The Eagle and The Viper - Tor/Forge Blog



Forge’s April eBook Deals!

April showers make eBook deals flower! Spring has finally sprung, and with it blossomed some wonderful Forge eBook deals! Read below to check out what we have on sale during this upcoming month.

The Murder of Andrew Johnson by Burt Solomon

The Murder of Andrew Johnson

On sale for $2.99!

The Eagle and the Viper by Loren D. Estleman

The Eagle and the Viper

It’s Christmas Eve, 1800, and the world wants Napoleon Bonaparte dead. Part high-octane suspense, part dire warning, The Eagle and the Viper from multiple-winning novelist Loren D. Estleman reveals how close our world came—at the dawn of a promising new century—to total war.

On sale for $2.99!


Historical Fiction Novels We’re Excited About This Season

From stories of forgotten queens to mysteries set during World War II, Forge has a historical fiction novel for every reader coming out this season. If you’ve been thinking of picking up a page-turning novel set in the past, read our team’s recommendations below!

Image Place holder  of - 50The Widow Queen by Elzbieta Cherezinska

First published in Polish, and now to be released in English, Elzbieta Cherezinska’s historical novel The Widow Queen follows the epic life of a real Polish queen that history forgot. Swietoslawa is one of three daughters to the great duke of Poland, who has his eyes set on creating advantageous matches for the sisters. But Swietoslawa, who’s nickname is The Bold One (as she is too bold for most) wants no part in her father’s plans, wants to be queen and rule alone – with no king attached. The Widow Queen comes out on April 6th.

Lizzy Hosty, Marketing Intern

Poster Placeholder of - 59The Eagle & The Viper by Loren D. Estleman

Is there anything Loren D. Estleman can’t write? Renowned for both his mystery books and his western books, in The Eagle and the Viper, he takes on a Christmas Eve plot to kill Napoleon in 1800. It has all the page-turning suspense you would expect from this master writer as well as a thrilling new take on a moment in history that would have repercussions for years to come.

Jennifer, Senior Marketing Manager

Place holder  of - 49The Paradise Affair by Bill Pronzini

For those of you who love a good historical mystery series, look no further! Bill Pronzini’s Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery series follows detective partners Sabrina Carpenter and John Quincannon as they solve a variety of “whodunit” mysteries. The books are all set around the late 19th century and typically take place in San Francisco. The ninth and newest book in the series is The Paradise Affair, and it follows our two detectives as they chase down two con men who have fled to Hawaii. Each of the books in the series can be read as a standalone, so you can go ahead and dive into The Paradise Affair and take a trip to Hawaii with Carpenter and Quincannon now! If you’re a fan of the Netflix show Peaky Blinders, then this series is definitely for you.

Sarah, Digital Marketing Coordinator

Placeholder of  -68Comes the War by Ed Ruggero

If you’re looking for a gripping book set against the heroism and heartbreak of WWII, then look no further than former Army officer Ed Ruggero’s Comes the War. The main character, Lieutenant Eddie Harkins, is assigned to investigate the murder of Helen Batcheller, an OSS analyst. Harkins is paired with a British driver, Private Pamela Lowell, to aid in the investigation. Soon ​after, ​a suspect is quickly arrested and Harkins is ​told to stop his search for answers. ​Yet the swift arrest causes him to become ​suspicious,​ so, against orders,​ he ​decides to ​​press on with ​the investigation​. ​​But the deeper he digs, the further he gets himself entangled ​​in a web of deadly Soviet secrets. As bombs ​drop and war rages on, ​​​​Harkins must ​rush to ​solve the murder and ​expose the spies​…​all before it​’s ​too late. Comes the War brilliantly captures the timeless stories of ordinary people swept up in extraordinary circumstances and it’s a perfect read for all historical fiction lovers!​

Ariana, Marketing Coordinator

Image Placeholder of - 82Finn Mac Cool by Morgan Llywelyn

In college, we read Flann O’Brien’s masterpiece, At Swim Two Birds, which heavily features the Irish folk hero, Finn Mac Cool. Even though I’m Irish American, I had never heard of him, but my interest was piqued. So, I was delighted when Forge reissued Morgan Llywelyn’s novel, Finn Mac Cool. Historians aren’t sure how much of Mac Cool is real, and how much is legend, but Llywelyn is an expert at both Irish history and mythology, so she handles walking the line between both worlds beautifully.

