Sunday, 6 February 2011
Sultana by Lisa Yarde
In thirteenth-century Moorish Spain, the realm of Granada is in crisis. The union of Fatima, granddaughter of the Sultan of Granada, with the Sultan’s nephew Faraj has fractured the nation. A bitter civil war escalates and endangers both Fatima and Faraj’s lives.
All her life, Fatima has sheltered in lavish palaces where danger has never intruded, until now. A precocious child and the unwitting pawn of her family, she soon learns how her marriage may determine her future and the fate of Granada. Her husband Faraj has his own qualms about their union. At a young age, he witnessed the deaths of his parents and discovered how affluence and power offers little protection against indomitable enemies. Guilt and fears plague him. Determined to carve his own destiny, Faraj struggles to regain his lost inheritance and avenge his murdered family.
Throughout the rugged frontiers of southern Spain, the burgeoning Christian kingdoms in the north and the desert states of North Africa, Fatima and Faraj survive ruthless murderers and intrigues. They unite against common enemies bent on destroying the last Moorish dynasty. While Fatima and Faraj establish a powerful bond, the atmosphere of deceit creates opportunities for mistrust and tests their love.
I agreed to help Lisa critique this novel, although the genre isn't one I would normally have chosen. However, two chapters in and the author had me completely hooked with her beautiful writing, and her well researched detail of how the last Muslim family to rule Spain lived, loved and fought. The way she takes the reader into their personal and political lives in the Alhambra Palace will touch your heart.
I know the author has been working on this book for years and it certainly shows in it's intricate detail and the emotion she has brought to her characters. Even if Medieval Spain is not a time you would normally read about, I guarantee the love between Fatima and Faraj will change your mind.