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Readers of Beyond Crystal Castles, the first in the series of Brendan tales, will remember Thomas, a young novice of an Irish abbey who follows and chronicles the adventures of a renegade monk, the Mad St. Brendan. Brendan is seeking a northern route to the land known today as the Americas. Chapter one opens with Brosius, Thomas's strong right arm, entertaining his pupils in the city of Cahokia, the ruins of which exist even today along the Mississippi River near St. Louis. Brosius recounts the dangers and beauty of the northern seas they crossed from Ireland and the harrowing journey in their ox hide curragh to the beaches and rivers of the rugged shores of the land that would be named Nova Scotia. The entire crew is captured and enslaved by the treacherous Alnanbal Indians of the St. Lawrence River. Fate and fortune sets a stage for Thomas's rise to power in the Mississippi River city of Cahokia. Thomas plays a key role in the power struggles of this empire located in the Mississippi Valley, as well as the Toltec capitol of Teotihuacan in modern day Mexico. Their adventures are set against a backdrop of the brilliant colors of the most advanced culture of 6th century Middle America and the riotous, golden civilization of the Toltec Empire. Woven into the tapestry of Thomas's adventures is the mad, power-hungry St. Brendan. Stripped bare of the patina of early Church sanctity, he emerges as a complex and flawed being. He is a man who must have power, adulation, and godliness, even at the sacrifice of his followers. Brendan has fallen under the devastating intoxication of the native drug, coca. His charismatic personality has drawn the peoples of two empires to him, as a semi-divine reincarnation of the Toltec god Quetzalcoatl. The god was predicted in ancient chronicles to come to earth in the form of a tall white-skinned and bearded man. Brendan became a willing tool in a bloody play, just as greedy nobles were beginning their wars for power. Spurred by his guilt for placing Brendan in a position of dark power, Thomas calls upon his Druid spirits of Filid-sense to bring thunderous forces to assail the coronation of Brendan as the god Quetzalcoatl. As the demented god-man stands atop the Quetzalcoatl temple, he is struck by forces called down by Thomas and topples beneath the crumbling walls of the building. Brendan is trapped for days in temple rubble and broods in his bleak prison, slowly going insane. He must deal with a fall from glory to a dark cavern of despair. His reality becomes the temple stones trapping him. 'I have never before consumed warm, living flesh but I was pleasantly surprised with my first small sample. Carefully reserving skin and bones, I made sure there were tempting tidbits to lure other rats. Hunger is no longer a problem." 'Freedom: The sound of voices seems strange after so many days of silence. As the men enter my throne room, I arrange my tattered furs and gold ornaments, to appear as godlike as possible. It will not do to disappoint those who come to worship before me." Freed from his temple, the threads of Brendan's plans begin to weave a web to ensnare many of the southern peoples. Determined to rule new lands, Mad Brendan joins forces with a Chin princess, ruler of a southern city. Expatriate from China, the brilliant and sensuous Princess Wu challenges Brendan's disdainful attitudes toward women and they cross swords, both in and out of bed. United, so to speak, in a cause they can both agree upon they set forth to capture the mountain cities of the warlike Chimu people. These bloodthirsty warrior-priests have a tool which would open all the southern lands to Brendan's army. They have the power of flight! Thomas and Brosius learn the secrets of sky ships and the dark forces that reside in the Andes Mountains above the coastal city of Nazca. There is a city, Machu Picchu, rumored to be of solid gold and visited by ancient aliens. Sky gods came from the sta