Blood Feud (Legend of the Cid)

Written by Stuart Rudge
Review by Thomas j. Howley

Much of Hispania in the 11th century is under the domination of Islamic Moors while a few small, squabbling, Christian kingdoms precariously survive in the north of the peninsula. Meanwhile, the Muslims are themselves divided into various warlord-led statelets called Taifas. In 1067, aspiring knight Antonio Perez is newly married with an expectant wife while he is under the overall tutelage of Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, 24 years old and Campeador or Champion of King Sancho of Castile. Rodrigo will later be called El Cid, and Antonio is protected by this formidable mentor. As part of an envoy to exact tribute from a small Taifa, Antonio is critical in discerning a threat to all of Northern Hispania. But his situation is complicated as other Christian kingdoms, interfamilial feuds, and long-held grudges threaten the dream of the Reconquista as much as do the Islamic invaders.

The second book in the Legend of the Cid series, Blood Feud is based on historically fascinating research. However, the novel is not so much a sweeping epic of the beginning of the reconquest of Spain as a tale of familial and royal intrigue among Christian cousins. Nevertheless, the action, medieval combat and color are superbly rendered. The description of the city of Leon and the vestiges of the people’s Visigoth and Roman ancestors is especially well done. There are a few modernisms and what I found to be repeated, gratuitous use of the F-word, but that did not overly distract from my genuine enjoyment of the book. Blood Feud is classic and interesting historical fiction. Recommended.