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The Seaborne

John Finlay is an engineer escaping from his failed business, relationship and debts. Dermot, pulling a body, barely alive, from the water, has never seen anyone so strangely dressed. His Celtic island knows nothing of debt or engineers. When John wakes among a people who cannot understand him he must accept that is in another time and world.

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(25 customer reviews)


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Seaborne. The word echoes in Dermot’s mind. Washed up from who knows where, with no people to belong to, no clan to speak for him: a man alone in the world. If this man lives, what will he turn out to be? What might he bring among the Islanders?

John had not dreamed that anywhere in the North Atlantic could be this remote. There must be someone, if not here, then not far away, who even if they didn’t speak English would at least recognise it.

John Finlay, engineer, is running away from his failed business, his failed relationship and his debts. He runs away to sea. Dermot, pulling a body, barely alive, from the water, has never seen anyone so strangely dressed. His Celtic island knows nothing of debt or of engineering. And John, waking among a people who cannot understand his language, struggles to accept that he has been carried across time and into another world.

From this starting point, tensions build between cultures and outlooks, and focus on Shinane, the blacksmith’s daughter, who is looking for something beyond. John and Dermot find themselves stretched to their limits. It is a matter of survival, or transformation. Choice is key – and not only for John, Dermot and Shinane: the whole community finds itself caught up in conflict over The Seaborne.

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Wordcatcher Publishing




FICTION / Fantasy / Historical




Wordcatcher Literary Fiction

25 reviews for The Seaborne

  1. Steve Brown

    My partner gave me the book as an unexpected Christmas gift a year ago, after he encountered the author at a book-signing. It took me months to get around to reading it, but I am very glad to have encountered this enriching story: especially now during the time of Covid, when the veil between life and death is thin and we are unusually aware of the impact of the choices we make on those we love and those we are bound to by our shared humanity. Thank you.

  2. Beth Noakes

    A gripping and thoughtful book about a shipwrecked man who is rescued in a different time and world. As he gradually recovers, learns to communicate and to live in this new world, his influence brings challenges to his hosts too. Can they deal with the disruptions he creates in their settled lifestyle? And given the choice, would he return to his old world or make his life here?
    I am greatly looking forward to the sequel.

  3. Author Anthony Aviva’s Blog

    This was such an engaging read. The author does a great job of creating a breathtaking world that draws the reader in and populates it with characters that keep the reader invested throughout. How society has evolved and the ways in which people choose to live are thoroughly showcased throughout the narrative.
    A powerful, memorable, and evenly paced read, author A.G. Rivett has masterfully told a brilliant tale of a man outside of his own time, and the community impacted by his appearance.

  4. Janet Lake

    Well … wow … this book, what can I say? It could be taken as a prophecy of our times right now … landed in unfamiliar territory in another time frame altogether, with the one important question .. what do our hearts really want? And that’s such a big question for humanity as a whole which this pandemic gives us the golden opportunity to ask, if only we have courage enough.
    … I was enthralled from page 1 … loving that moment when I could snuggle down in my bed each evening and take it up again. So it’s accompanied me for a few weeks, and what a time for such an accompaniment! I’m about to lend it to a dear friend…The writer has an amazing gift of language, flow and form… It’s a treasure of a book and one I’ll no doubt be reading over and over.

  5. Dr F Kommoss, Heidelberg, Germany, 7 May

    5 out of 5 stars
    Highly recommended reading – not only for lovers of the North
    Reviewed in Germany on 7 May 2020I recently finished the Seaborne, and I really enjoyed reading it. Lots of Gaelic/Nordic influence there, which gives it a certain beautiful and at the same time rough feel I can somehow relate to having lived in Ireland, visited the British Isles up to the North, and also Iceland. Wouldn’t it be just wonderful to hear from a person from 1000 years back if their lives were really similar to what A.G.Rivett pictured them to be? Were they happier folks than us? Maybe? The hardship must also have been overwhelming oftentimes is what I’d imagine.

