ATLANTA — Sunbury Press has released John D. Cressler’s latest novel “Shadows in the Shining City,” the 2nd book in the Anthems of El-Andalus Series.
About the Book:
The Golden Age of Moorish Spain was during the 10th century, a time when the benevolent Syrian Arab Caliphs ruled Iberia from Córdoba, the site of the iconic Great Mosque and home to the Royal Library, one of the largest collections of ancient books ever assembled. 10th century Córdoba was the richest, most populous, and most cultured city in the western world. Under the tolerant Muslim Caliphs, the pinnacle of convivencia was attained, that unique period of Spanish history when Muslims, Jews and Christians lived together in relative harmony and peace. Multicultural Córdoba was an enlightened city that treasured its books, celebrated art and literature, advanced science and medicine, and its myriad accomplishments were envied by both the west and the east alike.
Shadows in the Shining City is a prequel to Emeralds of the Alhambra, and the second book in the Anthems of al-Andalus Series. Shadowstells the story of the forbidden love between Rayhana Abi Amir, a Muslim princess of the Royal Court, and Zafir Saffar, a freed slave. Young love blossoms in 10th century Madinat al-Zahra, the Shining City, the Caliph’s magnificent Royal Palace located just outside of Córdoba. Their love story is set against the backdrop of the epic rise to power of Rayhana’s ruthless father, a man history will come to both celebrate and revile for the role he plays in dooming the bright future of Moorish Spain.
Praise for John D. Cressler’s
Shadows of the Shining City
“An inspiring and deeply moving novel on both the nature of love and the many beautiful possibilities brought to life when religions learn to coexist.”
—Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
“A mesmerizing love story … filled with vivid historical descriptions of treachery and strategies in politics, religion, power, and love during the Golden Age of Moorish Spain.”
—Valerie Jackson, In Conversation (Between the Lines),
National Public Radio
“This is the second novel in Cressler’s Anthems of al-Andalus Series, where the legacy of the Arab/Islamic civilization in medieval Spain, with its refinements, its enduring tolerance, and its esthetic dynamism is celebrated. A novel about love, political strife, and cultural conflicts, it is written in a rich and shimmering style carrying an implicit message on the value of recognizing the achievements of the “other,” and asserting the fact that there is no fixed center for human creativity and progress.”
—Salma Khadra Jayyusi, poet, writer, and literary historian.
Founder and Director of EAST-WEST NEXUS/PROTA for the
Dissemination in English of Arabic cultural achievements
“An enthralling narrative to a shocking history. In this novel of 10th century Spain during the critical transition in the Muslim world from a progressive leader to a cruel megalomaniac, the author brings the reader straight into the landscape, the majesty and the struggles for power which cast the shadows upon al-Zahra, the Shining City. Cressler brilliantly weaves together fact and fiction, passion and intrigue, the throes of love, and the violence of war. With great attention to detail, he artfully unfolds the drama of a young and forbidden love, exquisitely keeping us rapt in the story, wondering in each moment, what will happen next?”
—Rabbi Rachael M. Bregman, Temple Beth Tefilloh
“Another tour de force! Cressler submerges us in a luxurious narrative evoking the loves, lives, intrigue, and history of 10th century Córdoba, a time of religious and political amity among Muslims, Jews, and Christians. Our master storyteller provides a cautionary tale of how human desire can corrupt the power of love through the love of power. We cheer for Rayhana and Zafir while we witness the horror of books burning on the pyre of one man’s insane desire to stem the love of knowledge. We rejoice in the many triumphs of al-Andalus, yet despair at lessons not yet learned about how human beings may live and love together. Shadows in the Shining City is a lovely, moving, and inspiring story of how it might have been. We believe!”
—Professor Susan Abraham, Loyola Marymount University
“Cressler is a master of meticulously researched detail. His intricately woven characters plumb the depths of love and fear, cunning treachery and wisdom, immersing the reader into the heart of 10th century al-Andalus as it balances on the edge of a cosmic shift, with repercussions that continue to reverberate today. What better way to learn history than through the eyes of lovers both young and seasoned: lovers of books and scientific discovery, of beauty and of harmony among diverse peoples, and ultimately, human love that defies all obstacles to proclaim,
—Cathy Devlin Crosby,Cofounder of Neshama Interfaith Center
“Cressler is a master of rich description, pulling the reader into each scene. An incredible love story supported and sustained by the remarkable coexistence of religions that characterized that magical era. (We) are left yearning for a return to convivencia.”
