Xaghra’s Revenge

An outline of a historical fantasy.


The world’s most ancient building is on Gozo (Ggantija temple at Xaghra, (c. 3600-2500 BC predates Stonehenge and the pyramids).

In 1551 the Turkish buccaneer, Rais Dragut, sailed a pirate fleet to Gozo and abducted the entire population of 5000, except a few elderly people, and sailed them to North Africa.

The abducted were kept on the ships while Dragut won a siege against the Knights of St John at Tripoli. The surviving abducted were taken and sold into slavery probably at Constantinople, Tripoli and Tarhuna, Libya.

Some of the abducted had relatives on Malta sufficiently rich to buy them back, but most lost contact with their families.

Descendents of the original abductees live in the Libyan town of Tarhuna.


A man (Reece Inguanez-de-Ragu*) and woman (Zita Feratti) meet in contemporary Lyon, and become lovers.

After an idyllic few weeks, they both have disturbing nightmares in addition to inexplicable flashes of terror. (these are the manifestation of spirits from the terrible actions of their ancestors in 1551) The couple cannot believe the nightmares are significant but have doubts. Complications arise from a former fiancee of Reece.

Their meeting has created a rift in normality that unleashes the fantasy element – demon spirits.
Reece’s family name contains the word Dragut.

Zita is left some papers by a dying relative. They are C16th deeds for property on Gozo.
Zita researches what happens on Gozo and is incensed. She seeks revenge on behalf of “her people”.
The reader assumes, because of their names and the deeds that Reece Inguanez-de-Ragu is descended from Rais Dragut while Zita is related to a Gozo abducted but it is the other way around though this revelation comes late on.

Zita plans a self-righteous campaign against the man and his family. He doesn’t realise what is going on or why for weeks. His property is destroyed.. People get hurt and some die. Zita seems possessed with a bloodlust.

Reece discovers her research and does some of his own. He is sent (not just a coincidence) by his Agency to Tarhuna in Libya, where he realises he is descended from one of the abducted whose descendent was obliged to carry Dragut’s name (maybe so as not to forget the catastrophe.) He is given a crystal, which is a talisman, by a discovered relative in Libya.

Their ancestors’ stories are also told as one becomes a slave and the other struggles with the Gozo spirits.

Endgame: When back in 1565 Dragut masterplans the seige of Malta, he loses when the ancient spirits having worked by bringing Reece and Zita together in the future (our present) take their revenge on the Barbary corsairs.

This summary is apt to be flexible.

Sidenote: Writers need retreats. One of the best I’ve found on Malta is the Preluna Hotel in Sliema. Mrs N and myself have spent many weeks there on the coast, being inspired by the history and coastal scenery. To be recommended.

Some photographs of Gozo I took on a field trip here:


© all images taken by Geoff Nelder 2005 — they may be copied with my blessing as long as credit is given

Pre-publication Review by novelist Gladys Hobson


A magic realism / historical fantasy by Geoff Nelder


Mid 16th Century Gozo, where the world’s most ancient building — the Gigantia temple at Xaghra — dwells in ruins, is the scene for the most outrageous episode in the history of Turkish buccaneering. Other than a few useless wrinklies, the entire population of Gozo, 5,000 men, women and children were carried off and kept onboard while Rais Dragut won a siege against the Knights of St John at Tripoli. The survivors were sold into slavery.


Nelder, in his unique style, uses this historical fact, and vivid magical Mediterranean settings, to weave his compelling contemporary fantasy, drawing the past into the present with mind-boggling paranormal happenings, his characters’ extrasensory perceptions, downright horror and kinky humour. Magic and mystery? More than that!


Murder, rape and mayhem! The story’s dramatic beginning takes place in the mid 16th Century Gozo, the three dimensional cast includes a Christian couple (Stjepan and Lydia), their infant Peter, Turkish buccaneers and Barbary corsair Rais Dragut. And importantly — the finding of a piece of stone bearing the likeness of a local ancient goddess.


Then in a change of scene, we are thrust into more familiar territory of Europe in the 21sst Century. Somewhat fickle-lover Reece is thrown (literally) into a relationship with a feisty, gorgeous damsel with nut-brown hair. But who is doing the pushing and matchmaking? Is Reece the secret agent he claims to be, in spite of his bumbling? What is the mystery concerning the sexy, boutique owner, Zita? Both of the partners with ancient bloodlines of Mediterranean origins.


It is a mistake to think the obvious, Nelder is too clever for that. Intrigue, fantasy, sexual encounters create literary magic, and transport us back and forth through time, holding the reader’s attention until the final END.


A thoroughly enjoyable read.


Gladys Hobson

Author of:

When Phones Were Immobile and Lived in Red Boxes.

Blazing Embers.

When Angels Lie.


Seduction By Design.

Checkmate (in preparation)

Still Waters Run Deep, stories of hidden depths.

And other works.

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