El Rey: A Novel of Renaissance Iberia


In the costal village of Vigo in 16th century Spain lives a merchant class family who has two beautiful daughters; Serafina (18) and Inez (12).  Their father, Inigo, has occasion to do some trading with a young sea captain, El Rey, (The King) and invites him to dinner. Both daughters are more than impressed with this handsome and wealthy sailor their father has invited home.  A relationship soon develops between El Rey and Inigo’s daughters. Inez has personality, talent, and elegant beauty.  Serafina, is beautiful, but unlike Inez, has none of her attractive qualities or talents.  Only one can hold a place in El Rey’s heart.

This story is a charming tale of love, expectation, disappointment and joy.  It does, however, leave a few things to be desired.  Inez and El Rey begin a relationship that has the reader wondering what a 28 year old sea captain and an intensely infatuated eleven year old girl could see in each other.  Their tender feelings for each other range from curiosity on his part to obsession on hers. Inez’s hope for a future with El Rey is almost unbelievable.  Her thoughts and actions also read much like a fairy tale.  Readers who enjoy fairytales will love this aspect, those who prefer more believable fare may not.  Finally, despite the wonderful details of family life, including much familial dialog, most of the characters still come across as somewhat shallow and predictable.

“El Rey”  has the potential of being a major work in romantic fiction.  While it is lovely, it doesn’t quite succeed in going further then being superficially so. With a little more character development, and believability it would have accomplished that status beautifully!

Beth Chamberlain