It’s fascinating that on the last book I read La Reconquista contada para escépticos (The Reconquest told for skeptics), I mentioned authors like Juan Eslava Galán that quite possible might not resinate with me. Well, I know for certain that José Javier Esparza is not one of them. I’ve read his fantastic trilogy of La Reconquita, and I really enjoyed them all. Specially the first book La Gran Aventura del Reino de Asturias (The Great Adventure of the Kingdom of Asturias).
I didn’t realized that the author would then go on and write another trilogy related to the Reconquista, but this one being a historical fiction. To be more precise, this trilogy called Los pioneros de La Reconquista (The Pioneers of the Reconquest). So, I immediately decided to jump on it and start reading them.
Book 1, El caballero del jabalí blanco (The Knight of the White Boar) takes place in the Kingdom of Asturias. It’s not necessary needed to read the book La Gran Aventura del Reino de Asturias in order to understand the setting. The author does a brilliant job describing the state of the kingdom of Asturias and The Emirate of Córdoba. The story’s setting is around the reign of Silo of Asturias to Alfonso II of Asturias, during the tumultuous time of the consolidation of the Kingdom of Asturias in it’s placed under Western Christendom, and against it’s enemy; The Emirate of Córdoba.
This book, in my opinion is one of the best coming of age stories that I’ve ever read! I can genuinely say this is one of the greatest books that I’ve ever read. It’s such a beautiful story that it unexpectedly touched my heart in so many ways imaginable. In this story we get to follow a free peasant boy named Zonio from a newly established social class in frontier region of Asturias, that would later be known to history as Castilla. The story is told from his point-of-view, from an already elderly man. Presented almost like memoir of his extremely difficult upbringing, during an incredible period of history. Through many different circumstances, the boy who would be later evolve and grow to a man and become a knight and fierced warrior under King Alfonso II of Asturias, and become part of his close entourage. He would somehow get involved in all the major events during this time history. The author did such a brilliant job incorporating the fictional character to it’s place in history and with the actual real historic figures. Tying everything together in a matter that was very believable and immersive.
This beautiful story has it all: epic battles, heroic deeds, heroes and villains, and very beautiful crafted; albeit very sad and tragic love story. To say that I did get somewhat emotional while reading the book multiple times, is an understatement.