The fort as seen while approaching along El Puente de Las Bolas,
“the Bridge of the Balls.” Cannonballs, that is.
As I mentioned my last post on Lanzarote’s Piracy Museum, Spain’s Canary Islands are dotted with historic forts. As a stopover on the way to and from the New World, these islands off the west coast of Africa naturally became a target for piracy. Every port had at least one fort to protect it.
El Castillo de Santa Barbara, built in the 15th century to protect
the port of Teguise from pirate attacks. It was extensively rebuilt in the 16th century and
now houses a piracy museum. Photo courtesy Almudena Alonso-Herrero
When I told Black Gate‘s editor, high guru, and overall generalissimo John O’Neill that I was headed to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands and would visit a castle that had a piracy museum, he was over the Moon. What fantasy blog wouldn’t want an article on that?
Unfortunately for him, I spent my week eating, swimming, and learning to play Grand Theft Auto 5 with my son and nephew. When I finally got around to driving out to the castle, it was closed. Yeah, I failed in my job as a travel writer because I enjoyed my vacation too much.
But the island itself is worth a look, and its history is fascinating. Lanzarote lies in the Canary Island chain just off the coast of Western Sahara. It’s volcanic in origin, with a dramatic coastline ringing an interior that looks like something from a post-apocalyptic movie.
Last week I wrote about how I spent a month living in Tangier working on my next novel. Luckily my family came down with me for part of the time, and since it was my son’s first trip out of Western Europe I wanted him to enjoy himself and open his eyes a little. So what do you show a ten-year-old in Morocco? Well, besides the Casbah and the medina market, what better than an old pirate port?
Asilah stands on Morocco’s Atlantic coast and like many of the country’s ports started out as a Phoenician trading center about 3500 years ago. It’s most famous as the last base of the famed Barbary pirates, who started being a menace in the early Middle Ages. Their heyday was from the 15th to 19th century, when they terrorized shipping in the Western Mediterranean and the Strait of Gibraltar. Several European interventions, including the United States’ first overseas adventure, failed to stop them. The rampant piracy was one the excuses the French and Spanish used to establish colonies throughout North Africa.
Waters of Darkness is the new novel from David C. Smith and Joe Bonadonna, published by Damnation Books. Longtime readers of my column will recognize Bonadonna as the author of the well-received sword & sorcery title, Mad Shadows and the recent space fantasy, Three Against the Stars. David C. Smith will be familiar to Robert E. Howard fans for his series of Red Sonja novels in the 1980s.
The shade of Robert E. Howard lingers over every page of Waters of Darkness, the first collaboration by these two talented authors to see print.
The principal characters, Crimson Kate O’Toole and Bloody Red Buchanan, would have fit in nicely had this 17th Century swashbuckler first seen print in the pages of Weird Tales in the 1930s. A quest for fabled treasure sets these two buccaneers sailing for the Isle of Shadow in the far distant Eastern Seas.
They find themselves combating an evil priest of Dagon and the sorcerer in his thrall along the way and most of the crew of the Raven pays the cost for their having crossed paths.