Galician Wave

All is not well between Hadrián and Mónica. Hadrián is licking his wounds, after having been betrayed in the crypt and lost the dragon’s powers as they were being transferred to him. All he thinks about is getting the dragon’s powers back and being able to fly again. But he has started avoiding his girlfriend, Mónica, who reminds him of the status he has lost. And yet he can’t help remembering the last time they were together at the Moor’s Pool and the intimacy they shared. Meanwhile, Mónica has problems of her own – and not just the mathematical equations set by their teacher Miss Ermidas. Her period is late, and she is aware of an ever so slight heartbeat in her womb. If the prophecy that said, ‘The day will come when the dragon’s son will regain the power wrested from its father,’ did not in fact refer to Hadrián, could it refer to the creature she is carrying? And how will Hadrián react to the news that she might be pregnant? In this fourth instalment of the saga about the Galician dragon Dragal, the relationships between the members of the Fraternity – Hadrián, Mónica, the policeman Cortiñas, the museum director Iria, Hadrián’s mother Carme and his erstwhile rival Brais – become confused. Their ambitions collide, so they cannot always work together. And a new parish priest, Don Miguel, enters the mix, who is as keen as anybody to discover the ancient catacombs beneath the church that lead to the dragon’s crypt. But with the summer solstice approaching, who will make it there first – the dragon’s allies or its enemies?

The Roman poet Ovid’s famous book of poetry Metamorphoses contains a succession of women who are changed into something else after they have been raped. One of these is Medusa, the Gorgon, daughter of the sea deities (and also siblings) Phorcys and Ceto. She is reputed to have been a ravishingly beautiful maiden, with striking hair, who received the attention of many suitors. She was raped by the god of the sea, Neptune, in Minerva’s temple. In anger at this desecration of her temple, Minerva turned Medusa’s hair into serpents and made her face so terrible to behold that it would turn any who looked at it into stone. The Greek hero Perseus, son of Jupiter and the mortal Danaë, was sent by the king of Seriphos, Polydectes, who desired Perseus’ mother and wished to get Perseus out of the way, to behead the Gorgon. For this purpose, he received help from the gods: a shield of polished bronze, winged sandals, an adamantine sword and Hades’ helm of darkness (or invisibility cloak). According to the myth, he beheaded her in her sleep and used her head as a weapon before giving it to Minerva. But who is the real victim here? Medusa suffers for her beauty. She is raped by a god and punished by another. People then avoid looking her in the eye in case they are turned to stone. And how does the myth of Medusa relate to two students in Galicia in their final year at school, Sofía and Lupe, who after a fancy-dress dinner, in the early hours of the morning, are picked up by two men and sexually assaulted? What will the reaction of their classmates be? Will they be prepared to look them in the eye? And how will the girls themselves respond to this assault in a society that may prefer to sweep its acts of indecency under the carpet and turn a blind eye? Head of Medusa is a story of wrongdoing, friendship, renewal and moral courage.

During the Spanish Civil War, two sisters, Harmony and Rose, are sent to Russia by their parents for their own safety. Their father is a soldier in the Republican army, their mother a nurse in a field hospital. The children board the French cargo ship that is to take them on the fifteen-day journey to Leningrad, or St Petersburg as it is also known, but unfortunately their mother is unable to arrive in time to see them off. In Russia, they are treated well, looked after by the woman in charge of the children’s home, María do Mar, and attend school. They are given a task to write a letter to their nearest relatives, and all Harmony can do is apologize for leaving without saying goodbye to their mother, hoping she isn’t angry. Rose contributes a drawing of a red hen surrounded by chicks. As the years pass, the children develop a close friendship with another refugee child, Leo, the only one who boarded the ship without bursting into tears. The war in Spain reaches its conclusion only to be replaced by the Second World War, which marks the events in this story irrevocably. This is a charming story, full of humour and tenderness, in which parents struggle to do the right thing, children grow up ahead of time and dreams become reality for those who remain persistent.

In this third and final instalment of Leo’s travelling adventures, Leo has been travelling for four months, but an amorous snub received while she is in Paris makes her want to call it a day and go straight home without completing the planned six months of her trip. Her aunt’s insistence and a surprise visit help Leo reconsider her hasty decision and, just as she was expecting to return to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, where she is from, she finds herself on a transatlantic flight to Buenos Aires. When she was planning this trip with her friends, who ended up pulling out, she had never envisaged travelling to South America, but now she will be swallowed up by the infinite grid of Argentina’s capital city, she will be pursued by the shadow of Argentina’s first serial killer as far as the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia, she will be entranced by the magical beauty of the famous Perito Moreno Glacier with all its shades of blue, she will finally fulfil her dream of visiting Machu Picchu in Peru, she will be unimpressed by the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, be doused in sugar in the white city of Arequipa and walk under the grey Lima sky. Back in Buenos Aires, at the end of six months, she will face a critical decision, which may lead her to the author of all those messages that have appeared in front of most of the monuments she has visited: ‘I Love You Leo A.’ Who has been painting these messages wherever she goes? And having once set out on her travels, will Leo ever manage to return back home?

When Guiomar Brelivete, a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl who lives in Audierna, is told by her parents that she must start attending klavia lessons in the old quarter of Plugufan and miss training sessions for maila, her favourite sport, she is understandably annoyed. But her teacher, Mastrina Xaoven, turns out to have a sense of humour and agrees, in return for Guiomar learning to play the instrument, to tell her a story about a girl called Attica who is a member of the politically powerful Gwende community. The traditional inhabitants of the land, the Malluma community, have been confined to the nabrallos or suburbs, where Gwendes are not supposed to go. But one evening Attica boards a train to the nabrallo of Bragunde, hoping to attend a concert in one of the famous hicupé clubs, and there she meets Fuco, a Malluma boy who claims to be a firewalker. The nabrallo has been overrun by a plague of scorpions, and the children resolve to consult the witch Onga, Queen of the Cemetery, about this. They will learn that a far greater evil lurks beneath them, in the lost underground world of Nigrofe, where the balance between good and evil has been obliterated by the removal of a sacred tree, and it rests on them to restore that balance if only they can find a way in… In these two tales, the line between fiction and reality is blurred, and there is a striking resemblance between the old music teacher and the intrepid girl in her story.

