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Moorish Spain - help!

laurtosky
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Moorish Spain - help!

Post by laurtosky » Tue January 6th, 2009, 12:28 am

My sister and I have been searching for books on Moorish Spain, with no luck! I'd love to start with books set in the later periods at its cultural height. I'm hoping to find something set in or around Alhambra palace (something on Ferdinand and Isabel's lives there would interest me, also). I am also interested in the early Muslim caliphates, but I don't know if I'll be able to find fiction on that subject. Any suggestions? I can't believe how hard it's been to find anything!

Thank you in advance!!

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cw gortner
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Post by cw gortner » Tue January 6th, 2009, 12:35 am

I could recommend several, but they're published in Spain and are in Spanish. I don't know of any English-language hf set in the period, unless it's a book about Isabel and Fernando or their daughters, and that's not really the cultural height of the Moors but rather their decline.

There is a fantasy novel by Guy Gavriel Kay called "The Lions of Al-Assan" that is based on Moorish Spain but set in a fictional world. It's excellent and captures the period, if you can deal with it not actually being hf.

I'll look around and see if I find anything else.
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annis
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Post by annis » Tue January 6th, 2009, 12:39 am

Frank Yerby's novel of early medieval Moorish Spain might be of interest, though it's quite old (originally published in 1956):
"An Odor of Sanctity"

Guy Gavriel Kay has written a historical fantasy set in Moorish Spain- like world at the time of El Cid.
"The Lions of Al-Rassan"

I can't think of anything much set in Alhambra, but there is Washington Irving's "Alhambra", a collection of stories written while the author was living there, and published in 1851.

*Edit- Sorry, added "Lions of Al-Rassan" without noticing that CW had already mentioned it!
Last edited by annis on Tue January 6th, 2009, 1:15 am, edited 5 times in total.

Caveowl
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Post by Caveowl » Tue January 6th, 2009, 12:47 am

In Noah Gordon's "The Last Jew," there is a scene where the young protagonist visits the AlHambra that seemed accurate to me.

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Ariadne
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Post by Ariadne » Tue January 6th, 2009, 12:53 am

There's a novel called Alhambra by Colin de Silva that may suit. I have a copy on my shelf but have never read it so can't comment on its quality. UK only as far as I know, and long out of print, but used copies are around.

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Post by annis » Tue January 6th, 2009, 1:05 am

I didn't know about that one, ariadne, though i remember reading his "Sinhala" series, set in Sri Lanka, many years ago and enjoying them. It's hard to find out much about de Silva's "Alhambra", but according to the Alibris listing it's subtitled "Arena of Assassins" and set in the fourteenth century
< A powerful saga of medieval chivalry and trechery, of love and lust, of believers and infidels. Set in the contested lands of 14th-century Spain, where four Christian kings are vying for supreme power>

I accidentally discovered another novel with the title 'Alhambra"! This one is by Madeline Pollard, published 1970, and it's synopsis reads:
< Born a Spaniard but raised in the Alhambra as a Moor, a young man participating in the Spanish siege of Granada is torn by divided loyalities further complicated by his love for an inaccessible Moorish princess.>
Last edited by annis on Tue January 6th, 2009, 1:13 am, edited 2 times in total.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Tue January 6th, 2009, 1:18 am

If you are going with classics, Washington Irving did more than Tales of the Alhambra; he also wrote a book called Legends of the Conquest of Spain, and another, Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada. Both are available from Gutenberg project as PDF files, or together from Amazon as a reprint.

Washington Irving was the US ambassador to Spain for many years, which is why he was so interested in the subject.

I remember An Odor of Sanctity. Like most Yerbys, over the top. Gorgeous, perfect guy has multiple reasons to fall in the sack with a succession of adoring ladies.

The Ghost of Hannah Mendes
by Naomi Ragen has a backstory set in that period. If nothing else, you'll find out a lot about Sephardic Judaism.

Louis L'Amour's the Walking Drum has about half the book set in Moorish Spain, circa 1200 or so. Another OTT swashbuckler.

There's another available on PDF book set in Granada, written from the Moorish POV and translated from the French, but I can't remember the name of it right off hand.

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Post by Ariadne » Tue January 6th, 2009, 1:25 am

Here's a synopsis of the back cover of de Silva's Alhambra if it helps. The prologue starts in 1061 AD though the rest of the novel appears to take place in the 14th century.

"The magical palace of Alhambra - the masterpiece of Moorish architecture - is built by the Jewish Grand Vizier of Granada and proves to be his downfall. Jealous of its splendours and mistrustful of its creator, the Caliph personally beheads Yusuf ibn Nagralla, but not before a dark curse is laid upon the stones of the wondrous palace, a curse that will make blood flow down through the centuries. Alhambra is a powerful saga of medieval chivalry and treachery, of love and lust, of believers and infidels. The harsh beauty of the Spanish landscape and the exotic splendour of the great palaces provide the backdrop to this world of myth and legend..."

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Post by annis » Tue January 6th, 2009, 2:57 am

Thanks, ariadne.

There is a book called "Granada", which I haven't read myself. I don't know if it's the one you were thinking of, MLE - it is written from the Muslim POV.
It's by Radwa Ashour, and has been translated into English.

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Post by sweetpotatoboy » Tue January 6th, 2009, 10:17 am

[quote=""cw gortner""]I could recommend several, but they're published in Spain and are in Spanish. [/quote]

If you wouldn't mind, could you recommend a few of these.

I agree the Kay book is interesting, though not directly relevant.

And the Louis L'Amour book is to be avoided in my view...

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