Julia, Associate Marketing Manager


Excerpt: The Eagle and the Viper by Loren D. Estleman




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Part high-octane suspense, part dire warning, The Eagle and the Viper from multiple-winning novelist Loren D. Estleman reveals how close our world came—at the dawn of a promising new century—to total war.

It’s a time of improvised explosive devices, terrorist training camps, international assassins, and war on civilians. It’s Christmas Eve, 1800.

This much is history: On Christmas Eve, 1800, an “infernal machine” exploded in one of the busiest streets in Paris, France, destroying buildings and killing innocent civilians. It wasn’t the first attempt on the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the newly minted Republic of France.

This much is exclusive to our story: Upon the failure of the Christmas Eve plot, the conspiracy takes a new and more diabolical turn.

Posterity knows what became of Napoleon: He led France into a series of military adventures that ended in his defeat, followed by decades of peace. But this future hung on a precarious thread. One man can make history; another can change it.

The Eagle and the Viper will be available on March 2, 2021. Please enjoy the following excerpt!


“This is no work for a soldier,” said Saint-Réjant. “I joined the army to get out of farming.”

“Did you gripe this much in the army?” Carbon asked. “Only until they made me a general.”

“You’d enjoy the work better if you’d served aboard ship. Once you’ve survived battle with the enemy, the sea offers you a second chance to die.”

“It wouldn’t make me any more wet.”

The rain had begun at dusk and settled into a monotonous drizzle, icy and glutinous. It dripped off their slouch brims, their noses too, and the ropy mud of the boulevard clung to their boots and made them heavy as sledges. It turned a level stretch into an uphill climb.

The date was 24 December, 1800 (4 Nivose, Year VIII by the Revolutionary calendar). Traffic was heavy, despite the weather. France had cut the heads off priests and abolished religion, but after a dozen years of austerity, Parisians insisted on celebrating Christmas Eve. Twice now, Carbon had almost been run down by carriages bearing drunken revelers toward the Rue Saint-Nicaise. After the second near miss he’d cajoled Saint-Réjant and Limoëlan to step down from the cart and help him lead the lame, wind-broken mare.

Carbon, a naval veteran, and one admittedly inclined toward recklessness for the sheer thrill of it, nevertheless considered his companions bad risks. Saint-Réjant, most recently a common bandit, had found that occupation more to his liking than his late service to the King, at the expense of his commitment to the Cause, and Limoëlan’s lust for vengeance was the very thing that had led the despised regicides to ruination. If this plan had a flaw, it was his partners.

“Shit!” Limoëlan stepped in a hole, turning his ankle and slamming him shoulder-first against the cart. It lurched. Something heavy shifted under the sodden pile of hay.

Carbon snatched his arm. “Watch your step, ass! You want to blow us all to ashes?”

A week earlier, on 17 Frimaire (December 17 to the rest of Europe), a grain dealer named Lambel had admitted to his shop in the Rue Meslée a thickset man with a blond beard and a large scar above his left eye. He walked with a rolling gait that spoke of years at sea. The man paused, breathing in the sweet smell of oats and wheat preserved in barrels; an odor the merchant himself no longer noticed. “Will you hear a proposition?”

“That would depend on the proposition,” said Lambel.

“I sell textiles. I recently came into possession of a shipment of brown sugar, which I hope to barter for bolts of cloth in Brittany.” “You’ll have no problem selling that lot in Paris. The women in the Tuileries would scratch out each other’s eyes for three yards of muslin. For silk they would do murder. I don’t exaggerate.”

“At the moment I have no way of transporting either the sugar or the cloth. I understand you have a horse and cart for sale.”

“I have for a fact.”

“Will you take two hundred francs?” “I would.”

Lambel was under no illusion that the man was trading in either cloth or sugar: He had been too quick to offer the money without inspecting the horse and cart. More likely his cargo was English Port, or some other product outlawed by government embargo. But the times were too uncertain to quibble over a fellow’s motives, and Marguerite, the mare, was very old and had a cataract. He helped the man with the scar hitch her up and watched him lead her out of the barn behind his place of business.

The man with the scar stopped at a wine shop, where he bought a spare Macon cask large enough to contain sixty gallons. Once again the customer explained that he intended to transport sugar. The proprietor helped him load the cask aboard the cart. From there he went to a shed he’d rented in the Rue Paradis near Saint-Lazare. He drew the doors shut, but they were joined poorly, and neighbors had a largely unobstructed view of what went on inside. One did not trespass, of course. Was a curious fellow resident no better than a voyeur? But there were few enough entertainments at the best of times, and most of them taxed by the Republic; a free show was not a subject for question.

