The story: A 12th century Irish woman sets out on the legendary voyage of Prince Madog of Wales.
Aisling, despite her best efforts, has failed to become the seer her mother desired, so when her mother dies, leaving her alone, she travels to Wales to be with her brother, Cormac, at the royal court at Gwynedd. There she finds he is joining Prince Madog’s voyage to the western lands in order to escape the threatening war. After Madog refuses to let her come with them she stows away, desperate to remain with her brother. A terrible storm arises and she is tossed overboard by a resentful Welshman and washes up on the shores of the Gulf Coast. Caxna, a Tlingit trader and former shaman, finds her and reluctantly agrees to let her join him on a trading journey to the Mayan city of Xicallanca, and then Etowah, (in present day Georgia) in the hopes she might find Madog and her brother. Caxna must succeed in this trading journey in order to free his clan, but with Aisling along everything changes.
Some advance reviews:
….Gleeson leaves us with a memorable and poignant love story and a vision of a wonderful culture, unique in my experience of literature.
Karen Charlton, author of The Heiress of Linn Hagh and Catching the Eagle
The underlying sexual tension is all the more powerful for the beautifully restrained writing, which makes the slightest touch electric; a medicinal massage becomes a moment of physical communion…. This is what Kristin Gleeson does best; portraying different cultures and showing how humanity can cross them.
Jean Gill, author of Song at Dawn and Bladesong
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According to the legend, Prince Madog’s father, Owain ap Gruffydd ap Cynan, King of Gwynedd, died leaving ten sons from several different marriages. In Welsh tradition the eldest wasn’t automatically the heir, so the throne was up for grabs. The oldest son, Iorewerth, couldn’t claim the throne because he had a deep scar across his face and anyone one with such a physical blemish wasn’t allowed to be king. Another son Howel/Hwyel, who was something of a poet and had an Irish mother, Pyvog, seized the throne and held it precariously for two years. He went to Ireland to claim his mother’s property and found on his return his brother Davydd had claimed the throne.
Against this backdrop Prince Madog, a much younger son, decided to take to the seas. He’d spent years sailing around France, Spain and into the Mediterranean, trading in various ports. Navigation was still primitive in the 12th century, but his voyage most likely began in Wales and down along the French coast and then westwards. Eventually the strong ocean currents caught him up and it is speculated that they took him into the Canaries and then to what is now the Alabama and Florida coast. There he sailed along the coast and ended up in what is now Mobile Bay, Alabama. He landed, left a few there, and returned to Wales to bring more colonists. Those left behind traveled upriver encounter friendly and unfriendly natives and built stone structures along the way until they eventually settled in the Great Plains of the Midwest.
The legend attained its greatest prominence during the Elizabethan era, when English and Welsh writers wrote of the claim that Madog had come to the Americas as an assertion of prior discovery, and hence legal possession, of North America by the Kingdom of England. In the following decades and centuries there were many reported encounters with ‘white Indians’ and a few stating also that they spoke Welsh. Most surprising is the report that in 1801 a Welshman met a group of Native American leaders and was surprised to find that one spoke in Welsh and claimed that it was the language of his mother and father and of his nation. There is no apparent strong archaeological proof of this voyage in any part of America, but the legend still continues.