||Dec 7, 2009
Cavalier's Call is an epic adventure, set in Portugal's 14th century that provides a gripping account of the tribulations that King Joao encountered in his rise to the throne. This is a remarkable story inspired by fact that describes a dramatic chain of events that triggers the nation's rise to power, and its dominion over the high seas.
Grant de Graf Home Page
The year is 1366, an era which sets the stage for the Age of Discovery and the conquests of the New World. The place is Portugal. Sparked on the coals of passion, a spirit of adventure burns, igniting a new found mood and inspiration across the nation. Joao de Aviz is the Infante, a prince to King Pedro I, schooled and instructed from an early age, in the skills of horsemanship, combat, navigation and survival.
The Infante is commissioned by the monarchy to defend a villain in the royal court of Coimbra against charges of murder. The prosecution is being led by the famed Don Antonio Esteves, courtier extraordinaire, with whom the Infante must do battle. Joao is forced to navigate his way through the stormy seas of the courtroom, with a creative brilliance and argument that threatens to trounce his opponent.
Joao's love for the daughter of his most vehement opponent, the beautiful Ines Peres Esteves, is being tested, and the couple must escape from the sword of assassins. When Joao and Ines Peres are forced into exile, stripped of all honor, and branded with a muddied reputation, the Infante must now stage his biggest comeback, and wage his toughest battle.
Cavalier's Call is the story of a man's ambition and love, his struggle to hold his course of living a life with principle over expediency, and the quest to rise above the ashes of dissension. Joao de Aviz is the man who dared to challenge the might of the nation's monarchy, an unwilling hero who became the chosen one, a prince who was destined to lead Portugal to independence.
Scheduled for release in early spring 2010.
As Joao traveled along the cobble paths towards the city exit, he felt the doors slam and the metal locks creak in their crevice. Frowned foreheads, and solemn greetings had become euphemisms for, "we will turn you over to your executioner." These were expressions that rolled from lips that lie, communications betrayed to a sensitive soul and revealed to a man whose reputation had been thrown to the hounds.
Before he reached the northern gate, he sensed and detected the assassins with their sharpened swords and threatening knives, as they waited in the shadows to pounce on their imaginary chest of treasures. This was booty that had been magically delivered to a master, and celebrated long before the assassins had even managed to secure a visual fix on their victim. Joao quickly retreated into the dark alleys of Lisbon, carefully negotiating his way along the cobbled stone towards the harbor, and disappearing into the dense crowds of bustling taverns, filled to capacity with seamen and drunken sailors. The men wet whistle on their beer and jeered with laughter. They were hedonists that immersed their souls in the excitement of celebration, and that chased the thrill of cheap and fleeting pleasures.
Dark ominous storm clouds hovered over the region, which threatened to drown the city in a burst of torrential shower. When the thunder and lightening struck, the skies opened and the rain poured, accompanied by powerful winds that shook the port, and that uprooted small trees and objects that had not been secured. Inhabitants scurried for protection and dived for cover under shelter.
The tavern proprietor was a round and jolly fellow that exuded a contagious air of joy and celebration. "We serve the Esteves Encruzado wine, the leading brand in the land, or for something traditional, the best of the rest, our house beer. What will it be cava-lier?" declared the proprietor with a wink.
Joao opted for the house beer and asked the proprietor if he knew where he could secure a charter to Faro, about sixty miles east of Sagres along the Algarve, situated on the lower ledge of Portugal's window, as mirrored in the eyes of navigators and mapmakers when they slave over their charts. He gestured towards a man that sat at the end of the counter, who wore a shabby cap and a shaggy beard, as white as the tips of waves in a treacherous storm. "His friends call him Skip," advised the proprietor in a covert whisper, whilst leaning forward towards the counter. "Pay tribute and ode to Skip Mario Oneti, a man who knows these waters like the palms of his hand, commended and trusted with the ability to sail any plank, someone who displays a keen skill for navigation and seamanship that will outmatch any man in this land." The proprietor gave a deep sigh. "Unfortunately, may the Lord have mercy on us," he said, as he rolled back his eyes. "Today, he is a prisoner of the bottle."
Joao strolled over to the legendary mariner. "Ola Skip. The name is Paulo Risco from Porto," said the Infante outstretching his arm in the way of friendly introduction. "I seek passage to Faro, at the earliest opportunity. I have family who reside in the region that demands my presence."
"My rate is twenty pesetas all in, payable strictly in advance," mumbled Skip in a barely coherent fashion, taking a full swig of his tumbler as he emptied its contents in a single foul swoop.
"If we leave within the hour, I'll double your wage," proposed Joao.
Skip's eyes widened to their full capacity. He staggered to his feet to take a closer peek at the stranger that was making the offer. With his finger outstretched towards João, he imagined that he was the commander of a fleet trying to make a direction call. "To attempt an exit from the mouth of the harbor in this storm, you need to be either blind drink, or a couple of hogs short of a happy banquet.
