Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Queen's Vow - C.W. Gortner


The Queen’s Vow
By C.W. Gortner

Isabella of Castile is one of those women you read about and become angry you didn’t know more about a long time ago.  Or at least that is how it was for me.  She is the king’s half-sister with a crazy mom and a little brother who has a better chance of ending up on the throne than she does but then royal drama happens and scheming is afoot and her life takes some very interesting turns. 

I was fascinated by the way Gortner told her story and now I want to know more.  Isabella dares to take her life into her own hands and have a say in her future, with both catastrophic and remarkable results.  With one hand she signs away thousands of lives while the other creates a path for women to become educated as well as educators. 

The one thing that bothered me throughout the story was the way she seemed to explain away the actions of her husband.  There were moments when she was, justifiably, upset and the story seemed to brush her emotions under the rug.  She was incredibly determined and independent except when it came to her husband’s feelings of insignificance.  

Overall, the story was not only fascinating but also entertaining.  Gortner was able to show how Isabella’s world must have felt while still mocking in a way that made me uncertain if I wanted to laugh or smack the characters. 

“My brothers drew swords against each other at this very moment on a battlefield, the flower of Castile’s manhood lay dead around them.  Many more would be wounded.  And what did our queen do?
She danced.”
-page 113

I liked the way the book ended but I was also sad that I didn’t get to find out what happened next.  Isabella is the mother of Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII, and I wish that I could have read more about the later lives of her five children.  But, I guess there is only so much you can put in 400 pages.  I will have to find out more later. 


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.


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.

Link to tour schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.blogspot.com/2012/06/cw-gortner-on-tour-for-queens-vow-novel.html 
Twitter Hashtag: #QueensVowVirtualTour
Link to book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1cWBUZkj0M

 **Thank you Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for providing me with an ARC for review.

1 comment:

C.W. Gortner said...

Thanks for your fun review and for hosting me on my tour! You made me laugh, I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. I hope to continue the stories of some of Isabella's children later; my first novel, The Last Queen, is about her daughter Juana. I hope your readers enjoy THE QUEEN'S VOW.