The Seaborne by A.G.Rivett – “A parable for our particularly torn times”


The Seaborne by A.G.Rivett is a very fine debut novel.  At a time when the life and death emergency of coronavirus brings the fragility of global growth economics into focus, the tale of a man who emerges from a life and death situation to find himself in a simpler world takes on an immediate relevance.  This multi-layered and intelligent book is a rewarding read on every level: a good story that explores themes that are both contemporary and universal.

Using the device of time-travel to critique contemporary culture, the opening sets the tone for how a 21st-century, technologically-savvy man might adapt to being shipwrecked and propelled back into a world that is both like and unlike that of the Western Isles early in the second millenium AD.  A London-based engineer finds himself in a small, self-sufficient community practising basic skills, the people’s lives infused with ancient Celtic tradition. 

Building steadily towards its dramatic climax, Rivett sensitively explores themes of spirituality, acceptance and forgiveness against an authentic Celtic backdrop, born from his personal experience and backed up by research. 

Review copies of The Seaborne by A.G. Rivett and interviews with the author are available on request.  Contact us here for details.

During lockdown, The Seaborne is still available from Amazon as an ebook, and with various buying options for the paperback.

In normal times, it is also available through major bookshops.

If you remain unconvinced that The Seaborne is for you, take a look at what readers have been saying. The following quotations are selected from reviews posted on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and GoodReads.

“A man runs away from his debts and failed relationship and is washed up on a remote island. Is he still in this world or has he somehow entered an alternative reality? Will he find his way back – or, in the end, even want to? This book is beautifully written, creating the place and its people in precise and poetic detail, and made me wonder what it would be like to live in such a place, without technology and underpinned by a belief in a very present spiritual reality. It’s an intriguing and absorbing read and I look forward to reading the next book.”
Maggie H, 30 November 2019

“This book was really easy to read and beautifully written. It cleverly wove a completely believable story into an unbelievable situation. I am not normally a fan of ‘fantasy’ – this story was convincing and clever and so gentle that I slept beautifully after every read, imagining and dreaming of that misty damp green Celtic landscape with those lovely human characters who didn’t have zips and lived such a simple wholesome life. A life that we perhaps in our modern rat race world can only dream of and be transported to in The Seaborne. I have mourned finishing it and can’t wait for a sequel.”
Alpha Sierra Echo, 2 March 2020

“… Multiple worlds proliferate in fiction these days and the time-shift fantasy is virtually a genre of its own, but it is notoriously difficult to create an internally consistent and convincing alternative universe, something that I think Rivett has achieved magnificently. The world that he describes is both like and unlike our own; harsh and materially impoverished, but infused with a deep sense of spirituality…”
Richard Danckwerts, 29 November 2019

“The genius of the story is the prescient reflection of the themes of our present time through the consciousness of the main character John Finlay in his attempt to escape the failures of his life, and the challenges he faces outside of his own timeline and culture. This sets up a tension of values which reverberates through the story, creating a mirror of our present.”
Brooksby, 24 January 2020

“I have read this book twice, the second time shortly before the coronavirus outbreak of 2020. A character in the story says, “The need of the time calls forth help.” I had felt that this story was one such help at this time of such sorrowful dilemmas and rich possibilities, but now with the virus, I feel this even more so. I felt it coaxes us to turn to a simpler, more community-based way of living where there are no or fewer planes in the sky and our lives are forced into simplicity, personal creativity, greater stillness, listening and natural rhythm, and a connectedness with each other and the Sacredness of all. The story invites us I felt to explore for ourselves how we might take the best of the past and the best of our modern civilisation and forge a new, sustainable future. I highly recommend this book. ”
Joanna, 5 April 2020

“This beautifully written myth speaks to our deep inner wisdom, and calls us to return to the ancient ways of knowing that don’t look to externals for answers. It returns the reader to a deep relationship with the land, the elements and the connection with all that is. The protagonist is removed from all the distractions of modern life, returned to a time when humans live more simply. The measured pace of unfolding story invites self-reflection. As we walk with Dhion through his self-discovery, we’re are likely to hear a whisper in the air around us, “Are you living the life you are meant to live?” Highly recommended.”
Amazon Customer, 8 January 2020

