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Scavengers from the Sea: A Historical Thriller Novel (Legend of the English Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Rob’s intensive research and study of English literature and history serves us well as he presents a tale few others would have approached. Yes, the connection between Britannia and Rome ha been the source of books and films, but not with the degree of sensitivity to character building that Rob achieves. He opens his first volume of what hopefully will be an ongoing series in the year 589 AD in Rome: ‘My head sagged in the drowsy afternoon sun, a trickle of sweat running down my back. A voice called from the riverbank. I looked up and saw my younger brother Godric holding out a small wooden carving as a gift for me. The voice called again, and my dream dissolved. “Not far now!” I opened my bleary eyes. Godric had disappeared. In his place, a young boy about my age stood on the towpath, his team of oxen attached by a thick rope to the prow of our vessel. Felix, the skipper, called out from the stern in his bullhorn voice, “How far?” “Maybe two miles, maybe less.” “Make it less!” The ship rocked slowly beneath our feet. I straightened up, the chains on my wrists rattling across the oar resting on my knees. I gazed at the landscape but saw no signs of life. No ducks paddled on the river, and not a single starling chattered in the trees. No cows, sheep, or goats grazed on the riverbanks. Not even a dog barked. The only sounds coming from the shore were the lowing of oxen and the sharp crack of a herdsman’s whip. A sigh escaped my lips as a vision of my sister Tola drifted before my eyes. More than four months had passed, but I still missed her bitterly and ached all the more for home. Cadmon, sitting near me, guessed what I was feeling and gave a sympathetic pout of his lips. I glanced down at the river as something, drifting just below the surface, bumped against the vessel. I guessed it was a log, but it rolled over, and I stared in horror at a fully clothed body. Its face was down in the water and its arms trailed with palms upturned. In a few moments, the corpse had floated past and disappeared downstream. Attracting attention on Felix’s ship brought trouble, so I sat in silence as a stab of anxiety twisted in my stomach. I glanced nervously upriver. What kind of place was this? Cadmon saw my expression and raised his eyebrows. I drew a finger across my throat and nodded towards the river. On the riverbank, the oxen hauled our ship past an imposing basilica, its white-columned porticoes facing the river. Along the whole winding length of our journey from the port of Ostia, we had seen farm buildings razed to the ground, blackened roof beams poking into a pale blue sky. Only the basilica we were passing remained undamaged. Felix seemed to have seen all this before; he made none of his usual comments as the landscape slowly unfolded.
The plot is well summarized – ‘Scavengers from the Sea is a tale of hope and despair, treachery and heroism, fear and courage, love lost, and love found. Based on a sixth-century English Legend, the thriller follows the fortunes of two Anglo-Saxon boys and a younger sister, seized from their homeland to be sold into slavery. Heartbreakingly, Tola, the girl becomes separated and her brother Alric is haunted by the knowledge that he has failed to protect her. The sight of these two fair-haired Anglo-Saxons, Alric and Cadmon, arriving at a slave market in Rome, ultimately inspires Pope Gregorius to reach out to the Anglo-Saxon people of Cantia. The youngsters enter a world that is ruthless in the search of kingdoms, where Rome is in crisis, Constantinople in moral decline, and Francia torn apart by internecine warfare. Meanwhile, the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Cantia waits at the crossroads.’
At last a new writer of historical fiction who scribes with authority, charm, and dignity while unveiling the past history of England as it might have been. Recommended. Grady Harp, March 18
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