The Spanish Helmet was reviewed in the Saturday Express on the 20th November, 2011. For those of you without access to this paper, the review follows:
The Spanish Helmet
By Greg Scowen
Reviewed by Elizabeth Winter
Take a mysterious Spanish helmet held in Te Papa, a large pohutukawa tree in La Coruna, Spain, which locals believe to be 400 to 500 years old and a 16th century Spanish expedition, and you have the makings of a conspiracy thriller and an alternative history of New Zealand.
Dr Matthew Cameron, professor of history and archaeology, is invited to New Zealand by his friend Warren to endorse an archaeological discovery. He meets his estranged father and discovers he has been researching the theory that the Spanish discovered and populated New Zealand around 1536.
Matt is intrigued by this so he and his new friend Aimee set out to look at possible connected sites around the country and to pick up his father’s research from Nelson. But as they travel New Zealand, who is the Maori following them? And what part does the Department of Cultural Identity and National Information Security Office have in Matt’s investigations?
Fransisco de Hoces and his crew sail from La Coruna in July 1525 in the ship San
Lesmes, part of a Spanish fleet of seven. The San Lesmes loses the rest of the fleet and eventually makes landfall in New Zealand, where the Spaniards explore the coastline and make contact with the Maori.
The modern story is interspersed with the Spanish captain’s journal. In a blending of fact and fiction, as both strands of the book come together, you begin to see
That the author has a plausible plot.
Having heard about the Spanish iron helmet found in Wellington harbour, I was curious to read this novel, and it did not disappoint.
The story sometimes slips into more of a travelogue, but nearer the end more action and a few twists enliven it again.
As a debut adventure novel, set in familiar places, it is a good read. The Spanish expedition, helmet and pohutukawa tree can all be found through Google if you want to read about the facts which form the basis of the novel.