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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Book Review: The Queen’s Vow by C.W. Gortner

the queen's vow

The Queen’s Vow by C.W. Gortner
ARC, Hardcover, 400 pages
Ballatine Books
June 12, 2012
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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.

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.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by C.W. Gortner:

the last queen
The Last Queen

the confessions of catherine de medici
The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
[My Review]

the vatican princess
The Vatican Princess
[My Review]

mademoiselle chanel
Mademoiselle Chanel
[My Review]


the tudor secret
The Tudor Secret (Spymaster #1)
[My Review]

the tudor conspiracy
The Tudor Conspiracy (Spymaster #2)
[My Review]

the tudor vendetta
The Tudor Vendetta (Spymaster #3)
[My Review]

Find C.W. Gortner: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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


  1. Thank you for this marvelous review! I really appreciate it and I'm honored to be here as part of my virtual tour.

    1. Honored to have you stop by and to be hosting a stop on the tour.

  2. I am very eager to read it. Thank you for your review.

  3. I am right in the middle of reading this book and am really enjoying it. I had finished The Last Queen a few weeks ago, so it is interesting reading this one now.

    1. I am looking forward to having the chance to read The Last Queen. I'm sure that these two books would go well together.

  4. I'm starting this book for the tour over the weekend and I can't wait. Thanks for the excellent review Heather :)

  5. Reading it now and loving it! I hate every time I have to put it down.

    1. I finished it in about 3 days - a very good read!

  6. Great review, Heather. My thoughts on the novel are quite similar to yours (my review goes up tomorrow). Since you loved this one then you'll definitely love The Last Queen, which is my favourite of Gortner's novels.

    1. Glad to hear you liked this book and I am excited for the Last Queen. Glad to know you think I will enjoy it!

  7. Sounds good! Thanks for including your review in the European Reading Challenge!


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