The Queen’s Vow by C.W. Gortner is an absorbing and utterly time consuming book. And, I mean that in the best possible way. I could scarcely put it down as it was so rich in detail that the more I read, the more I became pulled in, immersed and lost. What a wonderful place to be set adrift.
The story is about Isabella of Castille. I knew very little of her before – being a Tudorphile, I know more of her daughter, Katherine. What little I did know pertained to Columbus and the Inquisition. I had no idea she had to fight so hard for her throne. She had so much strength, so much pride. But, she was also very complicated and flawed. I appreciate that she was written as such. I dislike reading a novel that either shows a character as all good or all bad. Christopher has blended her traits well and turned her into a truly fascinating historical figure.
Mr. Gortner weaves a wonderful tale in The Queen’s Vow. I found myself often rereading sentences and yes, sometimes full paragraphs because the vivid descriptiveness was so beautiful that I wanted to experience it a second time. I think he captured Isabella’s surroundings perfectly and described them in such a way that would have made her proud. It was as if he was writing them through her eyes and all the love she had came shining through. It’s apparent he’s been to these places and loves them, too. I can’t say enough good things about the book – it’s a triumph, much like Isabella herself.
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.
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.
This book was sent to me in exchange for my honest review via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. To see more of the tour, click HERE.