-in-law began to vandalize Amanda’s home. As Stovell fled he knocked Louis unconscious with his cane. Thinking her son was dead, she shot Stovell. Then one of the gang members shot Amanda. She did not died right away, but the wound proved to be fatal. She lived long enough to discover that Stovell’s heirs were willing to sell Kent and Son to the Kent Family.

Historic figures the fictional Amanda Kent interacts with throughout the novel:

* Jim Bowie
* Davy Crockett
* Susanna Dickinson
* Angelina Dickinson
* Ramon Musquiz
* Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna
* Sam Houston
* Samuel Brannan
* William T. Sherman
* Frederick Douglas
* Horace Greeley

Books and Chapters

Book One: Turn Loose Your Wolf

Chapter I: The Chapel

Chapter II: The Massacre

Chapter III: The Bargain

Chapter IV: The Camp Follower

Chapter V: The Corn of the San Jacinto

The Journal of Jephtha Kent, 1844: Bishop Andrew’s Sin

Book Two: Gold

Chapter I: Cry in the Wilderness

Chapter II: The Fever

Chapter III: Christmas Among the Argonauts

Chapter IV: To See The Elephant

Chapter V: The Man Who Got in the Way

Chapter VI: The Parting

The Journal of Japhtha Kent, 1850: A Higher Law

Book Three: Perish With the Sword

Chapter I: The Legacy

Chapter II: Of Books and Bloomers

Chapter III: The Man Who Thundered

Chapter IV: Suspicion

Chapter V: The Girl Who Refused

Chapter VI: Of Stock and Sin

Chapter VII: The Box

Chapter VIII: The Slave-Hunter

Chapter IX: Besieged

Chapter X: Destruction

Chapter XI: Judgment

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