Coffee Pot Book Tour: The Castilian Pomegranate by Anna Belfrage


The Details


Book Title: The Castilian Pomegranate

Series: (The Castilian Saga, Book 2)

Author: Anna Belfrage

Publication Date: 1st October 2021

Publisher: Timelight Press

Page Length: 400 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance



The Blurb


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

Robert FitzStephan and his wife, Noor, have been temporarily exiled. Officially, they are to travel to the courts of Aragon and Castile as emissaries of Queen Eleanor of England. Unofficially, the queen demands two things: that they abandon Lionel, their foster son, in foreign lands and that they bring back a precious jewel the Castilian Pomegranate. 

Noor would rather chop off a foot than leave Lionel in a foreign land—especially as hes been entrusted to her by his dead father, the last true prince of Wales. And as to the jewel, stealing it would mean immediate execution. . . 

Spain in 1285 is a complicated place. France has launched a crusade against Aragon and soon enough Robert is embroiled in the conflict, standing side by side with their Aragonese hosts. 

Once in Castile, it is the fearsome Moors that must be fought, with Robert facing weeks separated from his young wife, a wife who is enthralled by the Castilian court—and a particular Castilian gallant. 

Jealousy, betrayal and a thirst for revenge plunge Noor and Robert into life-threatening danger. 

Will they emerge unscathed or will savage but beautiful Castile leave them permanently scarred and damaged?  

Trigger Warnings:

Sexual content, violence 


Author Bio: 

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. 

The Castilian Pomegranate is the second in her “Castilian” series, a stand-alone sequel to her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love. In The Castilian Pomegranate, we travel with the protagonists to the complex political world of medieval Spain, a world of intrigue and back-stabbing. 

Her most recent release prior to The Castilian Pomegranate is The Whirlpools of Time in which she returns to the world of time travel. Join Duncan and the somewhat reluctant time-traveller Erin on their adventures through the Scottish Highlands just as the first Jacobite rebellion is about to explode! 

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.


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Guest Post by Anna Belfrage


Location, location – or why Sevilla is the primary setting in The Castilian Pomegranate


I first visited Sevilla in 2002. I knew immediately that this city would one day make it into one of my future books. I fell in love with the narrow alleys, the somnolent patios, the burbling fountains. I gawked my way through the Alcazar (the royal palace). 

I have since been back to Sevilla a couple of times. Once in July, which is not an experience I recommend as it was uncomfortably hot. But Sevilla is always Sevilla, and even if I prefer to stay in the truly old parts of the city, there is much more to see than the old medieval quarters. After all, Sevilla has been around since Roman times, cultural layer after cultural layer building the present day city. 

The first time I used Sevilla as a setting was in a book set in the 17th century. A most unfortunate time traveller manages to paint his way back to an old monastery and once in his new time, he cannot find his way back home but must somehow negotiate this new environment. 

In The Castilian Pomegranate, I have returned to Sevilla. It is 1286 and Sevilla has been under Christian control for about four decades. Prior to this, it has been  Muslim city for close to seven centuries. But in the Sevilla of The Castilian pomegranate, the Muslims have been displaced from their previous homes. Instead, the Christian kings granted the Jews some former smaller mosques to convert to synagogues. Not that this indicated a particular tolerance between Christians and Jews. No, it was more a matter of the expanding Christian kingdoms like Castile needing help to rule their new territories and their Jewish subjects were usually well-educated, knew how to write and read—and had lived long enough among the Moors to understand their customs as well. 

Having spent hours exploring the present day sites of my novel – be it the cathedral (where the previously so marvellous medieval grave monuments to Alfonso X, to his father Fernando III and his mother Queen Beatriz have been replaced by somewhat more modern versions seeing as Alfonso X’s great-great-grandson Pedro I of Castile stripped the seated statues of all their jewels to pay for his ultimately futile war efforts) , the Giralda or the Alcazar, it was easy to recreate my setting. The narrow streets and alleys that surround the Alcazar today are pretty much the same as existed back in the thirteenth century, and in places you can still see remains of the wall that surrounded the Judería – the Jewish quarter. Some would say those walls had as their purpose to lock the Jew away—but just as much, they served the purpose of protecting the Jews, as I describe in my novel. 

