Review: The Castilian Pomegranate by Anna Belfrage
I'm so thrilled to share my review of a wonderful novel: The Castilian Pomegranate by Anna Belfrage.
My thanks goes to The Coffee Pot Book Club and the author for a copy.
I was very excited when I heard about this novel, as I met the main protagonists, Noor and Robert, before, in His Castilian Hawk. I loved their first story, and now their fascinating journey continues...
The Castilian Pomegranate
The Castilian Saga, Book 2
Historical Fiction / Historical Romance
In this second adventure with Robert and Noor, we travel to medieval Spain – or rather the numerous small kingdoms that made up the peninsular prior to their future unification. But the beautiful, sumptuous setting is overshadowed by petty warfares, jealousies, and ambition.
The couple travel across the kingdoms to the Castilian court, to convey a message from Queen Eleanor of England. But the real task the queen set Noor was not put in writing: to abandon the boy, Lionel, whose secret the queen shares. Lionel's father was the last legitimate prince of Wales. And his life would be forfeit should King Edward hear of it.
But the demand puts Noor into a difficult position. She would never abandon Lionel, instead raising him alongside her own daughter like a son. But that's not Noor's only worry. The queen also demanded that Noor brings her the Castilian Pomegranate – an incredible jewel in the hands of a feisty dowager who keeps it locked up securely when she doesn't wear it. If Noor were discovered stealing it, her own life would be over. In the meantime, they remain exiled.
Along the way, Noor finds herself abducted; her husband maimed; and burdened with characters she'd rather be without. Petronilla is particularly challenging when trying to free her intended, Fernand, ordered into Robert's service and wanted dead by his stepfather for his inheritance. But these two (who made me laugh out loud at times) are not the only side characters. There is a veritable array of kings and nobles vying for your attention.
As their journey continues, and Robert is pulled in to join warfare between the kingdoms, Noor's life becomes more and more entwined in intrigues. Desperate to return home to England, but aware of her responsibility – and her love – for the boy, Lionel, she remains torn. There does not seem to be a way out of her predicament, and we feel her pain in being forced to have to choose...
I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but suffice to say, there are plenty of twists and turns, with plenty of challenges for our protagonists. The setting is exquisite, and Ms Belfrage's research is impeccable. We are thrown into a world of beauty, of sun, and warmth, vibrant colours and unusual flavours, but beneath the bright surface lurk threats and division as each king (and the pope!) vies for more power and land.
The political situation of the time was fast-changing, and it's at times tricky to follow the many names, especially when they are the same or similar. But you still have a fair idea of who is who, and their roles. As a result, I started to read up about it all and found lots of real intrigues, some of which Ms Belfrage weaves neatly into the riveting plot.
As for Noor and Robert, we see a progression in their relationship. I found it realistic, and it fits well within its intended time, and the challenges to their happiness that they have to face. Exiled from their home, their loyalty questioned, torn apart, they make the most out of a difficult situation. I really liked the way they developed in this story.
The Castilian Pomegranate is a wonderful read, full of a rich vision of medieval Spanish kingdoms, the melting pot where east meets west, with Christians living side by side with Jews and Moors, albeit in different quarters. I found Ms Belfrage's references to women's clothing in particular fascinating. It was something I hadn't known about. This novel is full of interesting factual details, deftly woven into a gripping adventure. Historical fiction at its best.
His Castilian Hawk was one of my favourite reads in 2020. It is therefore not surprising that The Castilian Pomegranate is on my personal ’best reads' list for 2021. A highly recommended novel!
Blurb:An enraged and grieving queen commands them to retrieve her exquisite jewel and abandon their foundling brat overseas—or never return.
Robert FitzStephan and his wife, Noor, have been temporarily exiled. Officially, they are to travel to the courts of Aragon and Castile as emissaries of Queen Eleanor of England. Unofficially, the queen demands two things: that they abandon Lionel, their foster son, in foreign lands and that they bring back a precious jewel – the Castilian Pomegranate.
Noor would rather chop off a foot than leave Lionel in a foreign land—especially as he’s been entrusted to her by his dead father, the last true prince of Wales. And as to the jewel, stealing it would mean immediate execution. . .
Spain in 1285 is a complicated place. France has launched a crusade against Aragon and soon enough Robert is embroiled in the conflict, standing side by side with their Aragonese hosts.
Once in Castile, it is the fearsome Moors that must be fought, with Robert facing weeks separated from his young wife, a wife who is enthralled by the Castilian court—and a particular Castilian gallant.
Jealousy, betrayal and a thirst for revenge plunge Noor and Robert into life-threatening danger.
Will they emerge unscathed or will savage but beautiful Castile leave them permanently scarred and damaged?
Sexual content, violence
This novel is available on #KindleUnlimited.
Universal Link: http://myBook.to/POMEGRANATE
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09FP655ZH
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09FP655ZH
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09FP655ZH
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B09FP655ZH
About the Author:
Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
Anna has also published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients.
The Castilian Pomegranate is the second in her “Castilian” series, a stand-alone sequel to her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain, a world of intrigue and back-stabbing.
Her most recent release prior to The Castilian Pomegranate is The Whirlpools of Time in which she returns to the world of time travel. Join Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveller Erin on their adventures through the Scottish Highlands just as the first Jacobite rebellion is about to explode!
All of Anna’s books have been awarded the IndieBRAG Medallion, she has several Historical Novel Society Editor’s Choices, and one of her books won the HNS Indie Award in 2015. She is also the proud recipient of various Reader’s Favorite medals as well as having won various Gold, Silver and Bronze Coffee Pot Book Club awards.
Connect with Anna:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anna-Belfrage/e/B008C89JB8