12 February, 2024

Read an Excerpt from The Mark of the Salamander by Justin Newland


The Mark of the Salamander

by Justin Newland

February 12-23, 2024 Virtual Book Tour


The Mark of the Salamander by Justin Newland


Nelan Michaels is a young Flemish man fleeing religious persecution in the Spanish Netherlands. Settling in Mortlake outside London, he studies under Queen Elizabeth’s court astrologer, conjuring a bright future – until he’s wrongly accused of murder.

Forced into the life of a fugitive, Nelan hides in London, before he is dramatically pressed into the crew of the Golden Hind.

Thrust into a strange new world on board Francis Drake’s vessel, Nelan sails the seas on a voyage to discover discovery itself. Encountering mutiny, ancient tribes and hordes of treasure, Nelan must explore and master his own mystical powers – including the Mark of the Salamander, the mysterious spirit of fire.

THE MARK OF THE SALAMANDER is the first in The Island of Angels series: a two-book saga that tells the epic story and secret history of England’s coming of age during the Elizabethan era.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Fiction / Magical Realism
Published by: Book Guild
Publication Date: September 28, 2023
Number of Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781915853271 (ISBN10: 1915853273)
Series: The Island of Angels, 1 of 2
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

Read an excerpt:

Chapter 19

Home at Last

26th September 1580

It was midway through the afternoon watch. On a Monday. It wasn’t any old Monday. It was a special Monday. Not because of an extra beer ration; nor because of the smell of fish emanating from the galley. No – it was because, on that autumn day, nearly all fifty-eight surviving crew members hung over the gunwale, their eyes dripping with expectation and glued to the horizon. On occasion, they glanced up at the topmast and the barrel man as if waiting for a message from the heavens. None came, even after they’d passed the Isles of Scilly. Nor did it come after they passed Wolf Rock. It surely wouldn’t be long in coming.

As the creaking of the sails ceased, the Golden Hind glided serenely through the waters as if drawn forward by a divine wind. Even the gulls stopped squawking. A light rain shower washed the decks. The men gazed at the white flecks on the waves.

Amidst the quiet, a cry went out, and travelled down the mizzenmast, across the poop deck and into the soul of each crew member. “Land ho!”

Nelan stood next to Fletcher, who raised his hands like an Old Testament prophet and cried out, “Oh, my God!” Then he knelt on the deck, hands clasped in a prayer of thanksgiving.

The other hands – all long-haired, heavily bearded, and stinking of piss, ale and perspiration – planted their knees on the deck. To Nelan, that moment felt portentous. It was one of collective bliss in which men of all ranks, natures and ages shared a sublime experience and encountered, perhaps for a few seconds only, the most concentrated religious feeling in the world: that of belonging to each other and to a land. Perhaps they didn’t know it fully, then. Maybe they had an inkling of it, as Nelan did. But at that moment, each of them knew that, through their voyage, their endeavours and their courage, they had unchained the shackles of the past, cut most of the remaining threads of the Gordian Knot of papal suppression, summoned the fresh, clean winds of the future, and set the people of England on a course towards the discovery of themselves and towards an exploration of the world and its peoples.

As the familiar jagged promontory of the Lizard hove into view, the hardy souls who’d survived unimaginable hardships together were stunned to silence. For once, their tongues stopped wagging. Where before they had been vocal in their japes and musical in their jaunts, now they were mute, stilled by the awe and wonder of seeing the distant contours of their land, their England, appear on the horizon. Their journey neared its end. They knew that another would begin as surely as God gave them the grace of another breath. They had not seen this land’s green pastures and gentle slopes for over a thousand days; 1,018, the pilot told them. England. Home at last. They would greet friends they had not seen for two years and ten months. See children who’d grown from suckling babe to infant. Meet mothers who’d given birth in the interim. Comfort wives grown old from the worry, and embrace daughters who’d married during their long absence. They’d clasp hands with their brothers, fathers and sons, and hold them close. Such were the anticipated joys of homecoming. Since they’d set out twice from old Plymouth – once when storms had forced them to return to safe harbour, and later when they’d finally embarked on that fateful day in December 1577 – this was a second coming.

Nelan swallowed hard. He licked his parched lips. While he didn’t expect anyone to meet him on the quay, he remained as excited as the native-born mariners to see old England. She was his home now. She had been a haven for Protestants from all over Europe fleeing the cruel persecution of the Inquisition. He couldn’t go back to Sangatte or Leiden. The angels of the island coursed through his blood and enriched his soul. He belonged to them, and they belonged in him.

From within him there arose a poem of persuasion, a song of softness, a dance of deliberation.

One question hovered on the lips of the crew. But none dared speak it aloud. Not Nelan, and, for once, not even Tom. But it demanded to be asked. The answer would decide their fate; particularly that of the officers and gentlemen and, most of all, of the admiral. He had to be the one to ask it.


Excerpt from The Mark of the Salamander by Justin Newland. Copyright 2023 by Justin Newland. Reproduced with permission from Justin Newland. All rights reserved.



Author Bio:

Justin Newland

JUSTIN NEWLAND’s novels represent an innovative blend of genres from historical adventure to supernatural thriller and magical realism. His stories explore the themes of war and religion, and speculate on the human’s spiritual place in the universe. Undeterred by the award of a Doctorate in Mathematics from Imperial College, London, he conceived his debut novel, The Genes of Isis (Matador, 2018), an epic fantasy set under Ancient Egyptian skies.

  • The historical thriller, The Old Dragon’s Head (Matador, 2018), is set in Ming Dynasty China in the shadows of the Great Wall.
  • The Coronation (Matador, 2019) was another historical adventure and speculates on the genesis of the most important event in the modern world – the Industrial Revolution.
  • The Abdication (Matador, 2021) is a mystery thriller in which a young woman confronts her faith in a higher purpose and what it means to abdicate that faith.
  • The Mark of the Salamander (Book Guild, 2023) is the first in a two-book series, The Island of Angels. Set in the Elizabethan era, it’s an epic tale of England’s coming of age.
  • His work in progress is the second in the series, The Midnight of Eights, the charting of the uncanny coincidences that led to the repulse of the Spanish Armada. Author, speaker and broadcaster, Justin appears on LitFest panels, gives talks to historical associations and libraries and enjoys giving radio interviews and making podcasts. Born three days before the end of 1953, he lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.

    Catch Up With Our Author:
    BookBub - @justinnewland
    Instagram - @drjustinnewland
    Twitter/X - @JustinNewland53
    Facebook - @justin.newland.author
    Pinterest - @jnewland0711



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    1 comment:

    1. Hey Debdatta, many thanks for hosting this stop on the opening day of the PIC Blog Tour of my novel, The Mark of the Salamander.