Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Granada Gold by SA Carney

Book Blurb

Armageddon falls on my twelfth birthday:  I see my Christian parents conquer Moorish Granada. I am Juana Trastamara, part-English, heiress of the Alhambra, and future troubled Queen of Spain.

Granada Gold is based on the true story of young Juana Trastamara. During the Granada War, she befriends Lord Edmund Sales, commander of the English longbow archers fighting for Christian Spain. In 1492, Juana’s parents – Queen Isabel and King Fernando – defeat the Moors, expel the Jews, and send Columbus sailing across the Atlantic. These events shatter her tight-knit family. 

Rich with Moorish gold, the Trastamaras confront their deadly rivals, the Habsburgs. Juana’s arranged marriage to the womanising Habsburg duke, ‘Phillipe the Handsome’, is a personal disaster. Trapped in an increasingly abusive marriage, Juana has only one place to turn: England. Through Lord Sales, Juana meets Tudor King Henry VII, who falls deeply in love with her. The stage is set for international royal passion, betrayal, and death. 

Based on real historical characters, Granada Gold takes readers inside the world of the legendary Alhambra palace. SA Carney – an investigative historian – reveals newly-discovered twists in the Trastamara-Tudor-Habsburg family saga.

My Review

With its stunning cover, Granada Gold definitely caught my attention. It is a biographical fiction novel about Queen Juana, the daughter of King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile. There are vivid descriptions of the Alhambra and daily life in 15thcentury Spain that I found intriguing. It was a tumultuous period in history where Granada was ruled by Juana’s Christian parents who became famous for not only expelling Jews, but also for funding the voyages of Christopher Columbus.

I sometimes found myself wishing for the story to move forward at a faster pace. From my own knowledge of this time in history, when Juana married Philip of France, she truly did suffer through a difficult marriage. I felt the author perhaps focused too much attention on her love for Lord Sales and her time before the marriage rather than dwelling on the more conflicted period of Juana’s life. Could it be because there is a sequel in the works that will continue the story?

Although the story does pick up speed during the last third, I think it will succeed more if marketed in the young adult category. All in all, Granada Gold is a very detailed accounting of Juana’s early life that sheds clarity on the political and religious climate of the times and the sense of excitement and adventure that gripped Spain with the discovery of the new world.

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