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Blog Tour and Book Excerpt for "The Mark of the Salamander"

Book Title: The Mark of the Salamander

Series: The Island of Angels

Author: Justin Newland

Publication Date: 28th September 2023

Publisher: The Book Guild

Page Length: 256

Genre: Historical Fiction

The Mark of the Salamander

Justin Newland



Nelan Michaels is a young Flemish man fleeing religious persecution in the Spanish Netherlands. Settling in Mortlake outside London, he studies under Queen Elizabeth’s court astrologer, conjuring a bright future – until he’s wrongly accused of murder.

Forced into the life of a fugitive, Nelan hides in London, before he is dramatically pressed into the crew of the Golden Hind.

Thrust into a strange new world on board Francis Drake’s vessel, Nelan sails the seas on a voyage to discover discovery itself. Encountering mutiny, ancient tribes and hordes of treasure, Nelan must explore and master his own mystical powers – including the Mark of the Salamander, the mysterious spirit of fire.

THE MARK OF THE SALAMANDER is the first in The Island of Angels series: a two-book saga that tells the epic story and secret history of England’s coming of age during the Elizabethan era.

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Author Bio:

Justin Newland’s novels represent an innovative blend of genres from historical adventure to supernatural thriller and magical realism. His stories explore the themes of war and religion, and speculate on the human’s spiritual place in the universe.

Undeterred by the award of a Doctorate in Mathematics from Imperial College, London, he conceived his debut novel, The Genes of Isis (Matador, 2018), an epic fantasy set under Ancient Egyptian skies.

The historical thriller, The Old Dragon’s Head (Matador, 2018), is set in Ming Dynasty China in the shadows of the Great Wall.

The Coronation (Matador, 2019) was another historical adventure and speculates on the genesis of the most important event in the modern world – the Industrial Revolution.

The Abdication (Matador, 2021) is a mystery thriller in which a young woman confronts her faith in a higher purpose and what it means to abdicate that faith.

The Mark of the Salamander (Book Guild, 2023) is the first in a two-book series, The Island of Angels. Set in the Elizabethan era, it’s an epic tale of England’s coming of age.

His work in progress is the second in the series, The Midnight of Eights, the charting of the uncanny coincidences that led to the repulse of the Spanish Armada.

Author, speaker and broadcaster, Justin appears on LitFest panels, gives talks to historical associations and libraries and enjoys giving radio interviews and making podcasts.

Born three days before the end of 1953, he lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.

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Book Excerpt:

The weather was dry but bitterly cold as they walked down St Martin’s Lane to the Strand. Eleanor wanted to go home, but Nelan took her gently by the hand and led her towards the top of White Hall.

“Here, come this way,” he said. “Let me show you something.” The stone crosswas ahead; the one he’d seen a few days before.

Needle-like, the frost made it shimmer in the winter sun. Together they watched the other couples leave the church. As they passed the cross, each one paused for a moment’s silent remembrance. The men pressedtheir caps to their hearts.The women bowedtheir heads. Some shed a solitary tear. Others walked on, lost in thought.

“This is poignant,” Eleanor said. “What’s so special about this cross?”

“Edward I accompanied his wife of many years when she died near Lincoln,” Nelan said. “The King brought her body back to London on a bier. At each of the twelve stops along the way, he erected a memorial to her: a cross; a charing cross.”

“I didn’t know that,” Eleanor said, holding back a tear. “And these ordinary folk, they show her such deep respect. On a freezing day, it warms the cockles of your heart.”

“People behaved the same the other day when I came here. I wanted to share this special place, and what it means, with you.”

“What was the name of his Queen?”

Nelan looked her softly in the eye and whispered, “Eleanor.” “Oh, but that’s… my name,” she said, choking on the emotion. “It’s also called Eleanor’s Cross.”

“Nelan, you brought me here… you thought of me. That’s kind. Thank you. It’s a wonderful story of a love that lasts beyond death and into the afterlife.”

The moist sparkle in her eyes warmed him inside.

“I wonder,” she mused, pressing his hand into hers, “is the fire of love between a man and a woman immortal?”

“Perhaps one day we’ll find out,” he murmured.

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1 Comment

Cathie Dunn
Cathie Dunn
Dec 05, 2023

Thanks so much for hosting Justin Newland today, with an excerpt from The Mark of the Salamander.

Take care,

Cathie xo

The Coffee Pot Book Club

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