Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Spotlight - Captain Shelby by Jesse Giles Christiansen


Captain Shelby
by Jesse Giles Christiansen
Publisher: Imajin Books
Pages: 211
Genre: Literary Fiction/Magical Realism
Format: Kindle
Purchase at:   Amazon


There are places even the sea cannot go… 

In coastal Denmark, a young man named Nereus builds a longship and leaves at age eighteen to discover a new, enigmatic land. Faced with unimaginable obstacles, he crosses the North Atlantic, only to be captured by the Skraelings, the Inuit indigenous people who seek revenge on all settlers because of a "Great Red Man" who murdered many of their family members.  

A few years later, Nereus is hired by a group of Irish settlers who are fleeing the tyranny of King Henry VIII, and he takes them across the North Atlantic to the New Found Land. A fierce battle ensues against the sea, the Little Ice Age, and the vicious Skraelings.  

When Nereus falls in love with Laura Hodges, fiancée to the group’s leader, William Brockelby, he becomes embroiled in a dangerous love triangle…until the formidable mystery surrounding Captain Nereus H. Shelby is finally revealed.

Book Excerpt:

I am master of snow. I am master of fire. I am master of the hunt. They call me Kaya, a name given once to wolves and now given to snow dogs. It means “stay and don’t go back.” 

But there are times when even the snow dogs turn back. My brothers and sisters and I were brought death by the blue-eyed, silver-haired ones, but we did not go back. We felt the breath of the Little Ice Age, but we did not go back. We are more powerful than the snow dog. We walked over many frozen centuries and did not stumble. We are more powerful than the Great Red Man’s temper. We are more powerful than the biting winter. In the past, we drank her blood to quench our thirst and to cure our hunger, and used her flesh to build our homes. 

They called us monsters when we attacked because we are strong and brave. They called us Little Devils when we ate their flesh to become one with our enemies, and to survive even when the great caribou froze where they stood. We are the natives of these lands. 

We don’t know if monsters exist. Only the white strangers know that. But if they do exist, my brothers and sisters saw them walk on our shores once. They floated here on great wooden turtles and moved themselves with giant sticks. We were afraid, but I told my brothers that they are the blood of Kaya, and the blood of Kaya never turn back. We prayed to Agloolik, the god of the sea, who lives under the ice and helps us in the hunt of the great whale, to put a curse on them. But Agloolik did not help us, and we wondered if he was afraid, too, of the blue-eyed, silver-haired ones who appeared from the other side of the world. 

They carried long, shiny spears that looked like yellow fingers stolen from the sun and wore heavy helmets with horns like the gods of the mighty buffalo. They walked heavily and left giant footprints in the sand. They slashed the sea with their flat sticks and trapped the wind, made the ground quake, and still, Agloolik did nothing. 

Their leader stood far above his brothers, and had a giant beard that dropped and twisted in the wind like great red feathers dancing under a peace pipe. His eyes were not like the others. They were green, like emeralds stolen from Agloolik’s treasure deep below the ice, and as mean and fierce as the eyes of a crocodile. His hair was at war with his helmet, and when he removed it, it exploded like a great fire. 

We stayed hidden and watched from the darkness of the woods as the visitors murdered many trees and built skeletons with them upon the land and fleshed them with thick mud. My brothers and sisters cried as they killed many caribou and left their skin and bones to rot under the sun. We thought they would be cursed by the land for such wastefulness, and become sick and die.

But that never happened. 

Soon we agreed that I should go and talk with the visitors to try and make peace with them and to understand their ways. I brought two of my bravest brothers with me. We sang a welcoming song together at the edge of their village and waited. The Great Red Man came out to talk to us, his brothers staying close behind. They came with their yellow fingers of the sun, but they did not wear their strange helmets. 

“We come from Norway. We have claimed this land. Who are you?” 

His language was stranger than his red hair and wild green eyes. I could not understand a word he said. 

“We come in peace to understand our strange new brothers,” I said in my native Inuit tongue. 

The Great Red Man’s eyes became greener and wilder, and he shook his head. 

“We must find a common language so we can better share the sacred land,” I said, pointing at the ground and widening my eyes, which flashed white in the afternoon sun. 

The Great Red Man pointed at the ground now too, then to himself, over and over again. His face became a boiling red stew of anger. I looked at him, confused, then turned to my brothers. They raised their arms in confusion, too.

The Great Red Man raised his yellow finger of the sun and waved it around, holding it high. His brothers did the same. When they came toward us, they were very many now, and we retreated and hid in the trees. 

The night fell quickly upon us, so we made camp inside a cave on the way back to our village. My brothers spoke around the fire of the strangers and their strange ways and their great fear of them. I told them they are brothers of Kaya and that they should fear nothing. But we all slept restlessly that night.

Halfway between the sun’s lowest and highest place in the sky, we arrived at our village and fell to our knees, weeping and bunching our fists. Our homes were destroyed and flattened. Our brothers and sisters and our children lay all about with red holes of anger in them, some of them missing their heads. 

When we finished weeping, my brothers asked me, “What will we do?” 

“Soon more of their boats will come,” I said. “We will gather our brothers from the south and be ready for them. May Agloolik be with us.” 

About the Author:

Jesse Giles Christiansen is an American author who writes compelling literary fiction that weaves the real with the surreal. He attended Florida State University where he received his B.A. in English literature, and holds an M.A. in philosophy from Georgia State University. He is the author of Pelican Bay (book one in the Captain Shelby Series), an Amazon #1 list bestseller, outselling Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway. One of Christiansen's literary goals is to write at least fifty novels, and he always reminds himself of something that Ray Bradbury once said: "You fail only if you stop writing."  
His latest book is the literary fiction/magical realism novel, Captain Shelby. 
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