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"M. D. Lachlan is simply the most exciting, visceral, and deeply imaginative writer of fantasy working today. I thought Wolfsangel was a masterpiece, but Fenrir is even better, a superbly conjured historical world, potently readable storytelling, beautiful and savage in equal measure: it is unlike any other novel in print. Be wary, though: his werewolf will prey upon your dreams."
-ADAM ROBERTS, Author of Gradisil and New Model Army
"Fenrir is the eagerly awaited sequel to M. D. Lachlan’s Wolfsangel. . . . Utterly convincing. . .plenty of action, strong characters, and vivid description. The story is sufficiently independent of its predecessor to be read and enjoyed on its own."
Praise for Wolfsangel
"Savage, dark, strange, and unpredictable. Recommended."
-JOE ABERCROMBIE, Author of The First Law trilogy
"A unique take on the werewolf mythos, on the Norse pantheon, and on magic itself. An enthralling, mesmerizing book."
-MIKE CAREY, Author of the Felix Castor series
"Sorcery and savagery fuel this rousing historical fantasy. . . . Vivid in its rendering of the primitive historical past, this entertaining adventure will have readers eagerly anticipating the next book in the series."
"From raids to single combat, the author really puts the reader into the heart of the action; it is close, brutal, and often highly personal. . . . Wolfsangel is a highly recommended historical fantasy. . . . Dark, atmospheric, original. . . . This is a great read."
"Is there an investigation taking place within the state police department?" Thurgood Marshall asked the governor of Maryland. On October 25, 1933, Marshall, only twenty-three years old and fresh out of law school, gathered with ten other black lawyers in the Baltimore office of Governor Albert C. Ritchie, looking for answers. They wanted to know what he was going to do about the brutal lynching of George Armwood in Somerset County.
THE ARMWOOD LYNCHING
A few days earlier, an elderly white woman named Mary Dentson had claimed that she was attacked in Princess Anne, a small town on the southern end of Maryland's Eastern Shore. While the exact injury she suffered remains unknown, a young black man would pay for it with his life.
Dentson reported that George Armwood, considered "feeble minded" by the locals, had jumped out from behind some bushes as she was walking to town. She claimed that he grabbed her, tore her dress, and frightened her. The local prosecutor, state's attorney John B. Robbins, wasted no time. He ordered Armwood's arrest and charged him with felonious assault. Despite such quick action from the prosecutor, many of Somerset County's white residents, impatient with what they perceived as the slow pace of justice, clamored for Armwood's swift punishment.
The desire of some locals to take the law into their own hands should not have come as a surprise to officials in Princess Anne. Two years earlier, a black farmhand named Euel Lee, who also went by the name "Orphan Jones," stood accused of murdering four members of a white family in the charming Eastern Shore town of Berlin. Concerned for his safety, Maryland authorities moved Lee across Chesapeake Bay to the Baltimore City Jail to prevent a lynching. The practice of transporting blacks to Baltimore "for safekeeping" when they were accused of crimes against whites dated back many years. Officials considered Baltimore to be the only place in Maryland where blacks accused of crimes against whites were safe from vigilante violence.
By the time of George Armwood's arrest, the Euel Lee case had dragged on for two years, with multiple trials and appeals. In October 1933, the Euel Lee matter was coming to an end, with Lee awaiting execution in the Baltimore City Jail. However, his defense team, provided by the American Communist Party's International Labor Defense, continued its ultimately unsuccessful efforts to save Lee from the gallows.
Racial tensions on the Eastern Shore had turned violent when Maryland's most recent lynching occurred in December 1931. A black man named Matthew Williams stood accused of fatally shooting his white employer before turning the gun on himself. Six members of a mob dragged the gravely wounded Williams from his hospital bed in Salisbury, fourteen miles north of Princess Anne, and pushed him out a window and into a crowd of three hundred people waiting below. The mob tripled in size as it dragged Williams to the courthouse lawn. Although he was probably already dead, the lynch mob hung Williams from a tree. A member of the crowd then dragged his body behind a truck to a black neighborhood, where the mob doused his body in gasoline and set it on fire. Some Eastern Shore whites claimed that the Williams incident was a reaction to legal maneuvers by communist lawyers who were delaying the execution of Euel Lee for the murder of the Green family.
