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Court of Lions

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  539 ratings  ·  134 reviews
Sometimes at the lowest points in your life, fate will slip you a gift. Ken Follett meets Jodi Picoult in a stunning new novel from Jane Johnson.

Kate Fordham, escaping terrible trauma, has fled to the beautiful sunlit city of Granada, the ancient capital of the Moors in Spain, where she is scraping by with an unfulfilling job in a busy bar. One day in the glorious gardens
Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 30th 2017 by Doubleday Canada
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3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  539 ratings  ·  134 reviews

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Robin Hobb
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Caveat: The author is a long time friend, one I have worked with professionally. I don't think this affects my feelings about the book, but I like to be transparent.

Because I so often review fantasy books, I will mention that this is based on real events, and is a stand-alone tale.

Some books I love. Other books I live as I read them. This is a passionately felt book, a retelling of historical events from the viewpoint of a fictional character. I think this structure works very well for immersin
May 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, kobo
Book to be published 30/05/17

Similar to The Sultan's Wife, Court of Lions was a bit difficult to get into at first, but after a few chapters I read quite steadily until the end. A dual narrative, Jane Johnson brings readers into the sights, sounds,and society of contemporary and 15th century Spain. As dual narratives go, I preferred the historical period as it was steeped in historical research( Johnson's historical note at the end of the book was highly informative). Not to mention that I pref
Dash fan
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
4☆ Enchanting and steeped in history

Court of Lions is my first book I have read by Jane Johnson

Court of Lions is enriched with history, Passion, it's enchanting and , It is written within two timelines. From past and present.

The past timeline is told by Blessings. Blessing is a companion to Prince Abu Abdullah Mohammed (Momo - The last Sultan of Granada). He holds the Prince in very high regards as we learn just how much he cares for the Prince.
The story told by Blessings is steeped in rich his
Mark Lawrence
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another fine book from Jane Johnson, containing many of her trademarks: east meets west, split time line - historical/present, elements of romance, some bloodshed, and fascinating historical fiction. Johnson's stories bring both past and present to life, and by offering a western eye in an eastern setting she is naturally able to satisfy our curiosity.

This book also has food porn! I want Friday couscous now!

Even though it took me a while to read the book felt too short, in as much as I was sorry
Colleen Fauchelle
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reads
At the back of the book, the Author goes into the History of Granda and the great Palace, the area was ran by a Muslim king untill the Catholics turned up.
I enjoyed reading about Adu Abdullah Mohammed, the young Sultan and his Bestest friend Blessing (blessing is not a real person of history) Blessing was the Sultan's ears, eyes and protector and rescued him when he was locked up.
The Young Sultan didn't have it easy with a powerful dad, a power hungry Uncle and a mother who also liked to try an
T.O. Munro
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Decades ago I studied History at A'level - including a paper in European History from about 1480 to 1680. My revision strategy consisted of stringing together every incident of European History and making them but branches from a single stem of "Why did Spain decline in the 1600s?" It was a sure bet as this precise essay question had come up on every exam paper since before even my History teacher had been born.

That long ago study came back to me as I read Jane Johnson's glorious twin tale. In e
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Absorbing and romantic!

This is a historical love letter to the city of Granada complete with incredibly intriguing and genuine details about The Granada War that took place in the late 1400s and included the rise and subsequent fall of Abu Abdullah Mohammed, the twenty-second and last Islamic ruler of this emirate.

The story is told from differing perspectives; Blessings, a young confident whose yearning and love for the young sultan never wavers; and Kate, a middle-aged woman who finds herself i
Antonella Cucchi
Jul 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
Worst book I've ever read. The one star is only for the descriptions of The Alhambra. I'm sorry I spent money on this book. I'm sorry I wasted time reading it in the hopes that it would get better. It didn't.
Find all my reviews, plus author interviews, guest posts and book extracts, on my blog:

The story of Sultan Abu Abdullah Mohammed, known as Momo, is related through the eyes of Blessings, a slave brought as a young orphan from a desert tribe to be his companion. Despite the difference in their status, Blessings and Momo form a deep and lasting friendship although, for Blessings, the relationship becomes more than friendship. Their relationship will be test
Somewhere between 3 and 3.5 stars.