The spectacle taking place across the narrow street was not without curiosity. When two more men appeared and set to work reinforcing the cask with ten stout iron bands, conversing in whispers all the while, it was assumed they were brandy smugglers, hardly an unusual sight  that time of year, when a dram was just   the thing to drive the cold from one’s bones, even at black market prices.

The neighbors paid them little attention after that. The mystery was explained, and as for reporting the activity, there was no telling what miseries may follow any kind of contact with the authorities, however civic-minded. Madame Guillotine seldom distinguished between accuser and accused.

François Carbon was neither a cloth merchant nor a brandy smuggler, but a Brittany-born sailor who came by his fearsome scar when a line broke loose during a storm in the Channel and the frayed end struck him above the eye, gouging out flesh like a  piece  of  grapeshot.  He  had  no  sugar  in  his  possession.  He’d trained in the proper use of firearms and explosives under Georges Cadoudal, a French Royalist who operated a camp for insurgent expatriates in England, on the estate of a British peer in sympathy with the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy in France. (Where, after all, might it end? George III in exile or executed, and the American parvenu Thomas Jefferson in charge of the Empire? As well a bishop!) Although still in his thirties, Carbon had seen the government of his adopted country change hands three times.

He was determined to make it four.

The two men seen working with him on the cask were Pierre Robinault de Saint-Réjant and a master cooper named Jardin, who’d been recruited to forge and fashion the iron bands. Jardin thought the cask stout enough for its purpose, the storage of wine; but a job was a job, and the man with the scar paid up front and in cash, not in promises or poultry. Saint-Réjant wore his civilian attire with the air of a uniform, snug and tidy and with nothing dangling loose, his handkerchief tucked inside his sleeve. He’d  served  as  a  divisional  general  under  Cadoudal, and knew little of casks and cart horses.

A fourth man who visited the shed from time to time was later identified as Joseph Pierre de Limoëlan, an aristocrat who’d seen his father borne, fettered and beaten, past jeering crowds to the Place de la Revolution to have his head taken from his shoulders. Cadoudal, a conservative commander not given toward impulsive promotions, had made Limoëlan a major general after he returned from patrol swinging the head of a Jacobin leader by the hair. Individual initiative must be rewarded.

When the cooper left, Limoëlan stood watch at the  door while Carbon and Saint-Réjant drew the sacking off two kegs and poured black powder into the cask, then scooped broken and jagged pieces of stone from a barrow and mixed them with the powder; “to slash flesh and pulverize bone,” explained Limoëlan, who’d suggested the refinement, “and make as many good revolutionaries as possible.”

On Christmas Eve, a street musician strummed a mandolin and sang the refrain of a Catholic hymn outlawed in 1789. He frowned at the small collection of coins in his upturned hat, slung it onto his head without spilling them, a gesture perfected through repetition, and trudged off through the drizzle. Behind him, his corner on the Place du Carrousel glimmered in the light of torches struggling against the rain in front of the Tuileries Palace. Through those same gates, eight years before, King Louis XVI’s own gunners had escorted their sovereign to his place of imprisonment, and from there to his execution.

The musician passed three men loitering beside a shabby cart piled with hay, two of them knocking their heels against the wooden wheels to dislodge mud from the soles, a third squatting to feel the fetlocks of a bay mare that didn’t look as if it would last to the end of the street.

“Poor buggers,” he muttered to himself. All he had to look after was his mandolin.

A patrol of National Guardsmen came along a few minutes later in their blue uniforms and shining oilcloth cloaks, observing the trio still engaged in the same activity. The heightened presence of the sentries suggested that the man in the Tuileries—no king, this, Limoëlan thought; merely a contemptible clerk appointed to govern his betters—was preparing to venture out. The plotters’ intelligence was sound.

The patrol slowed as it approached. Seized with a wicked whim, Carbon gestured with his short-barreled pipe; what the English called a bulldog.

“Have you a light?”

The guardsman hesitated, shook his head, and continued walking with his companions.

“Was that necessary?” Limoëlan was the bloodthirstiest of the three and therefore the most cautious.

“I judged it so. In another moment he’d have been searching the cart. This way he knows we have nothing to hide.”

