Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner


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. 


Queen Isabella

The Queen’s Vow is a biographical novel about the life of Queen Isabella of Castile who married Prince Ferdinand of Aragon in the 15th century.

Ferdinand and Isabella

Isabella makes an intriguing heroine, strong, determined, savvy when confronted with the numerous political intrigues, decisions and responsibilities she faced. As a young woman, she manoeuvres her way through court plots and cold-hearted enemies until a stroke of fortune/misfortune makes her the official heiress to Castile. The novel spans most of her life and includes both the good decisions and bad decisions this tough woman made – from starting the Inquisition to funding Christopher Columbus’ expedition to discover the new world. 

The author paints a softer version of this fascinating woman than history has depicted. He does an excellent job of demonstrating some of the emotional turmoil she experienced when making hard decisions or trying to protect her people. Isabella definitely walked a fine line between King Enrique, the Catholic Church, and the many Jews or Conversos in Spain. The novel also delves into descriptions of her family, other historical persons, and physical surroundings with astounding detail. 

I always know I'm settling down for a rich read when I pick up any of Christopher Gortner’s novels. And this one was no exception. He is highly knowledgeable in the Renaissance period and this comes through strongly in this latest novel. The beautiful prose, blended with bountiful detailed descriptions, make this novel a delight to read. His uncanny ability to delve deep into the thoughts of the historical figure he writes about is what truly brings to life his main characters. 

If you have never read one of C.W. Gortner’s novels, then this is a good one to start with. Queen Isabella was the mother of Juana, the main character in another of Gortner’s novels, The Last Queen. And don’t forget to pick up The Confessions of Catherine de Medici! He truly is a talented author with a knack from bringing these famous women to life. Very Highly recommended.

From History and Women

1 comment:

C.W. Gortner said...

Dear Mirella,
Thank you so much for this lovely and beautifully written review. I'm deeply honored by your praise and sincerely hope your readers enjoy THE QUEEN'S VOW.