ARC, Hardcover, 400 pages
June 12, 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Received from the publisher for review as part of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
“No one believed she was destined for greatness—until she became one of history’s most powerful and controversial queens.
Young Isabella is barely a teenager when she is thrust into danger. Suspected of treason and held captive, she treads a perilous path, until, at age seventeen, she 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 whom she has vowed to love yet is forbidden to her—Fernando, prince of Aragón.
As together 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 a violent, treacherous battle against an ancient adversary erupts, it will test Isabella’s resolve, her courage, and her tenacious belief in her destiny . . . .
From the glorious palaces of Segovia to the battlefields of Granada and 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.”
I have been a fan of Gortner’s work since I picked up my first read of his, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici. He has a talent of taking maligned or misunderstood women and making them approachable characters whom readers can identify with and attempt to understand their choices. His novel of Isabella of Castile is no different. Isabella is remembered by history as the Spanish queen who re-incited the Inquisition, the mother of Catherine of Aragon and Juana la Loca, and the queen who financed Christopher Columbus’ American expedition. In The Queen’s Vow we are treated to an Isabella who does all of these things, but whom we also see grow up and who struggles with her decisions.
Right from the first pages we meet a young Isabella that we can identify with and grow up with. We feel what it is like to grow up maligned from the court that you belong to and see your livelihood stripped away. We can identify with the heat of a first love. As time goes on we get to know her husband, Fernando of Aragon, and even later her brood – Isabel, Juan, Juana, Maria, and Catalina. I most enjoyed getting to know her family who I didn’t know too much about. In all the novels I have read I have always found Fernando distasteful, however here I found myself enamored by him – despite his flaws. We get to really know her oldest two children the best, Isabel and Juan, whom you don’t read much about.
While we don’t know the thoughts that went through Isabella’s head while making some of her most important decisions as queen, I find Gortner’s take on it fully plausible. Most people have some qualms about major decisions they make and I can absolutely believe that Isabella might have had doubts about some of her most definitive decisions. If nothing else, his choices fit in well with the characters he created. You really feel that Isabella is a real person who has flaws.
While I enjoyed all the aspects of this story of Isabella’s life, I most enjoyed reading about the Reconquista and especially how she wanted to be out at the battlefield. She was truly a strong Queen, regardless of how we may feel about her decisions regarding the Inquisitions. I cannot wait to have the chance to read The Last Queen, about her daughter, Juana, as a continuation of this storyline.
Gorter is an author whose work I know I will always enjoy.
Author C.W. Gortner also has written The Last Queen, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, and The Tudor Secret. You can visit C.W.’s website or blog for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?
You can also watch the book trailer below.
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You can follow the rest of the blog tour at HFVBT or on Twitter with the hashtag #QueensVowVirtualTour.
Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court