“What if he’d given you the light and searched it anyway?” “Have you ever tried to get a spark out of flint and steel on a night like this?”

“You mistake audacity for valor. It will mean your death.” “Sound advice from a highwayman.”

Limoëlan did not respond. If this plan had a flaw, the rash sailor was it; but Carbon was in command and so he swallowed his retort. He and Saint-Réjant had spent many such a dismal night waiting to waylay coaches on the stage roads along the coast—an unbecoming pursuit for generals; but even the great causes needed financing, same as mummery shows and ladies’ wardrobes.

For Saint-Réjant, his alliance with Carbon, a sailor-adventurer unhinged from reason by a blow at sea, and Limoëlan, a fanatic who would usher in a new Reign of Terror, only with the executioners and the victims reversed in favor of the monarchy, was far from ideal. If this plan had a flaw, it was they.

The clouds were bottomless. Foul drizzle soaked the conspirators to the skin and chilled them to the bone.

Perfect weather, Limoëlan thought, for a funeral of state.

Moving quickly now before another patrol could appear, the men backed the cart into position, not quite blocking the street, but obliging any passing traffic to slow and swerve round it. Carbon and Saint-Réjant tilted the heavy cask while Limoëlan unwound the oilcloth from a twisted length of twine and inserted it in the hole drilled in the top. The fuse was impregnated with gunpowder: the fast-burning variety intended for muskets.

“How much time?” Saint-Réjant helped right the cask.

Carbon’s teeth ground on his pipestem. “Who’s to say? The cocksucker is always early. Ask the Austrians.”

“I meant the fuse.”

“Then say what you mean. Six seconds, give or take.” “Give or take what?” Limoëlan asked.

“Give or take the life of one Corsican more or less.” Saint-Réjant crossed himself, an automatic gesture.

Carbon smiled in the darkness. “Careful, my friend. We are surrounded by atheists.”

Limoëlan did not smile. “In a little while they’ll be surrounding themselves.”

Copyright © 2021 by Loren D. Estleman

Pre-order The Eagle and the Viper—available on March 2, 2021!

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Mysteries & Thrillers We’re Looking Forward to in 2021

When it’s cold outside, is there a better place to be than warm inside and deep in the pages of a thrilling book you can’t put down? From hot debuts to the return of some familiar favorites, Forge has got something for every mystery fan this season.

January 12th

Place holder  of - 80Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton

Julie Carrick Dalton’s searing debut novel is an exploration of female friendships, a love song to the natural world, and a harrowing portrait of what happens when long-buried secrets are unearthed.


January 26th

Placeholder of  -35The Paradise Affair by Bill Pronzini

Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Bill Pronzini’s next Carpenter & Quincannon mystery is here! The Paradise Affair takes a favorite mystery-solving husband and wife team all the way to Honolulu for an unforgettable adventure.


February 9th

Image Place holder  of - 58Comes the War by Ed Ruggero

Ed Ruggero’s blistering follow-up to Blame the Dead follows Lieutenant Eddie Harkins on another murder investigation set against the backdrop of World War 2. This time he’s on the case in Britain and finds himself tied up in a web of Soviet secrets.


February 16th

Poster Placeholder of - 10Margaret Truman’s Murder on the Metro by Jon Land

Jon Land’s first entry in Margaret Truman’s New York Times bestselling Capital Crimes series is a thrill-ride from beginning to end. When Robert Brixton uncovers a terrorist plot with unimaginable consequences, it’s a race against time to save the lives of millions.


March 2nd

Image Placeholder of - 44Blood on the Table by Gerry Spence

New York Times bestselling author and trial attorney Gerry Spence’s newest thriller takes us to backcountry Wyoming where an 11-year-old boy takes the witness stand against a vicious prosecutor, corrupt police, and a prejudiced judge to keep his family safe.


The Eagle & The Viper by Loren D. Estleman

Multiple award-winning novelist Loren Estleman’s newest thriller is set in a world of terrorist training camps, international assassins, civilians in danger… and a threat against Napoleon. It’s Paris in 1800 and Estleman reveals just how close our world came to total war.


March 16th

Gathering Dark by Candice Fox

#1 New York Times bestselling author Candice Fox takes you from the gleaming mansions of Beverly Hills to the gritty streets of Compton in her newest standalone thriller. Four “bad girls” – a convicted killer, a gifted thief, a vicious ganglord and a disillusioned cop are a missing girl’s only hope. 


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