—Father Bruce Maivelett, S.J., Jesuit Superior,
Ignatius House Retreat Center
“Cressler’s suspenseful novel, set at a decisive moment in Spain’s pre-modern history, challenges our all too comfortable prejudices about medieval culture as the eternal dark “other,” an allegedly primitive and less cultured period we have long left behind. Under the deceptive garment of an engaging love story, Cressler reveals the human continuities between the medieval past and the modern present, confronts twenty-first century religious intolerance with the decline of a relatively peaceful convivencia among tenth-century Spanish Muslims, Christians, and Jews, and celebrates the powerful role of learning and intellectual curiosity for interfaith dialogue.”
—Professor Richard Utz, Chair, School of Literature, Media and Communication, Georgia Tech, and President,
International Society for the Study of Medievalism
“Cressler has done it again! He has woven an intricate and fascinating web in 10th century Córdoba from the threads of court intrigue, war, lust for power, passion, and most of all, love. The author reminds us that the most powerful force available has always been, and will always be, love; and that people from different cultures and religions can not only live together in peace, but also thrive and flourish even more profoundly in diversity. Cressler helps us all to believe that these highest values are still attainable and worth fighting for. A great read with a heartfelt message for today’s world!”
—Marian Monahan,Cofounder of Neshama Interfaith Center
“Cressler is a vivid writer who creates a breathtaking adventure that is both intensely entertaining and informative. The reader is immersed in the cultural, religious, and scientific currents of one of the most remarkable periods of Spanish history. I look forward to the next one!”
—Father Thomas Kenny, S.J., Chaplain and Teacher,
Atlanta Cristo Rey Jesuit High School
“Cressler has done it again! Against a tapestry of historical grandeur and religious conflict in 10th century Spain, he has woven a compelling tale of political intrigue, cultural turmoil, and forbidden love. Page turning was never so easy, or so unstoppable! Can’t wait for the third installment of this memorable trilogy!”
—Roger A. Meyer, M.D.
“A medieval masterpiece filled with love, intrigue, betrayal, and passion … (that) leaves the reader thirsting for more!”
“A superbly written novel (that allows readers) to glimpse the complex events that shaped Spain … (and) become living witnesses to a slice of the history of al-Andalus, which Cressler brings to life with such love and care.”
“Takes you into the intrigue of a sophisticated civilization in medieval Córdoba. Full of ambitious plots, secrets, and true love. It kept me on the edge of my seat!”
“A love story inspiring to those lucky enough to have been loved unconditionally, and to those who hope for such a blessing someday. This riveting story kept me on edge throughout.”
“A fast-paced, fun read that makes medieval Spain come alive. Characters of differing cultures and faiths come to life in a way that shows the goodness that is possible when we are tolerant.”
“A love story (that) will make you see that times change but mankind remains the same; capable of great love and awful treachery. Take a trip back to 10th century Spain and see people of faith—Muslim, Christian, and Jew—live with and love one another. There is hope for us all and it begins with love.”
“I have undergone an education about a period of time of which I knew little, and best of all is that in becoming educated, I was thoroughly entertained!”
“You will be awestruck (and) your breath will be taken away over and over again as you read the beautiful love story of two young people … whose unwavering love outshines the powerful, intriguing political forces set against their union.”
“(Cressler is) a first-rate storyteller. Wonderful three-dimensional characters, dramatic situations, and fascinating historical and cultural details.”
—Tom Nadar, Ph.D.
“Exhilarating! A beautifully told story of love that finds a way to triumph. Historically compelling, with characters that make the time come alive.”
“Weaves fiction and fact into a suspenseful, intriguing, passionate saga. A compelling story exploring themes of love, religion, and the thirst for power. A must read!”
Shadows in the Shining City: Book Two of the Anthems of al-Andalus Series
Authored by John D. Cressler
List Price: $24.95
6″ x 9″ (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Black & White on White paper
Sunbury Press, Inc.
BISAC: Fiction / Historical
Coming soon on Kindle and Nook
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