I just finished reading The King in the Stone by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban. I found it to be a terrific adventure tale set in a fascinatingly real, yet magical kingdom – the world of Spain in Late Antiquity, during its tumultuous tug-of-war between kings and warlords. I’ve not seen any other stories that deal with this era and that made it even more intriguing.
While the heroes in this part of Spain’s history are as well-known to Spaniards as King Arthur is to the English, I really knew nothing of this culture before I began reading. But the author masterfully drew me in by weaving an alternate reality into her story: the protagonists, a young man and woman in the throes of a precarious romance, are modern day college students who actually travel back in time to early Spain. I related to them as contemporaries, and saw these Spanish legends unfolding alternately through Andrea’s eyes and then Julian’s eyes – it was like watching a movie where you can read every emotion and thought in the character’s minds. The author is outstanding at creating surprising yet believable twists of the plot, and I loved how the alternating viewpoints created delicious tension as I tried to guess what would happen next.
The author is from Northern Spain herself and her deep affection for the people and countryside is apparent. It’s also evident that her research of the past era was extraordinary – I found her vivid descriptions of the legendary Pelayo, Witiza, Arab leader Mununza and village life of that time added a lot to my enjoyment of this universe she has created.
The main protagonists in The King in the Stone are youthful, but I (middle-aged) still found their story appealing, relatable and downright riveting. There are many supporting characters in the story as well, of every age and temperament, fleshed out beautifully in conversation and action. There is genuine romance and courageous sacrifice in this tale, and I especially welcome the story’s acknowledgement of the nobility of motherhood. I give the book a five-star recommendation for anyone who enjoys romance, historical fiction, and adventure stories. For further info see Amazon here.