With such a deadly precedent, local authorities had good reason to be concerned for Armwood's safety in October 1933. However, Somerset County officials appeared oblivious to the looming threat of mob violence. State's Attorney Robbins openly denied that Princess Anne residents would take the law into their own hands. According to the Baltimore Sun, "Mr. Robbins said he anticipated no trouble on the part of the populace. Their chief wish, he said, was to see justice done as soon as possible, and they understood the county authorities were making every effort for a speedy trial." In rural Maryland, the circuit court judge was the most powerful governmental figure in most of the twenty-three counties. Judge Robert F. Duer—a resident of Princess Anne and the judge on the First Circuit Court, whose jurisdiction included Somerset County—agreed, and he predicted that there would be no trouble and that it would be "perfectly safe" to let the accused man remain in the Somerset County Jail.
Governor Albert Ritchie was more realistic. At the urging of Captain Edward Johnson of the Maryland State Police, Ritchie dispatched twenty-four state troopers to provide safe escort for Armwood across Chesapeake Bay to the Baltimore City Jail. The Afro-American prophetically captured the concurrence of events: "With the Euel Lee case still pending and the lynching of Matthew Williams still fresh in the memories of Marylanders, George Armwood, 28 year old laborer, was rushed to Baltimore Monday night to escape a mob of 2,000 bent on lynching him near the same spot where Williams was hanged and burned."
However, Armwood would have a very short stay in Maryland's largest city. Robbins and Duer quickly ordered Armwood's return to Somerset County for arraignment. The newspapers and radio ominously released the itinerary for Armwood's trip back to Princess Anne, making it easy for the gathering mob to track Armwood's return. "Police Squads Escort Negro Back to Shore," read the headline in the Baltimore Sun. As the mob calling for Armwood's death grew, the Sun also listed the timetable of Armwood's return to Princess Anne: "The guard of State police taking George Armwood, Negro, from the Baltimore City Jail passed through Salisbury at 2:37 o'clock this morning. Princess Anne is about fourteen miles from Salisbury and the police expect to have Armwood in jail by 3:30."
That night, Armwood's fate was sealed. The assault began a few hours after Armwood's arrival in Princess Anne. Accounts of the mob's size varied from one thousand to five thousand people. The mob smashed in the jailhouse door with a battering ram and dragged Armwood from his cell. As they carried him into the street, a teenager cut off one of his ears with a butcher knife. The sight of blood drove the crowd wild. Hundreds of frenzied men, women, and children pounced on Armwood. They punched, kicked, and dragged him through the streets before hanging him next door to Judge Duer's house. They then cut his body down from the tree and dragged it through the streets again. They yanked gold fillings from his teeth and cut clothing and flesh from his body. The lynch mob hung Armwood's body again, this time from a telegraph pole. Finally, in an eerie repetition of the Williams lynching, they dumped his body in a lumberyard, poured gasoline on it, and set it on fire. Standing around the burning body, the men and women in the mob joined hands and sang "John Brown's Body" and "Give Me Something to Remember You By." Afterwards, the members of the mob cut the rope used to hang Armwood into small pieces and chopped up the battering ram. The crowd took home the pieces of those grim instruments as souvenirs.
The threat to Armwood was so obvious that two reporters, including rookie reporter Clarence M. Mitchell Jr., and a photographer from the Afro-American newspaper left Baltimore and headed toward Princess Anne as soon as they learned that Armwood was on his way back to Somerset County. Fearful of taking the more direct ferryboat route east across Chesapeake Bay during a period of high racial tensions, the black newspaper crew instead drove north, crossing the Susquehanna River near the Delaware border, and then south down the length of Maryland's Eastern Shore to Princess Anne. They arrived to find Armwood's charred corpse in the lumberyard with part of the noose still around his broken neck.
