The Portolan - Synopsis
Redoubtable - Definition = Formidable, daunting, awe-inspiring. Not words generally associated with the women of the 16th century. Yet there were many notable exceptions, from the Irish pirate queen Grace O'Malley to
Queen Elizabeth I.
These were difficult and dangerous times of transformation and transition. Religious and geopolitical tensions made friends of enemies and visa versa, in the blink of an eye. These were also times of miraculous discoveries and fresh thinking about the nature of the earth and the cosmos. Seldom were women able to ascend to the higher echelons of power and influence, yet there were some, and those women were most certainly redoubtable. These novels describe the fictional adventures of one such woman, and some of the forward thinking men and women she encountered as western Europe struggled toward enlightenment.
In the mid 1500’s, the ‘witch craze’ was beginning to sweep across Europe. Hundreds of trials had already been conducted and hundreds of people executed for witchcraft in Germany, England, and Scotland by the year that the story begins, 1546 AD. Many thousands more victims were to come in the following decades.
Would Ireland succumb to this tragedy? At the time the story begins, Germany has already executed nearly 2,000 people, primarily women, and Scotland’s laws have claimed the lives of 50 victims accused of witchcraft. Ireland is free so far, but there are religious and political forces at work to bring this persecution to Irish shores, even the remote and independent west country. This book describes the fictional account of one exceptional woman’s travels, struggles, loves, and losses as she tries to prevent the catastrophe of witch persecution from ever taking hold in her homeland.
Gale Butler, begins her life journey as the pampered and well-educated daughter of a prosperous Galway merchant. She is a budding cartographer and sea-farer, joined in her early sailing adventures by her best friend, plot protagonist, and future pirate queen Granuaile (Grace/Grainne) O’Malley, of County Mayo.
The story begins with Gale bemoaning the loss of a valued perspective suitor, only to find that she has suddenly become a ‘bartered bride’ to an odious Protestant Frenchman, ostensibly to rescue her Catholic family’s fortunes. Gale, aged 18, decides to make run for it rather than wed, and is assisted in this flight by a druidic arts trained mentor, a mystical horse, and a troubled but skilled, honest, and handsome man at arms employed by the O’Flaherty clan, the family in to which her friend Granuaile will soon marry.
Gale’s trek from her Galway home overland through hostile and unknown territory to secure sanctuary with Granuaile and her family is initially plagued by pursuit from her father’s men. As if this weren’t enough, she receives a mystical message, delivered to her by a woman of the Sidhe (fairy woman) concerning the coming witch-burning holocaust. This magical entreaty will set Gale’s feet on a very different path than she had imagined for her life.
Her fortunes improve with the arrival of Darragh O’Flaherty, who agrees to escort her the rest of the way to Castle Belclare and the O’Malley clan. Adventures ensue, friends and enemies are made, and romantic interests with Darragh evolve.
To Read Chapter 1, Click Here
(Additional excerpts will be changed periodically and commentaries on the historical happenings and important figures of the day will be offered, so check back frequently).
The Portolan is out now!
The first book in this series is $4.99 on Amazon and Kobo.
For Apple users with iPads, download the Kobo app from the Apple Store,
then go to The Portolan page.
For Kindle users, both eBook and Paperback are available.