The Castilian Pomegranate

The Castilian Saga Book 2

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
Kindle Edition
Reviewed on 10/02/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Castilian Pomegranate is a work of historical fiction penned by author Anna Belfrage. The work forms the second book of The Castilian Saga and is written for the mature adult reading audience owing to the presence of sexual situations and graphic violence appropriate to the brutality of the time. In the thirteen century, we find ourselves back with Robert FitzStephan and his wife, Noor, where they have been tasked with an impossible, heart-wrenching chore. The couple has been asked to abandon their foster son Lionel while overseas and to recover a precious jewel – the titular Castilian Pomegranate – but both of these tasks have their own sets of danger and resistance.

Author Anna Belfrage packs a lot into this immersive and engaging historical novel. Yet, it also seemed to fly by in a flurry of excitement because it was so easy to read. The historical details of the work were finely tuned and cinematically descriptive, giving a wonderful sensory feel to the experiences of our central characters. I enjoyed Noor’s energy and fierce nature very much in a new land with new encounters, but I also felt for her deeply when she was put to the test. I also enjoyed the overtones of the period itself, nuanced as it was with the political climate, cultural tensions, and power struggles of the day. This makes for a compelling and believable read with real people who you care for deeply by the novel’s conclusion. Overall, I would highly recommend The Castilian Pomegranate for fans of exciting historical adventure, romance, and drama who are keen to encounter a talented writer and a standout series.

Teresa Syms

Robert FitzStephan and Noor, his wife, are emissaries of Queen Eleanor of England in this epic story of jealousy, betrayal, and intrigue. They have been exiled to the courts of Aragon. Noor’s mission is to steal the Castilian Pomegranate, a precious jewel said to have incredible powers of protection for women during child-bearing years. The second reason for their exile is Lionel, their foster son. Lionel is the son of the rebellious Prince of Wales and is seen as a threat to the Crown of England. Anna Belfrage has penned this historical fiction novel taking the reader into Spain in 1285. FitzStephan and Noor are caught up in the battles between Spain, France, the Christians, and Moors. Noor is of noble blood, but Robert is low-born and struggles to find his place in the courts of Aragon and Castile. His place is on the bloody battlefields doing the bidding of the kings and queens of Spain. Will they survive the danger and be allowed to return to their homeland with their family?

Anna Belfrage’s The Castilian Pomegranate relates a story of true love, intrigue, deception, and hard-fought battles in Spain during 1285. Belfrage has created an excellent story that the reader will find difficult to put down. The exceptional character development gives readers the ability to visualize the characters as if standing in front of them. Also, the reader will have a taste of life in the battle-torn country of Spain under the control of many rulers and religions. The reader will find themselves cheering on their heroes as they experience torture, poisoning, and separation. Will Robert and Noor survive, will their love endure, and will Eleanor, Queen of England, allow them to return to their homeland? Bravo to Belfrage for this epic story. This reader looks forward to the next book in the Castilian saga.

Jennifer Ibiam

Lady Noor was the daughter of Sancha, the royal bastard. She had sizeable wealth and was married to Sir Robert, a warrior who had almost nothing. The couple was exiled from England by Queen Eleanor for two reasons; give up their foster son and bring back the Castilian Pomegranate. Unfortunately, those were huge tasks because Lionel was entrusted to the couple by his father, the last Prince of Wales, and an arch-enemy of Eleanor's husband, King Edward. Also, the Castilian Pomegranate was a treasured jewel way beyond their reach. But they went from England through Aragon to Castile. On this journey, they will fight battles that aren't theirs, be ensnared by the world's beauty, and their love will be tested. The Castilian Pomegranate by Anna Belfrage has the details.

The Castilian Pomegranate by Anna Belfrage is an interesting historical romance novel set in medieval times. It explores themes like royal politics, power, deception, battles, loyalty, honor, and duty. The book also sprinkles elements of romance that offer a necessary balance. I loved the plot as it had depth and was unique. The storyline was intense and realistic. Anna developed strong female characters who could hold their own, whether they were quiet or outspoken. Queen Maria, Queen Constanta, Yolande, and Noor were my favorite women in the book. They had backbone while being gracious. My heart broke for Fernand, as he was someone I hated to love. How could anyone stand Petronilla? She was a stressful character. For a book with a medieval flavor, it was easy to comprehend. Well done, Anna!

Vincent Dublado

The Castilian Pomegranate by Anna Belfrage is the second book in The Castilian Saga. In a time of crusades, expansion, and monarchical instability, Robert FitzStephan and his wife Noor are temporarily exiled. They travel to the courts of Aragon and Castile on behalf of Queen Eleanor of England. But what Eleanor truly wants is for the couple to accomplish two things: to abandon their foster son, Lionel, in a foreign land and to retrieve a precious jewel, the Castilian Pomegranate. Lionel has royal lineage, entrusted into Noor’s care by Lionel’s real father, Dafydd ap Gruffydd—the last Prince of Wales. The jewel is believed to hold the miraculous property of making birthing easier for a woman. Eleanor finds it difficult to conceive another child despite her best efforts, but stealing the jewel would mean execution for her two emissaries.

The Castilian Pomegranate works with a breathtakingly beautiful and brutal narrative that pulls you into its era with compelling imagery. Eleanor is a richly wicked and villainous queen who possesses insecurities, making her thrilling to read about. Anna Belfrage doesn’t have any trouble weaving together a complex array of characters that don’t wander off from the storyline. Her chosen period gives her characters a pervasive sense of urgency to act, which keeps the story moving with a cohesive force. Many of the scenes, even simple conversations, pulsate with life. All the motivations presented here are very clear: from preservation to loyalty. It is an inspirational historical fiction novel that never stops delivering intrigue. It is a story that lingers in your memory, one that you would not hesitate to recommend, as I do right now.

Grant Leishman

The Castilian Pomegranate (The Castilian Saga Book 2) by Anna Belfrage is part of a series that I believe will eventually be a trilogy. Set in thirteenth-century Europe, specifically in modern-day Spain, Robert FitzStephan, a celebrated English man-at-arms, and his beautiful wife Noor have been tasked with a seemingly impossible mission by a furious English queen. Sent as emissaries of the queen, officially, they are to deliver missives to the queen’s relatives in the courts of Aragon and Castile. More importantly, though, they are charged with finding and returning to her a fabled jewel known as The Castilian Pomegranate, plus they are to abandon their young foster child, Lionel, somewhere on their journey.

I was fortunate enough to read the first book in this series, but I can assure you it is not a necessity, as author Anna Belfrage does a superb job of setting the scene for The Castilian Pomegranate in this iteration of the tale. Belfrage is a master at creating fictional characters to populate her stories built around documented historical periods and happenings that she has clearly researched well. Her writing style is character-driven and powerful without diminishing the nature of the time and the horrific violence and gruesome death that was part of history. I particularly enjoyed the dilemma faced by Noor as she encountered a world far more fascinating and interesting than the one she was previously exposed to as the wife of a man-at-arms. The naivety she displayed in the royal court was a wonderful counterpoint to the usual Noor that we have grown to love over this series and was all the more poignant for that. There are plenty of brutal scenes for the action junkies in the readership. Still, these are beautifully balanced by the romance, the camaraderie, and the brotherhood of this band of fighting men. Book two in this series is an absolute triumph, and now, as a dedicated Robert, Noor, and Belfrage fan, I await the upcoming book three with excitement and bated breath.