“The author’s love and intimate knowledge of the Scottish landscape infuses the text. He makes apparent the importance of the hills and mountains, water, the sun and the moon to the everyday lives of his characters… Biblical parallels and symbolism abound in this tale, which give it its power to move, to enthral, and potentially challenge and change the inner world of its reader. Buy this book! But be forewarned: choose carefully a time to read it lest you find yourself compulsively absorbed, reading it into the early hours of the morning, utterly incapable of putting it down.”
P.D.N, 24 December 2019

“It’s 3am and I have been kept up by this book – a compelling read! Beautifully crafted, evocative and a gently gripping storyline that grows as you read. The main character develops into a man whom I felt I really got to know, and made me question how I would manage myself, if something like this happened to me. The images the author has created in my mind make me feel like I am also part of this community. That’s quite a skill, and I look forward to the next book.”
Jane Rogers, 30 December 2019

“This novel started slowly for me. So much to process, and it took me a while to orient myself in this new/not-so-new Celtic world. Beautifully written, I found myself drawn deeper and deeper into the story, pausing to ponder and reflect, but pulled forwards by the strong narrative line and characters. By the end, I was totally immersed in the new world, feeling quite bereft when I turned the last page. And yet I find it’s stayed with me. I’m still pausing to ponder the layers and strands.”
Cornish Rev 1 April 2020

“I loved it. I read slowly at first to savour all the various threads, and then I couldn’t put it down!”
Chrisanthe Georgiou, 1 February 2020

“A deep and moving book. Just wonderful. Wholeheartedly recommend this book and I hope the author writes more. Thank you.”
Dr. D. Morris, 8 November 2019

Damian Walford Davies, poet and academic, has described The Seaborne as:
“A novel of Celtic quantum time that asks us to consider the ways in which we are all born strangers, seaborne foundlings, living between worlds. A parable for our particularly torn times.”

About the Author

Born in London, Andrew (A.G.) Rivett is a retired priest and public health doctor with a degree in medicine. During the 1970s, Andrew lived in a rural community in northern Nigeria where people had less access to technology and a radically different culture. In 2006, he retired to live in Scotland where he met his second wife, Gillian Paschkes-Bell. His years in Scotland not only included time on an off-grid peninsula but also brought him into contact with the ancient Celtic tradition of the Céile Dé or Culdee, as well as the spiritual community of Findhorn. These experiences inform The Seaborne, an early draft of which was constructively critiqued by a Scotland-based archaeologist. Today, Andrew lives in West Wales with Gillian and continues to enjoy writing.

