While the Ministry of Trackers may conduct dozens of historical investigations, it is just one of Britain’s four Elder Ministries—secret organizations that have served the Crown for centuries. While on the hunt, Jack Buckles and Gwen Kincaid cross paths with the dragos of the Ministry of Dragons, the spooks of the Ministry of Secrets, and the toppers of the Ministry of Guilds, opening up a hidden world of intersecting characters and organizations.
The Ministry of Dragons has served the Crown since the days of Arthur, making it the eldest of the Elder Ministries. The burns that Jack sees on the faces and hands of the dragos give him a sense that dragons are waiting just around the corner in a disused Tube station or an abandoned utility tunnel. The agents in the red scarves are descended from the oldest families in Britain. They are aristocrats, well above the commoners—or crumbs—of the Ministry of Trackers, and they are not afraid to show it. They do, however, keep the menace of dragons in check, and at least one of them appears to have lent aid to Jack’s family.
The Ministry of Guilds walks the line between shadow and light, which is generally where the money lies. They maintain Guildhall—never the Guildhall—and the Great Twelve City Liveries, while regulating the darker, hidden guilds, like the Magicians Guild and the Thieves Guild. In particular, the mechanical masters of the Tinkers Guild wish to be left to their own devices. The toppers don’t care much for the crumbs of the Ministry of Trackers, whose investigations tend to get in the way of profits, but if Jack ever wants to follow the money, or infiltrate the Thieves Guild hideout on the subterranean banks of the River Fleet, he’ll have no choice but to enlist their help.
Those outside the Ministry of Secrets know little of the organization. Their library in the Elder Ministry Archive remains separated from the rest by midnight blue marble walls with no hint of an actual door, and their public front at MI-6 is not really public at all. Spooks cannot be trusted. As Gwen observes, they are cheaters, even subverting the Rule of Silence in the Ministry Express stations by communicating with their own form of sign and touch language. Like the dragos, the aristocratic spooks look down their noses at the crumbs.
Jack’s own Ministry of Trackers—the Ministry of Crumbs according to the rest—surrounds four tracker families who all have apartments at the bottom of the Keep, a huge Gothic tower that descends deep beneath Baker Street. Like any good British bureaucracy, the ministry has a host of rules and regulations, religiously followed by its clerks, wardens, quartermasters, and trackers—particularly the clerks and wardens. These regs include Section Thirteen. That number has been dangerous ever since the order to slaughter the Templars was given on a Friday the 13th in 1307. For safety, rather than for superstitious reasons, it must be avoided. To employ a tracker of the thirteenth generation seems a dodgy prospect—quite dodgy indeed
Mystery, magic, and high adventure surround this hidden realm beneath London’s busy streets. Jack’s troubles with the Ministry of Trackers and the unsolved mysteries within the real story of the Great Fire of London are only the beginning, a mere introduction to the world of the Elder Ministries.