The Queen’s Vow by C.W. Gortner
Published by: Ballantine Books
Published on: June 12, 2012
Page Count: 400
Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Trailer: via YouTube
My Reading Format: Review copy provided by the publisher in order to participate in the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour. For more information about this tour, click on the tour button at the bottom of my review.
Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook
Summary from the Publisher
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.
Isabella is a young woman born in a turbulent time. This can bring on the best in a character and it is the perfect setting for drama. Isabella, whose only adult roll model is her emotionally unstable mother, has to forge her own way in a world that saw her as little more than a pawn. I love how she was crafted as a thoughtful and faithful person. She relied heavily on her religious faith. It dictated how she chose to present herself and her case before the people prior to Enrique’s death. It also colored the way she saw her reign and explained how she could have allowed and even sanctioned the Inquisition and expulsion of Jews from Spain. Due to the darker decisions Isabella makes, I’m glad that time was taken to develop her character the way it was. Without that, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this novel as much as I did.
I read and adored C.W. Gortner’s first novel, The Last Queen. I kept coming back to my memories of that novel as I read The Queen’s Vow, especially after Isabella becomes a parent. Even though that was nearly four years ago, I felt that the Isabella in The Queen’s Vow matched well the Isabella in the first novel about her daughter, Juana. Through the two novels, C.W. Gortner has created a cohesive picture of Spain during this time frame. As someone who loves Historical Fiction surrounding the Tudors, these novels are essential. In fact, I would really love to see what Gortner would do with a novel about Catherine of Aragon.
The Queen’s Vow is an example of why I love Historical Fiction. It was both entertaining and it drove me to do further research on the characters and that time period. C.W. Gortner knows well how to vibrantly weave his characters into the fabric of their times. In his writing and in the way he unfolds the stories surrounding them, you can sense how much of himself he puts into his creation. At the same time, I never felt him impose judgment on his characters. It is refreshing to not just be allowed but to be expected to draw one’s own conclusions. C. W. Gortner is a fine author and I’m thankful that he uses his talent to write some of the best Historical Fiction published today.
I highly recommend The Queen’s Vow and author C.W. Gortner.