The Praying Nun
Slave Shipwreck Saga Book 1
by Michael Smorenburg
Genre: Historical Thriller
An uncharted shipwreck, the mysteries she hides, and the brutalized souls who suffered her holds.
In 1985 two divers discovered an ancient uncharted shipwreck off South Africa's Cape of Storms. Salvaging the wreck only inflames the enigma with the trail of secrets compounding and the wreck refusing to yield her identity. Countless vessels, some crammed with bullion, have joined this ship graveyard over the centuries, but what sort of galleon was this, leaving only cannon, cannon balls and scant few clues behind? Three decades pass before the Smithsonian of Washington solves the riddle.
It's 1794 on the fevered coast of Mozambique. Chikunda and his wife Mkiwa, stripped naked and shackled, are heaved aboard the São José de Africa. Only a miracle may save them from the horrors below deck where more than 400 fellow slaves are crammed. But nobody can guess what fate has in store.
If you're a Wilbur Smith or Clive Cussler fan, you will be riveted by this fact-inspired fictionalized tale by Michael Smorenburg, based as it is by personal experience, extensive research and the legacy of artifacts salvaged from the São José de Africa. Pick it up now to go on the adventure of a lifetime.
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We drop anchor in ten fathoms and I look up in awe.
Above us soars the thickly knotted flora-clad slopes of a virgin mountain, untouched by the hand of man.
It’s as if we’re in a time slip, plunged back hundreds of years into antiquity, right on the mark of a tragedy that happened less than a century ago.
Unusual for this wild coast where ships are quickly dismembered by the elements and barely recognizable as wrecks within a few decades, this wreck is still intact, it’s frame and ribs holding out.
Often, I look at our coast and try to paint out the houses and roads to imagine how it must have looked. Now, on this untouched section of coast, I do the opposite, I try to paint in what it might look like teaming with humanity and our pigeonhole edifices we call ‘homes’, cut into the slopes.
“You okay?” Jacques asks. “Afraid?”
“Terrified,” I humour his quirky banter.
“No, seriously. You okay? Not even seasick?” He knows I’m better in the water than on it. I love boats, but they don’t like me.
I do appreciate where he’s coming from though—it’s unhealthy to not be a little fearful. Fear stops you from doing stupid things, and when you’re out of your comfort zone—in our case, going deeper than I’ve ever gone, into an environment I’ve never been—it’s good to feel some fear. And fear, from my experience, can trigger seasickness.
“Yeah. I’m apprehensive,” I allow.
“Good.” He pulls his hood on. “Gonna be long?”
“You get in, I’m just thinking.”
“Quit being nostalgic. Concentrate on the job. What’s our objective?”
He asked me this on one of our first dives together when we were out to harvest a sack full of fish, red gold…lobster. I gave him the obvious answer, “To catch as many as possible.”
“To get the biggest?” What else was there?
“To not get caught.”
Slave Shipwreck Saga Book 2
A slave evades re-capture after his slave ship is wrecked at the treacherous Cape of Good Hope, only to face handing himself over when his wife goes missing with the man who rescued them. A tale of hope, fear and most of all, the yearning for freedom.
It's 1794 and the slave trade is at its ugly peak. When the Portuguese slave ship Sao Jose Paquete de Africa shipwrecks at the Cape of Good Hope, only two hundred of the four hundred slaves aboard survive.
Chikunda and his pregnant wife evade re-capture only to face the impassable cliffs of Table Mountain. With the wild South Atlantic at their backs, Cape Town's gallows and whipping post to the north, the British garrison blocking escape to the south, and dangers of an untamed African coast to the east of a vast mountain range, escape seems impossible.
When Chikunda's wife goes missing, he has a monumental choice to make. Pick up The Reckoning now and lose yourself in a world you never could have imagined, a world where freedom slips ever more out of a man's grasp.
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Cape of Good Hope, tip of Africa Winter, 1794
Mussel shells baked brittle as the finest china by countless African noons clinked and shattered under the heel of a boot.
The sound of it jarred Chikunda, yanking him to his feet as if a rope were already about his neck.
A rough club in his hand, he crouched like a knife-fighter, ready to protect his pregnant wife as she lay, still frozen to the earth where they’d been embracing just an instant before.
“There’ll be no need for that!”
The man with an unruly mop of coal black hair and glinting blue eyes rumbled his warning in a coarse Portuguese dialect.
The yawning mouth of his battered old blunderbuss was aimed at Chikunda’s chest.
A fawn-coloured mongrel with the likeness of a dingo stood silently at the man’s heel, its one ear urgently at attention, the other battling gamely to rise beyond half-mast.
The weapon in the stranger’s hands was swaying. The man dangerously shaky, his ragged breathing betraying fear… or, perhaps worse, excitement.
“Put it down,” he ordered Chikunda.
He was a small man, slight of build with hands as gnarled as the granite boulders strewn all around Chikunda’s makeshift encampment on the shell-littered beach.
“You are the shipwreck survivors,” he accused. “From the slaver?”
Michael Smorenburg (b. 1964) grew up in Cape Town, South Africa. An entrepreneur with a passion for marketing, in 1995 Michael moved to California where he founded a business consultancy and online media and marketing engine in the burgeoning internet. In 2003 he returned to South Africa where he launched a security company. In 2015 he divested of the business to write full time. Michael's greatest love is the ocean, keeping up with the latest breakthroughs in science, understanding the cosmos and sharing all he learns.
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