VOYAGE OF REPRISAL
by Kevin Glynn
About the Book
High-castled wooden ships under canvas are blown by trade winds to the New World. Some ships bear Spanish crosses on their sails. These high-sided, rounded merchantmen will return bearing silver, gold and jewels from the mines of Central and South America to fuel the Catholic war machine in Europe. Other ships, leaner and better sailed, stalk them like wolves; galleons under the Cross of St. George - the sea dogs of England. Cannons bellow forth, wooden decks and human flesh are shattered by leaden balls and flying splinters. English corsairs cross over with cold steel to finish off their victims and lay claim to the prizes of war. A Tudor Queen quietly awaits her secret cut of the profits while her ministers keep the Spanish court guessing; ever plotting ways to halt the Spanish juggernaut which threatens to encompass all of Europe.
The year is 1585. Newly Protestant England stands alone against the world-girdling Spanish Empire of a Catholic zealot, King Philip II, who is bent on stamping out the heresy which has taken root in Northern Europe and the British Isles. A veteran Spanish army of occupation stands astride a rebellious, Protestant, Netherlands; like a dagger aimed across the Dover Strait at England. From Spain’s expansive but loosely-held American empire, a hoard of silver is being assembled for transport across the Atlantic to fill Philip’s coffers and finance a mighty Armada to carry his army across to England. Only a defiant woman, Queen Elizabeth Tudor, wielding power like a fox, and her “sea dog” ship-captains aboard formidable English galleons, stand between Philip and his dream of world hegemony.
Robert Lawton is a young but seasoned ship-master recently returned to London from a trading voyage to Spain, where Spanish officials and the dreaded Inquisition attacked his men and stole his cargo. Never keen on leading the life of a corsair, Lawton is nonetheless drawn into a “reprisal venture” lead by an old family friend, the hardened sea dog Richard Hawthorne. Hawthorne has assembled a force of English galleons under a secret Queen’s commission to plunder King Philip’s annual treasure fleet before it links up with the fearsome war galleons of the Spanish Averia and crosses to Spain. Caught up in Hawthorne’s lust for glory, loot and vengeance, Lawton signs aboard Hawthorne’s galleon, the Elanor Rose, as second mate. The fleet sets sail for the Caribbean to wreak havoc on the far-flung settlements and shipping of Philip’s American dominions.
Almost right away, dissension among the fleet’s high officers challenges the cohesion of the fleet and casts doubts on any firm direction for the voyage. Despite moderate success by the fleet against the Spanish on land and sea, Hawthorne’s personal agenda leads his ship and crew on its own path to either glory or ruin; the outcome will be decided by whimsical natural elements, a contentious crew, and the guns of Spanish warships lurking astride their sea lanes.
Voyage of Reprisal draws on the author’s extensive research into the period and presents a careful reconstruction of life at sea aboard an Elizabethan war galleon: her crew forms a microcosm of 16th century society - a time of worldwide ideological struggle and quests for empire; not unlike what we have so recently faced in modern times. Charismatic characters come alive; from crude sailors to arrogant lords, and the pains, joys, sorrows and hopes of the age are explored within the wooden hull of the Elanor Rose.
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©copyright 2000, 2001 by Kevin Glynn. All rights reserved