The Virgin of the Wind Rose – Glen Craney

A captivating tale combining adventurous 15th Century tales, famous Portuguese explorers, a Portuguese chapel and the discovery of the sea route to the East


How can you describe all the book’s tales without using several pages, the fascinating adventures of the 15th Century during Prince Henry’s reign over Portugal –  Henry the Navigator, who loved sailing but was physically unable to do so?

His dream of finding unknown worlds far away inspired sailors to forget their fears about falling off the disc-shaped earth and try to push beyond what seemed humanly possible.

Who has not heard of the Knights Templar but did you know in their ranks were distinguished, Jewish cartographers and astrologers? How do Knights from Medieval times connect to present-day Lalibela in Northern Ethiopia or, for that matter, to Jaqueline Quartermane, a lawyer for the US State Department?


In Washington,  Jaqueline (Jaq) is with her close friend the Reverend Merry, when she is told her fiancé Paul Merion was shot by rebels during a riot in Lalibela, the centre of pilgrimage in Ethiopia. Jaq insists upon retrieving Paul’s remains and finding out why Paul was murdered which will put her in dangerous situations and cause her to fly around the world to discover and decipher secret codes and encrypted numerology forming the key to interpreting old scripts.

How do the rose windows in churches in for instance Ethiopia, France and Rome fit in and what is their significance? On her way, Jaq finds an ally in the mysterious stranger Elymas, who saves her life in Lalibela. Who would have thought that a devoted Presbyterian, saving herself for marriage,  and a non-religious scoundrel and thief come to depend on each other and form a bond of trust and friendship?

What started with finding Paul’s murderer ends up in a thrilling adventure, sending them across the world amidst dangers, violence and murders.

Some 500 years earlier, Pero da Covilha dreams of sailing the seas to find new lands for his ruler, Prince Henry – the Old Man – the Navigator. The era is the 15th Century, the Age of Discovery bringing prosperity to the Portuguese Empire is about to begin. Will Pero be a famous Portuguese sailor like Vasco da Gama or Gaspar Corte-Real or shall he discover new countries like Cristobal Colon also known as Christopher Columbus?

Soon Pedro will meet Prince Henry the Navigator with whom he not only shares a longing to sail the oceans but also a profound belief in the legendary Christian patriarch Prester John. the initial rite into the Order of the Knights is the start of a lifelong friendship for Pero, Salvador Fernandes Zarco en Bartholomeu Dias: indeed, famous names of discoverers. They are trained to navigate caravels, light ships, and for that, they have to learn astrology as well as the natal horoscope, to be able to navigate by the zodiacal constellations and decipher their whereabouts on the ocean by the position of the stars in the sky.

Pero dreams of finding a sea route to the East, to the place where the illustrious Prester John can be found. His language skills make him the perfect person for another assignment of Prince Henry, that will bring him in the company of the (in)famous Isabella of  Castile, who married Ferdinand of Aragon. They call Pero a ratao, a land rat, one who never has been to sea – he is desperate to prove them wrong. Will he ever sail the ocean or find Prester John’s Kingdom?

Somewhere in the distant future, 500 years later, Jaq finds his name on a beam in the ‘Nossa Senhora da Graca’ chapel in Portugal – does it mean Pero did succeed in sailing the oceans? And what brought her to Portugal, or for that matter, why is she interested in cryptic messages 500 years old? Is it still about revenge for the murder of her fiancée, or is she a woman on a desperate and extremely dangerous mission?

My Thoughts

I was swept away by Jaq’s exciting modern-day enterprises and Pero’s many adventures in the Middle Ages. There are intrigues and secrets, famous names from the past we recognise and know will become the explorers we read about in our history books.

Cleverly entwined with the interesting historical facts are the author’s thrilling plots that hint at other motives, possible events to have taken place. The novel is extremely well-written and such a pleasure to read, I loved it!

The historical facts are accurate, the tales around them imaginative and captivating, which makes this extraordinary novel a smashing read! I highly recommend The Virgin of the Wind Rose!

About the Author

Glen Craney Author Image

Glen Craney studied Law and Journalism and has won multiple prizes, among which the Nicholl Fellowship Prize for Screenwriting. His books have taken readers to Occitania during the Albigensian Crusade, to the Scotland of Robert Bruce, to Portugal during the Age of Discovery, to the trenches of France during World War I, and to the American Hoovervilles of the Great Depression.

Book Info

 Paperback  406 pages
 Publisher  Brigid’s Fire Press; 1 edition (27 Oct.  2013)
 Language  English
 ISBN-10 0981648428
 ISBN-13 978-0981648422


    • Caroline Vincent

      You are very welcome, Glen. I loved the book, the adventures and the stories woven around the historical facts!

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