The Saracen Storm: A Novel of the Moorish Invasion of Spain

Written by J. M. Nunez
Review by Anna Belfrage

Any Spanish schoolchild over the age of nine will have heard of the battle of Covadonga and how one man led his Christian countrymen to victory over the advancing Moors. In the early 8th century, the former Visigoth kingdoms of Spain were disintegrating under the advancing Saracen armies, and Christian resistance was being pushed further and further north. At Covadonga, the Saracen expansion was halted when the Christians won, thereby kicking off the Spanish Reconquista—a struggle to reconquer the former Christian Spain from the Moors that would not end until 1492, when the last Moorish Kingdom, Granada, fell to Fernando and Isabel.

The hero of Covadonga is Pelayo, a man shrouded in mist. Nunez does an excellent job bringing this shadowy person to life, presenting the reader with a man of integrity and honor who somehow manages to rise to the occasion despite all those who do their best to see him tumble to the ground. This Pelayo is a forceful man, a man of action and brains. Born the bastard son of the Duke of Asturias, Pelayo overcomes the stigma of his birth, the hatred of his half-brother, and the loss of the love of his life and emerges harder and sharper, like a tempered blade of steel.

Other than Pelayo, the author presents several well-wrought characters, all displayed against the complex historical landscape that is Spain in the 8th century. I found this an interesting and well-researched read that helped shed light on a period that is rarely represented in historical fiction.