I would like to introduce you to the central figures of the Chronicles before we go any further in exploring the stories. The first is, of course, Jack Mallory, or John, as his parents used to call him.
The first novel of the series is entitled The Prodigal, and it opens upon a scene in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, with Jack and his family aboard a merchantman bound for the colonies of America in the late 1600’s. We meet Jack as a boy of thirteen, full of excitement in both the journey and the destination, happy to leave behind his London home where his father had been a tanner. As an only child, he is devoted to his parents and innocent of the world’s darker side. What occurs aboard that merchantman, however, changes him and his life forever.
When next we see Jack, he is a grown man, and his outlook on life has changed dramatically from his wide-eyed youth. For a physical description of our main character, I give you Maria Cordero’s view of Jack from Chapter 3 of The Prodigal:
A lean young man, maybe twenty years old, paused in the doorway as if to let his eyes adjust to the murkiness. He was strikingly attractive even at this distance—beneath his hat dark brown hair spread forward like a concealing, threadbare veil over dark eyes, seemingly positioned to disguise something. His skin—smooth and tan—stretched across high cheekbones so pronounced that his cheeks hollowed slightly. Sparse mustache and ragged growth of beard belied his youth, his jaw as defined as his cheekbones. His clothes, though not stylish, were relatively clean and whole compared to the other patrons but certainly not tailored to his slim build. Indeed he seemed refined enough in bone and pretty enough of features to be a girl, Maria thought. If he carried a weapon, it was concealed beneath the folds of an unadorned dark blue coat. He piqued Maria’s interest, not only because of his good looks but because she had never seen him before.
This encounter takes place after Jack has been released from Newgate Prison in London, having been accused and found guilty of a crime he did not commit. His experiences in prison have all but destroyed the innocence of his boyhood and changed him into a distrustful, haunted man.