The Afro-American published its account with the banner headline "BURN" and a gruesome photograph of Armwood's mangled body. The macabre caption read, "George Armwood a la Maryland." Mitchell's article gave an account of how Armwood's body was found in a lumberyard by the Afro-American reporters at 6:30 a.m. "after 2,000 of Maryland's 'best' staged their 'barbecue' in front of the courthouse." Witnesses had told the reporters that members of the local fire department had sounded an alarm and brought out a fire truck to bring out the mob and begin the assault.
THE "OLD LINE STATE"
Maryland—home of Chesapeake Bay, the nation's largest estuary—is known as the "Old Line State" because of its location on the Mason-Dixon Line. During the 1930s, the northern and western regions of Maryland—home to small farms, mills, railroads, and some mining operations—resembled similar regions in many northern states.
Baltimore was the nation's eighth-largest city, with a population of 804,000. An important industrial center, it was also the cultural and educational capital of the state of Maryland. Prior to the Civil War, it had the largest population of free blacks of any city in the United States. Yet in the 1930s, Southern mores still prevailed in Baltimore, and it was a very segregated place.
Three southern Maryland counties—Calvert, Charles, and Saint Mary's—and the entire Eastern Shore mirrored much of the Deep South, physically and socially. Their economies were built around agriculture and seafood, especially crabs and oysters. On the Eastern Shore, vegetable and fruit canneries and seafood-packing houses operated on seasonal schedules. Black Marylanders lacked significant political power outside Baltimore City and were at the bottom of the social and economic ladders. Many blacks lived in genuine fear for their lives at the hands of law enforcement officers and white civilians who were intent on keeping blacks subordinated.
Despite rigid segregation throughout the state, Maryland had been spared the widespread, wanton violence against blacks that had been rife in other parts of the country since the turn of the twentieth century.
RACIAL VIOLENCE IN AMERICA
From 1890 to 1940, nearly five thousand black Americans were lynched in the United States. Before and after the Civil War, groups of vigilantes attacked and murdered blacks in the Deep South. Violence against blacks occurred not just in the South but throughout the United States. Almost always, the perpetrators acted with impunity.
The violence against blacks included several mass killings. In April 1873, following a contested election in Louisiana, almost three hundred blacks lost their lives in what became known as the Colfax Massacre.
In July 1917, whites who were fearful of competition for jobs from black migrants fleeing the Deep South sparked the East Saint Louis Race Riots. Three thousand whites gathered downtown and began to beat and shoot blacks. Rioters torched black homes and businesses. The National Guard was called in to restore order, but many of the troops turned against the blacks and joined in the assaults. When the dust cleared, more than one hundred blacks had been killed and six thousand had been left homeless.
In the summer and early fall of 1919, a series of race riots known as the "Red Summer," a term coined by poet James Weldon Johnson, claimed hundreds of lives. Much of the violence was aimed at black veterans of World War I, some of whom were lynched while still in uniform. In the nation's capital, 6 blacks were killed and 150 injured in racial mob attacks. During five days of rioting in Chicago, 50 blacks were killed and hundreds of mostly black homes and businesses on the city's south side were burned to the ground. In Elaine, Arkansas, an altercation between white farmers and black sharecroppers led to the deaths of 5 whites and between 100 and 200 blacks.
In June 1920, three black circus workers in Duluth, Minnesota, were accused of raping a nineteen-year-old white girl at gunpoint. Although an examination by the girl's personal physician found no signs of rape or assault, a mob of five thousand to ten thousand surrounded the Duluth jailhouse, broke down the door with little resistance from the deputies on duty, dragged the three suspects into the street, and lynched them.
In 1915, acts of antiblack intimidation, violence, and murder such as these were glorified in the racist cinematic epic The Birth of a Nation. Directed by D. W. Griffith, the film was more than three hours long and cost $110,000 to make. The movie broke many budget and box office records of the day. The film portrayed the Ku Klux Klan as saviors of the white race and protectors of white women. Although many leaders condemned the film and some states banned it from movie theaters, President Woodrow Wilson praised the movie after a private White House screening.
