Book Review: Emeralds of the Alhambra by John D. Cressler

June 6, 2013 Uncategorized 0

Genres: Historical
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  • Review: Emeralds of the AlhambraEmeralds
  • Series: Anthems of al-Andalus
  • Genre: Historical
  • Author: John D. Cressler
  • No of Pages: 424
  • Expected publication: June 15th 2013 by Sunbury Press
  • Received From: Sunbury Press for an honest review
  • Rating: 3.5/5







For hundreds of years, Christians, Muslims and Jews lived together in peace, sharing languages and customs, and embracing a level of tolerance and mutual respect unheard of today. Working together, these three peoples spawned one of the great intellectual and cultural flowerings of history in medieval Spain.


Historical novel Emeralds of the Alhambra reawakens this remarkable era via the relationship between William Chandon, a wounded Christian knight brought to the Sultan’s court in Granada, and the strong-willed Layla al-Khatib, who is on a quest to become the first female Sufi Muslim mystic in a male-dominated society. As Chandon’s influence at court grows, he becomes trapped between his forbidden love for Layla, his Christian heritage, the demands of chivalry, and political expediency. Chandon must make a choice between love and honor, war and peace, life and death, a choice which ultimately will seal Granada’s fate as the last surviving stronghold of Muslim Spain.


The novel is set in Granada at the resplendent Alhambra Palace during the Castilian Civil War (1367-1369), a time when Muslims took up their swords to fight alongside Christians. Emeralds of the Alhambra is the first book in the Anthems of al-Andalus series.


Dr. John Cressler spent 8 years at IBM Research and 10 years at Auburn University before joining Georgia Tech in 2002, where he has authored numerous books. Emeralds of the Alhambra is the TED talk presenter’s debut novel.




My thoughts:


This started very slow for me. I think it just wasn’t my kind of book. Honestly, I read a paragraph to my husband and he was enthralled while I was wanting him to do the review for me! Although I could tell that the history behind this story was very well done. John D. Cressler must have researched thoroughly, and it shows in the amazing details that he adds in for the wars, the language, the city, the people, etc. It’s immaculate.


The synopsis of this story is really interesting and honestly, so is the story. The writing is phenomenal and I did love the depth of the characters. However, I’m not into wars and the political edge behind the plot of the book was a lot for me to handle. But only because it wasn’t my thing. While reading, however, I was completely impressed by John D. Cressler’s writing. The language and the descriptions in the book were phenomenal and I never felt like something needed to be explained more. You can literally SEE everything he describes, beautifully.


Chandler and Layla are very interesting characters and once the book becomes more about them and less about war, that’s when I started getting excited. Their story pulls you into the plot. The depth of these two characters, and the other characters was great. The teach each other so much, even with being from completely different warring cultures!


And the ending had me sniffing. I thought I was going to have to get tissues out!


So, long story short… not entirely for me. It was a good read but I suggest reading if you’re more into history. I do think my husband will love this and will have to get it for him to see!




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