  6. Sarah Wilson

    This book has been a most wondrous read and is quite unlike anything I have read before. I was captured and enraptured from the Prologue through to the Epilogue and I felt deeply changed by it.
    Expect a page turner but this is storytelling in the truest deepest sense so this is a slow thoughtful read. One wants to absorb all the vivid descriptions of this strange, new but beautiful land and of the members of this community, their language and culture infused with different ideas.
    Escaping from a personal crisis John Finlay, an engineer heads to Scotland from London and to a fishing boat in the harbour at Mallaig. His body, found half drowned, is washed up on a beach and rescued by island folk, who take him to their village, where he is nursed back to life. Then he becomes aware that the language spoken is completely unknown to him. All is strange to this stranger in their midst and they have never seen anyone dressed like him and something special that he was wearing suggests to them that The Seaborne is well born.
    Naturally the first thing he wants to communicate is his name – John Finlay – they understand Dhion but no-one understands English so he is known as Dhion Ingleeshe. Memories of his past life haunt him as he makes slow and painstaking progress to learn a new language, a new trade and a new culture infused with Celtic, Christian and Shamanic traditions in a close community where life is simple and yet deeply spiritual.
    We do question what kind of world we inhabit as we join Dermot questioning who this stranger is whom he has helped to rescue and whose life will seriously challenge his own.
    John comes to realise that the tensions he has unwittingly caused require him to undergo a test. He must adapt to survive. And through this process finds his way.
    It is all so beautifully written and crafted and I do agree wholeheartedly that it is ‘a parable for our particularly troubled times’ and never more so than now in the strange situation we all find ourselves in with social distancing and ‘lockdown’.
    We have to discover who we are as we adapt to this new simplified way of living and being at home, in order to survive. The journey for us is to go within, as it was ultimately for John Finlay/Dhion Ingleeshe.
    I cannot recommend this book enough.
    22nd April 2020

  7. JoJamilla Parsons

    A beautifully-told and important myth for our time
    Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 5 April 2020
    I have read this book twice, the second time shortly before the coronavirus outbreak of 2020. A character in the story says, “The need of the time calls forth help.” I had felt that this story was one such help at this time of such sorrowful dilemmas and rich possibilities, but now with the virus, I feel this even more so. The story of John or Dhion is told deftly and with depth and beauty; scenes, landscapes and characters are described with economy and an engaging, unusual turn of phrase that often surprised and delighted me. I felt it coaxes us to turn to a simpler, more community-based way of living where there are no or fewer planes in the sky and our lives are forced into simplicity, personal creativity, greater stillness, listening and natural rhythm, and a connectedness with each other and the Sacredness of all. The story explores the drawbacks in the past of a diminished role of women for example, and, through the compassion and wisdom of the central characters, invites us I felt to explore for ourselves how we might take the best of the past and the best of our modern civilisation and forge a new, sustainable future. I highly recommend this book.”

  8. Alpha Sierra Echo

    This book was really easy to read and beautifully written. It cleverly wove a completely believable story into an unbelievable situation. I am not normally a fan of ‘fantasy’ – this story was convincing and clever and so gentle that I slept beautifully after every read, imagining and dreaming of that misty damp green Celtic landscape with those lovely human characters who didn’t have zips and lived such a simple wholesome life. A life that we perhaps in our modern rat race world can only dream of and be transported to in The Seaborne. I have mourned finishing it and can’t wait for a sequel. Thank you AG Rivett, I have to say you write one heck of a riveting book, there, I said it! And it’s true, thank you thank you.

    Posted on amazon.co.uk, 2 March 2020

  9. Anna on The Wood Between the Words

    The idea of this story – accidentally traveling back in time, didn’t really appeal to me. I love Doctor Who, and well-done time travel scripts, but I find that too often bad writing ruins the adventure. That is not the case with this book. This book is beautiful. Rivett’s way with imagery is fantastical. You, the reader, feel as if you were born on the island along side Shinane and Dermot, and yet, you are also alien to its customs and practices much like John. The writing style in this book reads almost like poetry, the mountains and pools call to you like water burbling over stones. I found myself sad when I had to leave the island at the end of the book, because I enjoyed the peace and strength that it lent me.

    It is that same peace and strength that John/Dhion finds on the island which is so enticing to him. Yes, our world is easier, more technologically advanced, and travel is much quicker, but do we take time to celebrate the sky on a winter’s night? Or feel so connected to our land that we would never think of leaving it? There is not an overabundance of stillness in our modern world unless we make it. John is not someone who took the time to make stillness. His whole world was absorbed by his career, so much so, that when it began to crumble he ran away instead of facing his problems and adapting to his new life. John’s landing on the island represents a new life for him. His own life had become so hectic and cold that he needed to start fresh in order to become his true self: Dhion.

    Some of the themes that I really loved while reading this story were: 1) No era or age is better than another, 2) People make life worth living, and 3) You must make your own stillness.

