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Wrecked Lives- Donald Wraith

Having grown up on the noth coast of Northern Ireland, close to the wreck of an Armada ship (the Girona), I was thrilled to be asked to read and review this historical fiction novel from Donald Wraith, a Spanish side of the story following the dramatic story of a father and son's experience of the dramas, deaths and disasters of the Armada, and reminding me poignantly ( having always been taught the story from a UK history perspective) that the losses and pain of conflict were equally keenly felt by those on the Spanish side, far from home on an ill-fated mission.

I'm thrilled to be able to host an extract and some background from the author Donald Wraith today on my turn on the blogtour for this fact-filled historical drama.


Written from a Spanish perspective, where the overall theme is a story of survival against the natural elements.

In the late sixteenth century, a farmer from Andalucía searches for his runaway son who has left home to join the ships of the Spanish Armada on their holy quest of 1588.

The story unfolds away from the façade of politics, religion and military objectives, to highlight the frailties of human beings in their will to survive against the raw power of nature.

Over several months the characters experience many dangers, where tough decisions have to be made for themselves, and others to survive. All entangled within the horrors of battle and numerous shipwrecks.

During the 16th Century, exploration to the New World provided Spain with huge amounts of gold and silver. However, maintaining new colonies was costly, and had to be financed by this treasure, as well as funding Spain’s many conflicts between other countries. At this time Spain fought the Turks and the French, and from 1568 the Netherlands where, due to invasion, a rebellion began a long war of independence throughout that country. From 1587 to 1604 Spain also fought the English.


Spain’s desire for exploration and thirst for world glory provided many politicians the opportunity to increase their wealth and status. One such person was Antonio de Mendoza, the Spanish viceroy who controlled the conquered lands of New Spain (Mexico). He sent out explorers to scour the New World for Native American treasure. They had heard persistent tales of fantastic wealth and treasures, one of which was called the Seven Golden Cities of Cíbola. So, in 1540 Mendoza dispatched Francisco Vázquez de Coronado to follow up on these reports, where he encountered many Zuni Pueblos from which the original legend was inspired. Eventually, the legend proved false, and the expedition turned out to be a ruinous misadventure for all those involved. However, many tales came back from those adventures, inspiring others to follow. Perhaps the following was just such a tale…

Author, Donald Wraith:

Author guest post:

My favourite things about the main protagonist: Juan Carlos Rodriguez.

Is generally a happy and likeable boy, but as many young teenage boys of his age, he is easily impressed by stories told within his family group. Keen to learn and understand more about the world, he develops a desire for adventure. This appeals to me, as my brothers and I, when younger, have always daydreamed about fascinating adventures on desert islands, or remote places. It allowed me to give Juan Carlos a thirst for his own adventures, fuelled by his grandfather’s heroic experiences, and who was always ready to tell stories to impress the young man. Juan Carlos seizes the opportunity as the story unfolds, and I found that his journey would have been something that many teenagers would have followed. Teenagers invariably want to break away from the security and safety of their family environment, and Juan Carlos is no different. Confident in his own mortality, Juan Carlos does not hesitate when he experiences difficult situations, as it allows him to meet and make new friends. His desire to learn, also gives him the confidence to try new things, and he soon gets drawn into the world of sailing ships. Again, to a young, and easily influenced boy, the sight, sound and smells of a 16th century sailing ship must have been of great interest and fascination. Yet, Juan Carlos at times, remembers and misses his family, and is often torn between continuing his quest or returning home. I think it gives him an appealing quality to the reader, and to parents who have experienced similar situations. The hope is that he will see sense and return home safely. The bond that Juan Carlos develops with other characters shows that he has more good qualities than bad. However, the experience of war makes him realise that the world is a very dangerous place. I have tried to develop his growth from a boy to a young man, as it provides an insight into family life in general, where the home is to be nurtured as much as an adventurous mind. I enjoyed the moment when Juan Carlos realised that his father was searching for him, and that he had travelled a long way to find him. It allows Juan Carlos to think of his family more than ever, and when he learns of the danger his father was in, it worries him and makes him realise how selfish he probably was. This has allowed me to write about many emotions that young people experience when growing up. It allows the character to experience selfishness which in turn creates an awakening of his conscience. Overall, my favourite things about the main protagonist have been emotional development. Which is something that everyone experiences, and can take many formats. His overall demeanour is one of honesty, sincerity and thoughtfulness. Early influences in his life allowed him to experience and develop his character, and the type of people he meets also contributed to his attitude to life. The story shows how other people in his life can influence his decisions, and that he realises that the decisions he makes can affect many people. Thank you to Blue at Kaleidoscope for having me on the blogtour...check out the other stops this week using the details below:

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