Seven Noble Knights: A Saga of Family, Betrayal, and Revenge in Medieval Spain

Written by J. K. Knauss
Review by Thomas j. Howley

Based on an epic medieval poem, this appealing novel seems a bit of Romeo and Juliet overlaid with Spanish Christians and Moorish Muslims. It is a story of vengeance and young love set in a uniquely fascinating setting within medieval Europe. In 974 AD, the youngest of seven spectacular Christian sibling knights horribly disrupts a royal wedding when he witnesses a dishonorable act. This sets the stage for the destruction of all seven brothers at the hands of an evil Don and his noble wife, and the agony of their parents when the father is taken captive by the Moors.

Somehow the father survives, and many years later a hero arrives from the splendors of the Moorish capital to aid the stricken father and mother and seek revenge against the evil perpetrators. This intriguing character, Mudarra, is a strangely believable mixture of Christian and Muslim, boy and man, intellectual savant and formidable warrior. He impresses all he meets, is made a leader of warriors by the Count of Castile, and systematically goes about hunting down the sources of all the misery. Along the way, Mudarra falls in love with the most unlikely young woman; an issue which dramatically complicates his quest.

This book is not a battle-filled saga with clashing swords and the clanging of shields, though there are several very well-done short combat scenes. Braced for predictable revisionist history, I didn’t find any. The historical settings are lavish, and the descriptive accuracy draws the reader into the time and place. The contrast between the technically advanced but decadent opulence of Cordoba and the relatively simple but proud character of Christian Spain is fascinating. Despite Mudarra’s somewhat weird relationship with both his birth and adopted mothers, I look forward to the sequel and will happily recommend this book.