    So first, no era or age is better than another. The first things John really notices about this new world he has landed in, is how difficult everything is. The technological advances that this people have made are small compared to his modern world. When there is sickness, people die, children and adults alike. Surviving takes all your energy, this is no time for recreation. And yet, these people are happy. They enjoy the closeness they feel with their community, and the lack of distractions and conflict that higher technology might bring. While our world has modern medicine, and machines that make life so much easier, we tend to be less attached to people around us, failing to make meaningful connections.

    Second, People make life worth living. I feel that I’ve already touched on this, but I would like to reemphasize this point. Dhion’s soul was dying inside of him because of his inability to love well enough. Do you want your soul to die inside of you? Do you? Would you rather live as a shell encased in technology, than take the time to love? I think that in the world, and especially in the United States (I’m from Oregon) we tend to make our jobs our entire life. We work so often and for so long, that once we retire some people don’t know who they are. They realize that their work was so encompassing in their life that they made no hobbies, or had no time for friends. That is no way to live.

    Which brings us to number three, you must make your own stillness. The world isn’t gonna give you a break to take a walk and look at the blossoms. Industry isn’t going to pause so that you can appreciate the beauty of the world around you. You must actively stop and live outside your career. The Head and The Heart have a song about this called “Let’s Be Still” go give it a listen.

    This book is fantastic. Truly a beautiful historical fiction work of art. I don’t know if you’ve read any of Stephen Lawhead’s books, but this is on par with them, and better than any Philippa Gregory. I would definitely recommend this book to any fans of ancient Britain, or historical fiction.

  10. S. Howell

    This is ‘slow’ reading at its best – a gentle and sensitive perspective on our 21st century life through the eyes of a reluctant traveller, who finds himself thrown into what seems at first sight a more primitive world. As he explores this new environment and culture, the reader joins him on his voyage to an evolving understanding and appreciation of his new-found society and fresh insights into his old. While its technological development may be inferior, the depth of its community and relationships provides ample compensation. At last, he is forced to choose – where is he most alive? Where is home?
    The Seaborne speaks to the reader on many levels and can be enjoyed by any age-group.
    A G Rivett’s writing consistently sparkles and is equally at home with acute descriptions and poetic meditation. This is one reader who thoroughly enjoyed the journey.

  11. Nicola Aven

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. A beautifully written and thought provoking story, rich in meaning. I cared deeply what happened to the people and their culture. Can’t wait for the sequel!
    Amazon review 14 February 2020

  12. Amazon Customer

    I loved this book; a real page-turner! It’s beautifully written, well-paced, and evokes an ancient culture rooted in the land and close community. Inspiring, informative, and a pleasure to read.
    13 January 2020

  13. Amazon Customer

    A Myth for Our Times
    This beautifully written myth speaks to our deep inner wisdom, and calls us to return to the ancient ways of knowing that don’t look to externals for answers. It returns the reader to a deep relationship with the land, the elements and the connection with all that is. It is through these connections that a life can be truly seen. The protagonist is removed from all the distractions of modern life, returned to a time when humans live more simply. The measured pace of unfolding story invites self-reflection. As we walk with Dhion through his self-discovery, we’re are likely to hear a whisper in the air around us, “Are you living the life you are meant to live?” Highly recommended.
    8 January 2020

  14. Michael Jones

    Great Debut Novel
    Two worlds are brought together in this debut novel. The world in which we live with all the planetary problems which pervade at present and a world long forgotten but on which Spiritual values prevail to a greater degree.and life is much simpler although still governed by a benevolent authority. Characterization of the representatives of both worlds in this story is very well told . The final denoument relates very closely to the problems faced by Pontius Pilate at the trial of Jesus. A thoroughly good read. Well done
    on Waterstones, 17th December 2019

  15. Barbara S

    A Good Read
    I thoroughly enjoyed this well written book particularly the exploration of life now and then and what happens when the two worlds come face to face. I am recommending the book to other people.
    Amazon Review, 9 December 2019

  16. Chrisanthe Georgiou

    A Great Read!
    I loved it. I read slowly at first to savour all the various threads, and then I couldn’t put it down!
    Can’t wait for the sequel!
    Amazon review, 1 February 2020

  17. Brooksby

    A Contemporary Mirror
    This book THE SEABORNE is an inspired imagination of ancient Celtic culture in a parallel time context with our own civilization. The genius of the story is the prescient reflection of the themes of our present time through the consciousness of the main character John Finlay in his attempt to escape the failures of his life, and the challenges he faces outside of his own timeline and culture. This sets up a tension of values which reverberates through the story, creating a mirror of our present.
    This is a story which demands a sequel…, Amazon review, 24 January 2020

  18. Fiona D

    Recommended. A great story, filled with meaning.