Finally, in the spring of 1921, the Tulsa Race Riot was the deadliest of all. The riot began as the result of a never-substantiated rumor about an assault on a white, female elevator operator by a nineteen-year-old, black shoeshine boy. White rioters converged on a thirty-five-block area of North Tulsa known as the "Black Wall Street," which consisted of more than 1,200 residences and hundreds of businesses. By the time the riot was over, the Black Wall Street had been ravaged by fire, leaving more than three hundred people dead and ten thousand people homeless.
Maryland had not completely escaped the surge in racial violence that had taken place around the turn of the twentieth century. Between 1882 and 1930, Maryland ranked twenty-seventh out of the forty-eight states in the number of lynchings that occurred within its borders. Of the approximately 4,300 lynchings that had taken place across the country during that period, 33 had occurred in Maryland, with all but 3 of the victims being black. However, Maryland experienced a welcome lull in the violence for several years. By the time of the Matthew Williams lynching in 1931, the state had gone twenty years without a lynching. Maryland's last victim prior to Williams, a man by the name of King Davis, was hanged by a Baltimore mob on Christmas Day 1911.
The news of the entirely preventable and gruesome lynching of George Armwood sent shockwaves through Maryland's black communities. Black and white citizens and leaders held antilynching rallies, signed petitions, agreed to form new organizations, proposed antilynching legislation, and demanded to meet with Governor Ritchie.
In the wake of the Armwood lynching, new coalitions and new organizations were formed, but most of them did not last for long. At the urging of his high school teacher and debate coach, Gough McDaniels, Marshall participated in the early formation of the American League against War and Fascism; a broad, interracial coalition of intellectuals, peace activists, socialists, communists, labor leaders, and black leaders who were united by their opposition to fascism in Europe and to racial injustice in the United States. Marshall attended the League's first organizing meeting at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The group resolved to perform a national assessment of the strengths of racial, labor, and progressive organizations with the goal of finding common interests among those groups. At a later conference in Washington, DC, Marshall joined the League's Commission on Minorities, which he immediately persuaded to focus on the issue of educational equality. Marshall argued that providing an inferior education to minorities made them less able to resist fascism. Lack of time and money curtailed Marshall's participation in the League, which became more involved in national political issues before dissolving in 1939.
MARSHALL JOINS THE BAR
Thurgood Marshall became a lawyer on October 8, 1933, one week before the Armwood lynching. He faced some sharp realities as he tried to find office space in downtown Baltimore. Most landlords refused to rent offices to black professionals. As a law student living in Baltimore, Marshall had risen at five o'clock in the morning each school day and had walked to the railroad station to catch the train to Howard University in Washington, DC. The reason for the long commute was simple—the University of Maryland School of Law in Baltimore did not admit blacks. But with a law license and office space in downtown Baltimore secured, Marshall was ready to begin his legal career.
Excerpted from Young Thurgood by Larry S. Gibson Copyright © 2012 by Larry S. Gibson. Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted October 5, 2011
The Vikings lay siege to Paris with a threat to burn down the city if their demand is not met. The berserkers have already begun setting fires to homes along the seine. The Norse invaders demand the city elders give to them Lady Aelis, sister to the ambitious Count who wants to be the Emperor. Whereas the Count is caught between sacrificing a sibling he holds dearly and the occupants of Paris with his objective to become the Franks' emperor almost dead, the Vikings believe she is destined to determine whether King Sigfrid is the latest incarnation of Odin.
The Count and the church turn to the blind crippled Saint Jehan of St. Germain to ask God to intervene on their behalf. However, Lady Aelis is not sticking around to become a sacrificial lamb. Instead she flees with Saint Jehan and a mad werewolf who believes he is the incantation of Odin's most dangerous adversary the Fenris Wolf. At the same time sibling priests of Odin have set in motion a lunatic war of the Gods plan.
The sequel to Wolfsangel is a great Dark Ages fantasy that builds the Lachlan mythos from a Nordic mythological base. The cast is solid especially the beleaguered heroine, her two polar opposites protectors and the Odin priests who converge in a powerful twisting story line.
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