Firstly, I want to address something. This is a novel with a dual-timeline, something that I had absolutely no clue from by reading the blurb. Yes, this tells the story of Kate Fordham, who works in a bar in modern-day Granada after fleeing from an abusive husband (whom I may or may not have imagined as Ioan Gruffudd after finishing Liar ) and who struggles to get her life back in order. But I would argue that this is not her story at all, but rather that of Ble
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very enjoyable, atmospheric and immersive read.

Mary Mimouna
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent, very hard to put down.
Lisa - (Aussie Girl)
As I will be visiting the Alhambra next week ( a big tick on my travel bucket list) I was pleased to find a historical fiction novel which told the tale of the last days of the Nasrid Dynasty and described the beauty of this inspirational palace. Juxtaposed with this historical part of the story is a contemporary one of a British young woman on the run from an abusive husband who finds shelter in this lovely part of the world. Although I found the historical part fascinating unfortunately it was ...more
Clare O'Beara
This is a lavish and detailed history which reimagines Granada under its last Moorish sultan. The tale is brought up to date by connecting to the distressing life of a woman fleeing an abusive, controlling and manipulative man. The British woman Kate has gone to Spain - oddly for a computer analyst she doesn't do anything legal and logical.

The only fault for me really is that because we get concerned about our modern heroine, after halfway we may find the tale of slave Blessings dragging, since
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Court of Lions is the latest novel by author Jane Johnson. In the present day, Kate Fordham is an Englishwoman living incognito in Granada, Spain. Kate is hiding from her abusive husband, James. One day Kate is visiting the Alhambra and finds a small piece of paper with unusual writing on it hidden in a wall in the garden. How long has that paper lain hidden in the wall? Kate meets friends at the Alhambra who help her discover what is on the paper and its origins. Kate is worried about her siste ...more
This was just a sumptuous, glorious book that had such an engrossing split story narrative. By the last few chapters, I could see how there was a clear past and present narrative.

The past was centred around a period of history, in a place I knew little about, yet Johnson has written it in such vivid detail that the locations and people became very clear in my mind. These events are all seen through the eyes of Blessing, the "Special Guardian" of the last Sultan of Granada. I ended up growing ve
Darcie Boleyn
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Court of Lions is the first book I’ve ready by Jane Johnson and it certainly won’t be the last! This novel was a sensual and emotional delight from beginning to end.

The reader is taken on two fascinating and gripping journeys, one in 15th century Spain, following Blessings, companion to Prince Abdullah Mohammed, and the other modern day, following Kate Fordham, an Englishwoman working in Granada.

The two stories are interwoven, which is a narrative technique that I really enjoyed. Both characte
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another triumph for Jane Johnson. I got hooked on her writing with The Sultans Wife, and in Court of Lions, she returns to familiar territory. This time her narrative is a dual timeline, set in Moorish Spain, during the ascent and conquest by Ferdinand and Isabella of Aragon and Castille.
The story of Blessings, a young boy bought and assigned to the heir to the Moorish throne of Granada and the Alhambra, and of his feelings for Momo as he calls the young Prince. Uncertain of his own sexuality, t
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Rich and steeped in history.

The present day narrative felt a bit distracting -- Kate's escape from her abusive and over-the-top religious husband has enough going on to fill a book on its own, yet because it shared space with Blessings' story, things like self-harm and the daily effects of PTSD are told rather than shown and we get an odd kidnapping interlude.

Blessings and Momo's story is interesting and tragic. I knew of the Inquisition and of Ferdinand and Isabella, but less is widely taught
I read it and I really didn't like either main characters (Blessings and Kate). I found both of them to be very annoying and not easy to sympathize with at all.

Blessings kept going on and on about the love of his life, Boabdil, how jealous he is, how he thinks Boabdil loves him, how he can do no wrong. ENOUGH! We get it! You love Boabdil, but can never act upon those feelings for so many annoying reasons.

Kate had a traumatic couple of years, especially involving her "husband" James, and is now
Yvonne (It's All About Books)

Finished reading: July 5th 2017

"History was rather wasted on the young, who had yet to discover that looking back could sometimes be a lot more instructive than looking forward."

