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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tour Stop and Book Review: The Queen's Vow by C.W.Gortner

Publisher: Ballantine Books/Random House
Genre: HF
Hardback 400 pages
Book Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
My Rating: 90/100

From HFVBT Home Page:

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.

My Thoughts:

Queen Isabella of Spain:
  • Mother and Grandmother to several famous historical figures
  • Protector of the Roman Catholic Church and devout follower of Jesus Christ
  • Patron who launched Christopher Columbus' voyage to the New World
  • Started the process of uniting Spain and bringing her into a wonderful age after years of neglect, lawlessness, and corruption
So who was Isabella and how did she have such fortitude to do so much in a time when women were not highly regarded?  The Queen's Vow seeks to answer these questions by providing the reader a look into the early life of this amazing Queen.  From a young age, Isabella was a devout Catholic and gained strength and conviction through her faith of God.  This allowed Isabella to make the tough decisions that were required of her during her life and long reign.  

When one pictures Isabella, I think we tend to view her as this older, stern, religious figure, questioning Columbus about his proposed voyage.  The Queen's Vow succeeds in reminding us that Isabella was once a young, pretty, intelligent, and happy woman.  The Queen's Vow changes the reader's perception of Isabella.  She loved her family and her friends, and never thought she would be ruler of Castile.   Although her marriage to Ferdinand may have started as a political power play, The Queen's Vow suggests that this marriage became a love match, with Ferdinand and Isabella sharing power and having a strong and loving relationship.  

The Queen's Vow is a wonderfully imagined read about the early life and times of Queen Isabella of Spain.  Gortner's writing planted me firmly within Isabella's world with his descriptions of the clothes, the alcazar, the viper's of the Spanish Court, everything.  It was so easy to imagine and feel what Isabella may have been going through whenever she faced a tough decision or foe.  

Almost every work Gortner has produced is about a famous historical woman who has been inaccurately portrayed and often maligned throughout history.  In each case, Gortner captures the essence of  what these women may have been like and how they came to be such dominant forces in their respective times.  Gortner has done the same with Queen Isabella in The Queen's Vow and I hope readers enjoy getting to know this famous Queen who helped find America.

For more information about C.W. Gortner and his other works, please visit his website:


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. 

 Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"