"But I tell you what cavalier, since you are testing my expertise in seamanship, and I have a debt to finalize with the tavern, make it fifty square, and we'll call it a done deal. What do you say captain?" Even before Joao had even the opportunity to respond, Skip had bellowed to the proprietor that he would be immediately settling out his account, and suggested that for good measure another two bottles of fine beverage should be added to his inventory of collectables. "This generation is short on courage," he said with his hand balanced on Joao for support. "We need bold and brute courage, individuals who will lead by example."
Author Grant de Graf snaps the ribbon with the launch of his historical novel Cavalier's Call (ISBN 978-0-557-22972-7), in early spring. The story, which is based on fact, is set towards the end of Portugal's fourteenth century, an era that immediately precedes the Age of Discovery. Ironically, it is a period that has remained relatively unexplored by the writing fraternity.
Historians have also exhibited a certain restraint in conducting any meaningful research on Portugal's conquests of the high seas. Clearly, de Graf had to dig deep for the facts to fully absorb how the country came to be a powerhouse amongst the nations of the world. He is appreciative of the remarkable manner in which their initiatives laid the foundations for widespread colonization. This was a strategy that Spain, the English and Dutch followed, enacted in the hope that explorers would return to their shores with precious bounty and merchandise from foreign lands.
Colonization, as de Graf is aware, is not free from controversy. The author of Cavalier's Call is a native South African, who is familiar with the cries of disdain that echoed across the savannahs of Africa during the days of apartheid. He knows well the struggle and tears of protest against the legacy that colonization had fathered. Nevertheless, the policy of exploration and conquest became a hallmark amongst the leading nations of the time, and laid the playing field for the discovery of Southern Africa and the Americas. There are probably few nations in the world today, including China, that are unaffected by the impact that it carved on their soil.
As a prelude to a first read the author offers his audience a video clip. It is an enchanting introduction of the early venture capitalism that motivated Portugal to search for a new trade route, and pursue exploration. It allows one to appreciate the serious implications of decisions that were volleyed across the nation's drawing boards during that era. However, Cavalier's Call deals primarily with the period prior to the Age of Discovery, as it was de Graf's intent to capture the mood and spirit that led up to Portugal's coming of age and true independence. An outline of the plot may be viewed at www.grantdegraf.com/Writings ~
The interplay of different personalities is commendably constructed. At the outset of the novel, the relationship that the main character Joao de Aviz enjoys with his father, the king, is touching, even admirable. De Graf has clearly used accounts from his own personal experience, having lost his father at an early age, to bring to the table some meaningful and candid insights. The author's ventures in life, which extend from a stint as a jackeroo on sheep stations in Australia to a position as a trader on Wall Street, do not make him a candidate who will need tissues to wipe the back of his ears. De Graf warmly captures the childhood relationship that Joao de Aviz and Nuno Álvares Pereira enjoy during their impressionable years, as they gallop across the sierras of Portugal and Castile in quest of their trophies.
The appointment of Joao to defend a man charged with murder in the royal court, moves the story to a new pace. De Graf is a master at recreating the mood and play for power that existed in the legal battles of the time. The tone is enthralling and intriguing.
Ines Peres is the daughter of the all-powerful Don Antonio Esteves, the courtier who leads the bench of prosecution in the royal court, and Joao's bitter opponent. Joao falls for the feisty and strong-willed Ines Peres, and the couple elopes with henchmen in hot pursuit. Although the plot is uncomplicated, chapters are filled with twists that come at the most unexpected moment, adding to the energy that drives the pace. Cavalier's Call is engaging and captivating, and turning the pages of this historical piece of fiction is a breeze.
A sample read of the first chapters of Cavalier's Call is available for review, and provides a good example of de Graf's style of writing. It is sophisticated and engaging, consistent with that of a historical novel. Although there are no steamy bedroom scenes, there is the use of occasional imagery that is suggestive of a D.H. Lawrence style.
The first edition is in English, but translations into Spanish and Portuguese are sure to follow. A sequel is also in the making. The book trailer, which is available for review on YouTube, is a strong appetizer and makes the prospect of reading Cavalier's Call, compelling. Although no film rights have yet been secured, if the videos are anything to go by, it is difficult to comprehend why the novel will not be snapped up by the circuit.
De Graf joins a line of novelists that are entering a changing industry and pioneering their own path to publication. No attempts were made to identify an agent or secure a publisher to represent the author. "Such initiatives would have just protracted the process of publication," says de Graf. "I was keen to see the book go to print in an expedited fashion." The novel will be listed through Amazon, Borders, Barnes&Noble, and all major distributors. It will also be available as an EBook from LuLu, and accessible via Kindle and iPad.
Cavalier's Call makes its entry onto the successful and appealing bookshelf of historical novels by veteran writers. The author, Grant de Graf, was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1960. De Graf currently freelances for a number of news channels and tabloids, and has a strong interest in history and wildlife. He is a seasoned globetrotter who speaks at charity events regularly. Additional contact information is available on his Google Profile and the Official Website.
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