Talking about the Book – Their Castilian Orphan by Anna Belfrage

A tidbit about the author

Anna Belfrage always wanted to be a writer, but life got in the way…

She found stolen moments to sneak in a bit of writing, and as she notes on her website those moments turned into hours, days, weeks, and months. “It is an obsession, this writing thing. It is a joy and a miracle, a constant itch and an inroad to new people, new places, new times.”

From the book description…

It is 1294 and Eustace de Lamont is back in England after five years in exile. He will stop at nothing to ruin Robert FitzStephan and his wife, Noor.

Robert’s half brother, Eustace de Lamont, has not mellowed in his absence. He is more ruthless than ever, and this time he targets Robert’s and Noor’s foster son, Lionel.

Lionel is serving King Edward as a page when Eustace appears at court. Not only does Lionel become the horrified witness to Eustace’s violent streak, Eustace also starts voicing his suspicions about Lionel’s parentage. The truth about Lionel’s heritage is explosive – should King Edward find out, all would be lost for Robert and Noor.

In October of 1294, Wales rises in rebellion. Robert must leave his family unprotected to fight the Welsh rebels on the king’s behalf, comforted only by the fact that Eustace too is called to fight.

Except Eustace has no intention of having his duty to his king – or a mere rebellion – come between him and his desire to destroy Robert FitzStephan.

A scene in the book that made you cheer

King Edward chastises Eustace de Lamont:

“Learn to live with the fact that your half-brother was gifted land by your father. Learn to live with the fact that he is in everything your better. Learn to be content with what you have, damn it! Do that before it is too late, de Lamont!”

Eustace is such an evil creep. I desperately wanted to see the king toss him out of court. Eustace defies the king’s orders time and again, and still – there he is making the lives of main characters Robert and Noor, and their foster son Lionel, miserable.

Later, another character lets Eustace have it:

“Truth is, that as long as Robert here is alive, everyone will measure the two sons of Stephan de Lamont against each other, and they will find you lacking – sadly lacking.”

The place where you wanted to throw the book across the room

I can’t tell you about this particular spot because it’s a major spoiler. I had to read it twice. Maybe I should have expected it, but honestly, I didn’t see it coming.

A memorable line or two…

Young Lionel confronts the evil Eustace de Lamont and shows off his balls:

“Men who abduct and torture the king’s loyal servants are the king’s enemy, not his servants.”

My review – 5 stars

Ms. Belfrage does it again! She drags you down – willingly, of course – into the past and immerses you. She is a master at it: from the places and time, sights and sounds, the reader is there. Her historical research is impeccable and her characters – both the fictional (especially Robert, Noor, and Lionel) and the actual historical figures – have compelling stories to tell.

The fictional characters’ story arcs are woven perfectly through the events of the time, in this case in late 13th century England when Edward I is on the throne and faces war on two fronts: in France and in Wales.

Whether you know the history of the era or not, and even if you haven’t read the earlier books in the series (as this is book 4), Ms. Belfrage knows when to insert just enough backstory to bring you up to speed.

If you like books filled with tension, a sense of danger, and intrigue, you’ll enjoy this as much as I did.

Nobody does it better. Thank you for another great read, Ms. Belfrage!

One response to “Talking about the Book – Their Castilian Orphan by Anna Belfrage”

  1. Anna Belfrage Avatar

    Thank you for a lovely review! And privately, you have to tell me when you threw the book.

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