Friday, June 22, 2012

{Book Tour} Review: The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner

My thoughts:
I could not put this book down! As he did with Juana of Castile in The Last Queen, Gortner has once again taken a historical queen and made her as interesting and exciting as any modern day heroine.  It's interesting to me how little I knew of Isabella of Spain; one who was so instrumental in allowing Columbus to open the way for the future settlement of what would become America.  Of course, that is what we were taught when I was in elementary school so many years ago.  The implications of what came after Columbus's discovery is entirely another story.  And yes, this is a fictional depiction of a historical figure, but there is no denying the historical accuracy here.  Gortner does his research well.

Isabella rose to power in a tumultuous time in Spain.  To say that she was a steadfast and determined woman is saying little.  The conventions of the time did not allow a princess to choose their own husband and yet she did.  Spurred by her own will and her strong Catholic faith, Isabella was a force to be reckoned with.  Her marriage to a prince of Aragon was a love match, yes, but also a strategic move for the uniting of Spain.  Together they brought about the change of many conventions in Spain.

However, her reign was not without its blemishes.  The Inquisition and the expulsion of the Jews are two events that have brought much negativity to history's portrayal of Isabella.  However, Gortner has succeeded in depicting a possible reason for her decisions by giving us a multifaceted woman who believed in compassion and yet was driven by a faith that had no tolerance for other religions.  To truly judge a person's actions, we would need to know more about the real person and yet we must rely on the history books.  Gortner has done a good job of giving us a very human woman who truly felt her actions were for the good of her kingdom.

I have now been inspired to read more about the history of Spain and its ruling class.  Once again, historical fiction has done its very important job; that of leading us to further learning about history.  Something only a well written book can do.  This is that book.

Note:  There is an excellent author's note at the end of the book with further resources for reading about Isabella and her times.  Also, a special note about a cause dear to my heart.  The plight of Spanish greyhounds.  Be sure to check it out.

About the book:
Pub Date: June 12, 2012 | Ballantine Books | 400p

No one believed I was destined for greatness.

So begins Isabella’s story, in this evocative, vividly imagined novel about one of history’s most famous and controversial queens—the warrior who united a fractured country, the champion of the faith whose reign gave rise to the Inquisition, and the visionary who sent Columbus to discover a New World. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner envisages the turbulent early years of a woman whose mythic rise to power would go on to transform a monarchy, a nation, and the world.

Young Isabella is barely a teenager when she and her brother are taken from their mother’s home to live under the watchful eye of their half-brother, King Enrique, and his sultry, conniving queen. There, Isabella is thrust into danger when she becomes an unwitting pawn in a plot to dethrone Enrique. Suspected of treason and held captive, she treads a perilous path, torn between loyalties, until at age seventeen she suddenly finds herself heiress of Castile, the largest kingdom in Spain. Plunged into a deadly conflict to secure her crown, she is determined to wed the one man she loves yet who is forbidden to her—Fernando, prince of Aragon.

As they unite their two realms under “one crown, one country, one faith,” Isabella and Fernando face an impoverished Spain beset by enemies. With the future of her throne at stake, Isabella resists the zealous demands of the inquisitor Torquemada even as she is seduced by the dreams of an enigmatic navigator named Columbus. But when the Moors of the southern domain of Granada declare war, a violent, treacherous battle against an ancient adversary erupts, one that will test all of Isabella’s resolve, her courage, and her tenacious belief in her destiny.

From the glorious palaces of Segovia to the battlefields of Granada and the intrigue-laden gardens of Seville, The Queen’s Vow sweeps us into the tumultuous forging of a nation and the complex, fascinating heart of the woman who overcame all odds to become Isabella of Castile.

About the author:
C.W. Gortner is the author of The Last Queen, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici and The Tudor Secret. He holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall and experienced life in a Spanish castle. His novels have garnered international praise and been translated into thirteen languages to date. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental issues.

He's currently at work on his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about the early years of Lucrezia Borgia, as well as the third novel in his Tudor series,The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles (US) or Elizabeth's Spymaster (UK).

Half-Spanish by birth, C.W. lives in Northern California.


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Twitter Hashtag: #QueensVowVirtualTour


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  1. I really enjoyed this and now need to find Juana's book.

  2. Thank you for your terrific review! I'm so glad you enjoyed The Queen's Vow and hope your readers will, too.

  3. This sounds good! I like the books that make you want to learn more about history. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I've been fascinated with Isabella and Ferdinand ever since I visited Spain two years ago. I was able to stand above their tombs and see monuments of what they had accomplished everywhere.

  5. What a relief. I have been dying to read this and when I saw your review I was so hoping that you loved it. I am glad that it is hard to put down. Thank you for your lovely review.

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