    Not only is this a great and really atmospheric story, there’s food for thought here too. I love novels that are both a good read and spiritually enriching (but without any preaching at all! 🙂
    Amazon review, 17 January 2020

  19. Jane Rogers

    Its 3am and I have been kept up by this book – a compelling read! Beautifully crafted, evocative and a gently gripping storyline that grows as you read. The main character develops into a man whom I felt I really got to know, and made me question how I would manage myself, if something like this happened to me. The images the author has created in my mind make me feel like I am also part of this community. That’s quite a skill, and I look forward to the next book.
    Goodreads review, Dec 30 2019

  20. P.D.N.

    If you awoke one day to find yourself part of a remote island community, centuries in the past, and you had the knowledge at your disposal to change their ancient world for what you perceived to be for the better, would you? …this superbly and beautifully crafted story transports the reader into the mystical medieval world of Celtic spirituality. The author’s love and intimate knowledge of the Scottish landscape infuses the text. He makes apparent the importance of the hills and mountains, water, the sun and the moon to the everyday lives of his characters… Biblical parallels and symbolism abound in this tale, which give it its power to move, to enthral, and potentially challenge and change the inner world of its reader.
    Buy this book! But be forewarned: choose carefully a time to read it lest you find yourself compulsively absorbed, reading it into the early hours of the morning, utterly incapable of putting it down.
    Amazon review, 24 December 2019

  21. violet elizabeth grayson

    A Better World
    A. G. Rivett’s beautifully written novel, The Seaborne, transports the reader, and its protagonist, to a remote island in a mystical Celtic past. Can a simpler world with fewer creature comforts but a stronger sense of community, be better than the rat race of contemporary urban life where money can buy anything but one does not know one’s neighbour? The Seaborne must choose. Highly recommended.
    Amazon review, December 1, 2019

  22. Maggie H

    A man runs away from his debts and failed relationship and is washed up on a remote island. Is he is still in this world or has he somehow entered an alternative reality? Will find his way back – or, in the end, even want to? This book is beautifully written, creating the place and its people in precise and poetic detail, and made me wonder what it would be like to live in such a place, without technology and underpinned by a belief in a very present spiritual reality. It’s an intriguing and absorbing read and I look forward to reading the next book.

  23. Richard Danckwerts

    Multiple worlds proliferate in fiction these days and the time-shift fantasy is virtually a genre of its own, but it is notoriously difficult to create an internally consistent and convincing alternative universe, something that I think Rivett has achieved magnificently. The world that he describes is both like and unlike our own, harsh and materially impoverished, but infused with a deep sense of spirituality.
    Amazon review, 29 November 2019

  24. Dr. D. Morris

    A deep and moving book. Just wonderful. Wholeheartedly recommend this book and I hope the author writes more. Thank you.
    Amazon review, 8 November 2019

  25. Damian Walford Davies

    A novel of Celtic quantum time that asks us to consider the ways in which we are all born strangers, seaborne foundlings, living between worlds. A parable for our particularly torn times.

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Some readers have asked for help with pronunciation. English-speaking readers with knowledge of the native Celtic languages will mostly have little difficulty, but for those without, here are some approximations within the limitations of sounds made in English, bearing in mind that the Celtic languages employ gutturals not used in English.

Consonants followed by h are lenited forms, and change their sound as follows:

Island speech English
bh v as in vote
ch ch as in loch, not as in char
dh h
gh silent, as in bough
lh a slightly breathier l
mh v as in vote
nh a slightly breathier n
ph as in phone
th as in the, not as in thought


Feminine names ending –ane (Shinane, Coghlane) are transliterated into English with a silent final e; those who can write on the Island would spell them Sinaen, Coghlaen. Otherwise, a final e is pronounced, as a quietly gutteral eh.

Here are a few names and other words rendered into their closest English pronunciation.

Island speech Approximate English equivalent
A’Dhael AHale
Coghlane Colane
Dhion Hyorn
Leine (sing) Lenneh
Leinte (plural) Lenteh
Ma’Bhenrish MaVenrish
Murdogh Moordough
Padragh Padra’  (short a in final syllable)
Paelht (sing) Pahlsht
Paelchte (plural) Pahlchteh
Tearlach Cheerlach (final ch as in loch)

A few words of the Island tongue are used throughout the text. Mostly, their meaning quickly becomes clear from context, but ‘paelht’ is eventually explained to John by Hugh. For readers, having to work out the meanings of the words for yourselves, or having to wait for an explanation, gives a small taste of the experience John is living through.

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