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Head Of Zeus in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

(view spoiler)
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
This is almost 500 pages and was a very long read for me as I had to shuffle between reading time and work. I finally finished it after a week :)
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The story is about Kate Fordham, who has a disastrous past and flies away from it to the Province of Granada. She is broken, thanks to her past, and she just manages to survive in a foreign country living each day in guilt and fear. She finds solace in the gardens of Alh
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have to start by saying straight off that I absolutely loved this novel, and that I now have a deep urge to book the first flight out to Granada. Whilst my job prevents me from doing the latter, I can bring my love of the former to everybody who will listen.
The beauty of this book is that it ties together two plot strands in a way that, at first glance, have hardly anything to do with each other, but whose similarities are slowly revealed as the story goes on- and provides us with two equally
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Jane Johnson is a master storyteller. Her in depth knowledge/research of ancient history is impressive. She has done an excellent job of putting emotions into historical facts.

There are 2 story lines in this novel - dual narratives. Current day Kate has escaped from her abusive and weird and dangerous husband to the city of Granada in Spain. Granada is the ancient capital city of the Moors from northern Africa or Morocco.

The other narrative is a young person called Blessings who is the playmate
Martha Dunlop
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It was beautiful, heartbreaking, surprising and enthralling.

It is an enchanting tale of the fall of Granada, told through the eyes of Blessings, the devoted servant of the Sultan's son and heir. Blessings adores Momo, (known to everyone else as Abu Abdullah Mohammed), and spends a lifetime trying to keep his beloved from harm, without betraying his own secret.

The story was told from such a personal perspective that it pulled me deep into its magic. I loved Momo and Blessings
Kerran Olson
Oct 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-challenge
Really enjoyed this one! I liked the split narrative, in particular Kate's story as more was revealed about her creepy husband as the story progressed. Blessings story was fascinating, and as someone who didn't have much historical knowledge to refer to, I still found that it was easy to understand but left me eager to find out more when I finished the novel. The historical and contemporary contrasting storylines worked really well together, and I will definitely look out for more by Jane Johnso ...more
Robin Carter
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I have been wanting to review a book for Jane Johnson for quite a long time, i make no secret of the fact that she is just the most helpful, kind and talented person i have met in the world of books, and has always helped out this woeful reviewer. But all that said i would do an injustice if i didn’t give the book a fully fair review at the same time (and i think she would tell me off)….. so phew… its brilliant. I’m not normally one for the mushy books…. and to be honest this isn’t. While
Apr 24, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2019
I love Jane's writing and her personal experiences with Arabic culture show in her respectful writing.

This story was touching. Alhambra is on my bucket list of places to visit and its history is one of the reasons I love the board game so much.

I did feel like Kate's story was very much short changed in the book. For me, if there are to be parallel tales they need to be balanced. Not enough about Kate to truly empathize, not enough about James to understand his madness.

I would continue to recomme
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Court of Lions by Jane Johnson was a Trip Fiction Book Club pick and a novel that will stay with me for a long time. Learning about Moorish history, seeing life in the Alhambra during the 15th century through the eyes of a companion to the Sultan was fascinating. Johnson writes in such a vivid style that made it easy to imagine Momo and Blessings friendship blossoming in the plentiful gardens, or to feel their fear as the Christian army set up camp, beneath the fortress walls. (Everyone shou ...more
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
Last year I read Jane Johnson's book Pillars of Light and was impressed with her ability to weave an interesting story set within a historical era and incorporate vast amounts of research and still keeping her readers engaged. In her latest book, Court of Lions, she uses dual narratives to tell the story of two people living in Granada -- Kate in modern day and Blessings in the 15th century.

It is obvious that Johnson has put a lot of time and effort into her research. She brings 15th century Gra
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aka Jude Fisher, Gabriel King (with M. John Harrison)

Jane Johnson is from Cornwall and has worked in the book industry for 20 years, as a bookseller, publisher and writer.

She was responsible for publishing the works of J R R Tolkien during the 1980s and 1990s and worked on Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, spending many months in New Zealand with cast and crew. Under the pseudonym o
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