Authors: Tim Severin
explorer, film-maker and lecturer, has made many expeditions, from his crossing of the Atlantic in a medieval leather boat in
The Brendan Voyage
to, most recently,
In Search of Moby Dick
Seeking Robinson Crusoe.
he has drawn upon his unique experience as captain of a twenty-oared galley following the 1,500-mile route of Jason and the Argonauts. He has won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, the Book of the Sea Award, a Christopher Prize and the literary medal of the Académie de la Marine. He made his historical fiction debut with the hugely successful Viking series.
is his first Hector Lynch novel.
Also by Tim Severin
The Brendan Voyage
The Sindbad Voyage
The Jason Voyage
The Ulysses Voyage
In Search of Genghis Khan
The China Voyage
The Spice Island Voyage
In Search of Moby Dick
Seeking Robinsoe Crusoe
First published 2007 by Macmillan
First published in paperback 2008 by Pan Books
This electronic edition published 2009 by Pan Books
a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited
20 New Wharf Rd, London N1 9RR
Basingstoke and Oxford
Associated companies throughout the world
ISBN 978-0-330-51606-8 in Adobe Reader format
ISBN 978-0-330-51605-1 in Adobe Digital Editions format
ISBN 978-0-330-51607-5 in Mobipocket format
Copyright © Tim Severin 2007
The right of Tim Severin to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
You may not copy, store, distribute, transmit, reproduce or otherwise make available this publication (or any part of it) in any form, or by any means (electronic, digital, optical, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
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an hour before daybreak, forty men in two boats, cotton rags tied around the shafts to muffle the creak of the oars, and the rowers dipping their blades neatly into the sleek blackness of the sea. The boats were of local design, stolen from a fishing port a week earlier, and if a coast watcher had spotted their approach, the sentinel might have mistaken them for fishermen coming home early from the night’s work. Certainly the raiders were confident that their mother ships had been invisible from the cliff tops for they had waited patiently over the horizon, hovering with sails lowered until they had the conditions they wanted: a calm sea and a thin veil of cloud to diffuse the starlight. There was no moon.
The oarsmen eased stroke as the two boats glided into the small cove. They heard the muted surge and backwash of small waves lapping the shingle, then quiet splashes as the bow men jumped out and held the boats steady while the raiders stepped knee-deep into the shallows. The water was warm for this time of year, yet it was far colder than the seas to which they were accustomed. Many of the raiders were barefoot, and as they began their march inland, the callused soles of their feet felt the change from smooth beach pebbles to tussocky grass, then the soft squelch of a boggy stream bed. A smell of rotting vegetable matter came up on the humid summer air. Ahead of them, a nesting marsh bird burst out of the reeds and flew away with a sudden clatter of wings.
Ten minutes of easy climbing along the stream bed brought them to the watershed. From a patch of level ground, they looked down the far slope at their goal. The village was less than half a mile away, a low cluster of dark roofs etched against the broad glimmer of the great bay which thrust far into the contorted and rocky coastline, providing a vast but empty anchorage. There was not a light to be seen, and still there were no warning shouts.