Nico is a computer programmer from Coruña in Galicia. On a business trip to the city of Bergen in Norway, he visits the quays of Bryggen, a place he has been to before. He buys a couple of postcards from a shop there and, much to his surprise, discovers that one of them has captured the moment when he and his friends visited Bergen on an Interrail trip after leaving school ten years earlier. There they all are: Óscar in his Deportivo football shirt with Bea; Nico with the slightly pretentious Mía, poring over a map; the Italian exchange student, Piero, a few feet behind them. But where is Nico’s girlfriend, Aroa, and his best friend from school, Xacobe, the other two members of the group? Nico is shocked to find that they are in a corner of the postcard away from the others and are kissing. He resolves to unearth all the mystery surrounding that trip and the bitter month of September that immediately followed, when a tragedy occurred, a tragedy that split the group apart and from which no one has recovered. He will invite all his friends to a school reunion and, by gauging their reactions to the postcard, finally learn the truth of what happened.

In order for Dragal to come back to life, possibly at the expense of Hadrián’s humanity, the descendants of the original seven knights must meet in the dragon’s crypt at midnight on the first full moon of the spring equinox, which coincides with Easter night. They must have the keys of the Secret Science with them: the parchment that stands for Wisdom, the master crystal that signifies Strength, and the alchemical egg that represents the dragon’s Secret. The parish priest, Don Xurxo, and the policeman who investigated Hadrián’s previous disappearance, Cortiñas, are considered to be two knights, but even counting Hadrián and Hadrián’s mother, that still leaves another three knights that will have to be convened if the Dragon’s Fraternity is to be complete and successfully fulfil the prophecy about the dragon’s child regaining the power wrested from its father and releasing the telluric forces. Perhaps the fire at St Peter’s, which has destroyed much of the inside of the church, will act as a magnet, attracting the other members of the fraternity and enabling the ritual to be carried out. But with services for Holy Week transferred to the sports pavilion, and a nosy bishop, the race is on to reach the dragon’s crypt in time.

It is several years since the events of Brother of the Wind, the prequel to Flower of Sand, and Amrah, the daughter of the mayor of Qhissa Hanni in the mountains of north Iraq, has adapted to her new life in Kirkuk. Her father has gone from being mayor of a small village to becoming a pivotal figure in the oil business, an intermediary between foreign corporations and local companies, and an aspiring politician. He has betrothed his daughter to his business partner, the governing judge Jemaa Lefta. Amrah, however, has not forgotten her childhood sweetheart, Khaled, or her wish to study architecture at university and design buildings in the new Iraq. Her studies bring her into contact with a local resistance leader, Haytham al-Taleb, and when her father falsely accuses her mother of adultery and divorces her, she agrees to provide Haytham with information about his business activities. Her involvement with the resistance will go much further than that, however, taking her down a road she would never have imagined, and ultimately salvation will take the form of the most unexpected person in her life.

Khaled is an Iraqi boy, a member of the Koblai tribe, growing up in the village of Qhissa Hanni in the mountains of north Iraq. He has left school to look after his family’s flock of sheep, but his father and the local schoolteacher think he has the makings of a writer, so they give him a notebook in which he records his aspirations, events in the village, the life of his family, his wish to own a horse which he will call ‘Ahu al-Rih’ or ‘Brother of the Wind’, his secret engagement to the mayor’s daughter, Amrah, so secret that even she doesn’t know about it, the time when he and a friend go frog hunting and slip a couple of frogs into the midwife’s bag, causing havoc when the midwife is due to assist in the birth of Ilaisha’s son… The book is presented as a series of letters which Khaled writes to the son of a European archaeologist, Dr Meira, nicknamed ‘Al-Galego’, who has taken up residence in the village in order to pursue his archaeological studies and because he has grown fond of the Iraqi way of life. But the invasion of the country in 2003 by the United States and its allies casts a heavy shadow over this remote village and its inhabitants, who struggle to come to terms with the issues that are at stake and who will have to draw on all their reserves of courage and strength if they are to survive. The war will bring tragedy to the village and will force Khaled to undertake a journey he has never imagined before, to the heart of the country’s capital, Baghdad. This is a journey of principle, of courage over fear, of faith and friendship, of self-sacrifice, that will change Khaled’s expectations forever.

In this second instalment of Leo’s travelling adventures, Leo, a university graduate, has been travelling on her own for three months. She finds herself on the outskirts of Ankara, the capital of Turkey, after visiting the famous rock churches of Cappadocia. She returns to Istanbul, hoping to find her current boyfriend in the hotel room where she left him. A moment of panic causes her to lash out and buy a one-way ticket to Prague, where she hooks up with a group of Americans, practises her English and tours Bohemia with its ups and downs. She then dresses up as a Vestal Virgin to see if she can fool the man of her dreams in the Roman Forum. Another misunderstanding almost leads to disaster, but the other members of Ruth & Co. – the group of buskers who are a joy for the pocket and a heaviness for the heart – prevent this, and together they travel to Siena, Bologna and Venice in Italy before Leo decides it is time to visit her favourite aunt in Paris. Along the way, Leo continues to come across graffiti that says ‘I Love You Leo A.’ – who is the anonymous author of these messages that pursue her wherever she goes?

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