30 September 2021

Special Guest Post by Anna Belfrage, Author of The Castilian Pomegranate (The Castilian Saga Book 2)

Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

An enraged and grieving queen commands them to retrieve her exquisite jewel and abandon their foundling brat overseas—or never return.

Through the dusty roads of medieval Spain—a new release!

Many years ago, I studied Spanish at university. While I was no major fan of all the grammar (superfluous, IMO, as I was a fluent speaker) I absolutely adored all the reading of novels and old cantares – Spain has a number of medieval stories that have somehow made their way down to our time. Plus, Spain has a very complicated history—especially in medieval times, when the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon went head to head over which was the more important and powerful on the peninsula. (They generally discounted Portugal, and this was after the Christian kingdoms had begun to reclaim land from the Moors who, at one point, more or less controlled all of Spain). 

These days, I rarely lose myself in texts about subjunctive or imperative—but I can still quote you verbatim when and how you should use them. That’s what you get when your mother was a language teacher who firmly believed you had to know your grammar, no matter how fluent you were in the language. Ugh. 

No, these days, I prefer to read about the colourful history of Spain, and it was therefore a very agreeable surprise when Queen Eleanor of England decided to exile my protagonists by sending them off on a quest to her old homeland, Castile.

Yes, yes: I can see some of you raising your eyebrows at the agreeable surprise part, but I kid you not: I had no idea Queen Eleanor would do that—until she did. That’s what often happens to me while writing: my characters take on so much life that suddenly it is them controlling the narrative, not me. At times, I must resort to substantial fore to shoehorn them back on track, and there have been instances when *throws a quick look over her shoulder and lowers her voice* I’ve had to kill them off because they’re obstructive.

Obviously, I can’t kill off a IRL character like Queen Eleanor. (“No?” Noor asks, throwing said queen a black look. “How unfortunate.”) Which is why Robert FitzStephan and his wife Noor have no choice but to ride off as ordered—and you’ve already guessed Noor is less than happy about it.
Now Spain in 1285 was a rather complicated place. 

First of all, there were always some sort of ongoing conflicts: between the Christian states, within the Christian kingdoms, within the sole surviving Muslim Emirate. Now and then, Marinid raiders came over from Africa and attempted to push Muslim interests further. And in 1285 there was some added spice in that France decided to invade Aragon—a venture labelled “crusade” because the pope blessed it. Plus, the situation in Castile was volatile, as the new king, Sancho IV, had effectively usurped the crown from his teenaged nephew, thereby causing a permanent rift with his mother. 

Sancho IV

Noor and Robert will have to tread carefully as they navigate their way through this volatile landscape—even more so as they’ve been tasked with “finding” a precious jewel Queen Eleanor considers belongs to her. Let’s just say no one else agrees with Queen Eleanor on that, which means that to retrieve it, Noor and Robert will have to steal it…

Where Robert finds Castile and Aragon strange places, to Noor it is a bit like finding a missing part of herself. After all, her mother was from Castile and what a marvellous place it is! Where Noor is delighted to speak Castilian, Robert feels excluded. Where she is the relative of the king of Castile, he is a bastard nobody, a man who has nothing but what his wife brought him.
No wonder the tension between them grows, and once it explodes, well who knows what the fallout will be? (I do, obviously. “And me,” Robert says in a dark voice, shifting his shoulders carefully. “And me,” Noor adds, looking so ashamed I almost feel sorry for her.)

So: I give you The Castilian Pomegranate and invite you to accompany me all the way to medieval Spain, to lands riven by war and strife, to a world where brothers betray brothers, where elegant courtiers woo ladies with song and dance while somewhere further away the knights of Castile clash yet again in deadly battle against the Moors. 

Anna Belfrage

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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. Her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk, has her returning to medieval times. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. Her most recent release, The Whirlpools of Time, is a time travel romance set against the backdrop of brewing rebellion in the Scottish highlands. 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 Find out more about Anna, her books and her eclectic historical blog on her website, www.annabelfrage.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @abelfrageauthor

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