Excerpt from Chapter 2
Down the steep, seaward side of the pass Dermot hastened, the priest following after, his feet slipping in the screes. Eventually the ground levelled and the smells of the fishing hamlet rose to greet them – woodsmoke, and fish, and seaweed. There was a cluster of men standing outside Fengoelan’s house: Fengoelan himself with Targud; Callen, who often fished with them. Even old Dael had left his stitching. Some were still in their sealskin aprons and bibs. But he saw his Da was with them too, dressed in his more homely leine: Benrish had stayed on shore that day to fettle his gear. That was before the calm passage of the day had been turned upside down.
They all rose as they saw the priest approach. Dael came towards them, his hand outstretched. Dermot hovered behind, uncertain where he should stand.
‘Father, welcome in God’s name.’
‘In the name of Ghea and in peace. You have someone in need of me?’
Fengoelan came forward. ‘Aye, he’s within, Father. The wife’s with him, and A’Dhael.’
‘How is he?’
‘To tell truth, Father, when we brought him in his face was pale as mist. I didn’t know whether he would live or die. It was A’Dhael sent for you.’
‘She did well. Whether or not he needs my ministrations, it’s good that a stranger be welcomed. The shareg is with his cattle at the lough-side, and I am here in his stead as well as in my own. Has this man told you anything about himself?’
‘Not a word, Father,’ Dael replied. ‘I’ll call the wife, and she can tell you how it is.’ And, turning, he thrust his head round the door and called, ‘Maureen.’
A moment’s pause, and the old woman appeared. She dropped a deep curtsey to the priest. ‘Father. You’re welcome.’
‘God’s blessing on you, Mother. You have a patient again, I hear.’
‘Aye, Father. He’s very poorly, but now I think he may live. He’s just taken the wee’est sip of broth.’
‘Has he said anything? Can you tell where he’s from, who his people are?’
‘Och, he’s too weak to say a word yet, Father.’
‘Dermot here says he’s not from these parts. He’s dressed strangely?’
Dermot nodded importantly. ‘Aye. The coat.’
‘Oh, the coat, aye.’ Fengoelan turned and called through the door. ‘Shelagh – the Father’s here. Bring the coat – show the Father.’
They waited: not long, but in the awkward tension it seemed so.
‘He was wearing this as well, Father. On his wrist.’ A’Dhael opened her hand to reveal a sturdy bracelet.
Her husband drew in his breath as he saw it. ‘It’s silver,’ he whispered. Dermot craned to get a better look.
‘Father, I don’t like to carry such a thing. Will you take it – look after it, until he can claim it again?’
The priest took the precious object and held it up. Dermot stared. Everyone stared. Dermot, for one, was not impressed. Silver it might be, but not at all fine. Give a silversmith such a quantity and ask him to make a wrist-band, and he would work it in intricate knot-work and richly crafted patterns. This was unbelievably plain: as plain, Dermot thought, as his own knife. But now the priest was peering closely at something on the band. Everyone waited, but Father Hugh shook his head.
‘There is something here,’ he commented. ‘It is surely writing, though in a style I have never seen. The words mean little to me.’ Gently, he placed it back in A’Dhael’s hand. ‘No – let it stay beside him. Even such a precious thing will be safe in Fengoelan’s home.’
Now A’Fengoel came from her house, a dark bundle in her arms. She spread it out on the ground before the door. Dermot recognised it: that was indeed the coat the man had been wearing. He peered at it more closely. It was made of a stuff he could not have imagined possible.
‘We had such a trouble taking it off him,’ A’Fengoel was saying. ‘You see all these tiny…’ She pointed to two rows of minute metal teeth, one down each side of the front opening. ‘These… hook-things here. They were all joined together and for the life of me we couldn’t see how to undo them. Then – I don’t know – there’s this tassel thing. We pulled it down the way and there they were, all undone. Have you ever seen the like, Father?’
The Father had not. The men gathered round had not. Dermot, peering over the shoulders of the others, understood.
Fengoelan voiced his thought. ‘He’s a stranger from far away, isn’t he?’ he said. ‘Do you think he could be from beyond the Island, Father?’
Father Hugh touched the little metal teeth, ran his hand over the smooth fabric. ‘I’d be surprised if he’s from anywhere near the Island. I’ve been as far as Sharilland across the water, and I’ve never seen anything like this.’ He straightened up. He turned to A’Dhael. ‘Now would you take me to see the man,’ he said.
The Father disappeared into the house after the women.
‘We’d better hang it to dry.’ Dael stooped down and picked up the coat. He spread it out on the drying frame that every house had for hanging the nets or the wet clothes when they came in from the sea. The sun was pale now, behind thin cloud, but the wind was still warm.
He glanced at Dermot.
‘He’s a seaborne, then.’
Seaborne. The word echoed in Dermot’s mind while the men sat in silence. Washed up from who knew where, with no people to belong to, no clan to speak for him: a man alone in the world. He looked at them all, at their sealskins, leinte and plaids. He thought about the man, and the tough trews of some blue stuff he had been wearing and the coat of that strange smooth cloth. If this man lived, what would he turn out to be? What might he bring among them? The thought gave him an uneasy feeling.

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Publisher: Wordcatcher (November, 2019); www.wordcatcher.com
ISBN paperback: 978-17894224-6-7
ISBN E-book: 978-17894224-6-7
Pages: 353
Price: £9.99 and on Kindle for £3.99