Lilian Gafni’s Flower from Castile Trilogy begins as the Conversos—converted Jews—in Spain face torture and expulsion at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition. King and Queen struggle to keep the coffers filled while financing religious war. Meanwhile Moorish leaders hold onto Alhambra and their small remaining territories. Politicians bargain for hope and a future, noblemen rush to war, and a young woman whose past might not be as simple as she thought finds her world falling apart.
The history’s well-researched and filled with fascinating, sometimes gruesome detail. The story of the Jews is tragic, one all too often repeated over time. And life in both Moorish and Christian Spain is convincingly depicted with intriguing detail and complexity, forming a rich backdrop to the author’s tale.
Initial chapters veer between different characters and worlds but slowly come together as connections are revealed. Strongest in its depiction of political detail, this novel moves between romance, action and suspense as a long year passes in the lives of people both ordinary and famous, rich and poor, powerful and weak. By the final battles, armies shine in the sun like well-painted pieces on a complex board, advancing and retreating to the call of history. Meanwhile Columbus awaits his chance to sail for the Promised Land—a dream that we’ll perhaps see more of as the trilogy progresses.
While political motivations are clear and well-explained, the motivations of the heart are a little harder to understand in this long, complex tale. But the period of history is filled with fascination for many, and the story supplies endless fascination in its well-told detail and well-researched facts.
Disclosure: I was given this novel as a gift and offer my honest review.
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About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth (SheilaDeeth)
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
"A young woman learns a secret about her past while Columbus plots to explore the world in this historical novel set during the Spanish Inquisition. Isabella, a young noblewoman in Castile, is soon to marry her love when she is kidnapped and thrust into the world of persecuted Jews. She learns that her parents weren’t really the Catholic nobles who raised her. Her captors hide her in the harem of a Moorish king. Meanwhile, a young rebel called Miguel Costa fights for religious freedom, and Christopher Columbus plots to convince Queen Isabella, who is focused on ridding her domain of Moors, to support his worldly explorations. Gafni’s understanding of the time period seems paramount, and her plot is solid. Isabella’s movement between different cultures allows readers to explore what it was like to be a Catholic, Jew or Moor during one of history’s darkest periods." ~Kirkus Indie Reviews