Thanks Chameleon, that was fun.
I actually noted the feature of the grid whilst drawing it, but then forgot about it when solving the puzzle, only to go looking again on completion. Doh!
Ticks against 3,10,12,18 and 19. Re 18 I have a blind spot against the WotR being a civil war, since I think that requires the foot soldiers having a stake in the outcome rather than being pressed men in a factional war amongst the ruling elite. But Wikipedia disagrees with me.
13 has rather a clunky surface
14 the cryptic reading doesn’t quite work as ‘bella’ means simply ‘beautiful’ anything
21 ‘recalled’ would be better I think
Hi Gonzo. Thanks for your kind words. I’m interested to know you draw the grids out.
I’m glad you liked 18 as I thought that was quite a neat one. I wasn’t sure about how appropriate “civil war” was either, but I went with Wikipedia too. Believe it not I had “Very mad scientist” at the beginning of 19 for almost the entire cluing process until phrase I eventually used dropped on my head like a brick. Agree on the clunkiness of 13 – I was just aiming for a straightforward if inelegant gimme of a clue there, I think – and on “recalled” in 21. Re: 14, Google suggested bella’s an Italian noun roughly corresponding to “belle of the ball” etc., as well as an adjective, so I went with it. I’d assumed the answer was etymologically connected to bella anyway and would have clued it differently if so, but it turns out it’s a variant of Elizabeth which I think is Hebrew.
Yes I had a memory of ‘que bella’ which does translate as ‘what a beauty’, so objection withdrawn. Google doesn’t suggest it as a translation from English though, preferring ‘Che bellezza’. Quirk of the database no doubt.