One of the challenges when painting the past is to strip away the modern aspects of a place. When, some years ago, I was writing about Kenilworth Castle in the early 14th century, I had to turn a blind eye to the remains of John of Gaunt’s rather marvellous medieval hall, seeing as he built it several decades later. Likewise, when recreating the royal palace of Sevilla in the 13th century, I had to carefully erase those parts of this sprawling structure that weren’t there in 1286, like the fabled baths of Maria de Padilla. Fortunately, there are several excellent websites that show you the Alcazar’s buildings by period, so after several hours of twisting and turning pics this way and that I could “rebuild” what was essentially a Moorish palace with some rather heavy-handed additions made by Alfonso X in the immediate aftermath of the conquest of Sevilla in 1248.


PIC 1 Patio_del_Yeso_(Pórtico)._Reales_Alcázares_de_Sevilla  Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported _ author Jose Luis Filpo Caban


Far more tricky was recreating the landscape. Say Spain, and most people think beaches and sea, and yet this is a country dominated by mountains—every which way you look, there are mountains, even when you’re crossing the huge plain known as the central meseta of Castile. There were some good roads—legacy of the Romans a millennia or so prior to the events in my book—but at times travellers were obliged to use narrow paths that climbed steeply up and down forested slopes. An ideal environment for an ambush or two—rather fortunate, seeing my storyline. 

Recreating the mountains was one thing: I read up on flora (and scrapped most of it in my descriptions as it would be dead boring to read, but at least I knew what sort of trees would be growing on those verdant slopes) and pored over maps. But at times, my protagonists ride through cultivated land, and I immediately thought olives, oranges and almonds. And rice. 

I was right about the rice. The region of Valencia had been cultivating rice for generations, their efforts helped along by the excellent irrigation systems put in place by the Romans and further enhanced by the Moors. And yes, olives grew all along the Mediterranean coast. Almonds were cultivated in large orchards and oranges…Aha! That’s where I almost went wrong, because when I think orange, I think of the fruit we eat today, a juicy thing that is hard to peel without ending up with sticky fingers. Such oranges weren’t around in the 13th century. No, the oranges of medieval Spain are what we call a bitter orange—a fruit so bitter it would have your tongue wrinkling in protest. It was used for essences, in perfume, in medical concoctions and, sometimes, as a pickle. But it was never picked off a tree to be consumed as it was. There went that rather touching scene involving oranges and my protagonists…


PIC 2 Harvesting bitter oranges. Figure from folio 16v of the manuscript Latin 9333, a 15th-century copy of the Tacuinum Sanitatis. Bibliothèque nationale de France, held in the Mandragore database of illuminated manuscripts


Today, you can still marvel at the Moorish stonework in the Alcazar of Sevilla. Despite having been around for close to a thousand years, it still looks as ethereal, as graceful, as it must have done when my protagonists first saw it. And once you’ve had your fill of all that beautiful masonry, you can explore the gardens, the gothic additions, the chapel in which Queen Isabel of Castile made her daily (and repeated) devotions to God. 

Sevilla itself—as well as its buildings—stand as a permanent reminder that life goes on, no matter  that people come and go, that cultures change. A thousand years ago, Sevilla rang with the call of the muezzin standing right at the top of the minaret that today is the cathedral’s famous bell tower, La Giralda. Some centuries later, and you could hear the whisper of Jewish prayers from the small synagogues, while the cathedral bells called the Christians to mass and prayer. Yet another few centuries and there were no Jews, no Muslims, Spain having become a fiercely Catholic and rather intolerant country. And yet the traces of those that went before were impossible to fully erase:  those long-gone Moors are still present in architecture, many Spanish culinary delights have Moorish or Jewish roots and certain Spanish words speak of Jewish or Moorish origins. And if you’ve got sufficient imagination, now and then you can see a medieval Moor or Jew flitting like a shadow through the ancient alleys of Sevilla or lounging in a spot of precious shade in the courtyards of the Alcazar.



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  1. Huh: I'd almost forgotten writing this post, and as today is VERY cold up here in Sweden, I feel a sudden desire to visit Sevilla, ASAP. Thank you for hosting me!


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