The Mythological Past
It is God who suffered them, though He restrained them
they landed with horror, with lofty deed,
in their cloud of mighty combat of specters,
upon a mountain of Conmaicne of Connacht.
Without distinction to discerning Ireland,
Without ships, a ruthless course
the truth was not known beneath the sky of stars,
whether they were of heaven or of earth.
–Lebor Gabála Erenn (The Invasions of Ireland, circa 1200)
In many ways, the characters of the Forgotten Gods series have spent their lives in a world much like ours. Their history, between 800CE and 1745CE, unfolds almost precisely as recounted in the world we know. However, unbeknownst to most of the human inhabitants of the British Isles, their history is not as prosaic as they believe: the stories of supernatural creatures settling the islands, and finally being conquered by humans, are true.
Three thousand years before the book begins, Celtic people arrived in Ireland to find it inhabited by a race of faeries who called themselves the Tuatha Dé Dannan, along with a host of other magical beings. Their vulnerability to iron weapons was their undoing, and the human invaders forced them into a treaty in which the Tuatha were pushed out of the human world and into a magical kingdom beneath the earth. When the series starts, most people have ceased to believe this account of history is anything more than an entertaining myth.
Dispute Over the Crown
In 1688, James II of England and Ireland (also James VII of Scotland), a Catholic who vigorously supported equal rights for religious minorities, was quietly ousted in favor of Protestant William of Orange. The Scots and Irish were not pleased with this development, which threatened economic and religious liberty in their countries, and responded with widespread unrest, which was unsuccessful in restoring James II/VII to the throne. But James’ supporters– the Jacobites– were not ready to accept defeat, and set up a government in exile in Italy. When James II/VII died in 1701, his son James III/VIII took up the title of monarch in exile.
The Treaty of Union
In 1707, the Treaty of Union joined the previously independent nations of Scotland and England into a single country. This did not go over well in Scotland, which got the raw end of the deal, losing their own Parliament, and any control over their own affairs, as well as gaining a set of unwanted laws and taxes. The signing of the treaty– which occurred under a great deal of economic duress– sparked widespread rioting in Scotland.
The 1745 Jacobite Uprising
Deanaibh cruadal le misneach
‘S ann a nis tha an t-am ann
O’n a thàing an solus
Thogas onoir na h-Alba
Fhir a sgaoil a’Mhuir Ruadh
‘S a thug do shluagh troimpe sàbhailt
Bi mar gheard air a’Phrionnsa
Air a chùrt, ‘s a phartidh
–Nighean Mhic Aonghais, 1745
“It is indeed a dreadful and amazing consideration to reflect…that a fabric of so much art and cost…should be in danger of being overwhelmed by the bursting of a cloud, which seemed, at its first gathering,no bigger than a man’s hand.”
–Charles Yorke, 1745
When Forgotten Gods opens in 1745, the newly formed Britain is in turmoil. After two failed attempts by his father, James III/VIII, Charles Edward Stuart (better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie) organised another attempt to reclaim the British throne. Support was tentative in England, as many members of the nobility hesitated to disrupt the status quo, even though popular opinion was evenly split. In Scotland, support for the Jacobites was mainstream, although there was also substantial support for the status quo. This is where the novel begins.