Title: The Queen’s Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile
Author: C.W. Gortner
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: June 2012 – Ballantine Books
From the synopsis: No one believed I was destined for greatness.
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.
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 take: The Queen’s Vow is a riveting novel about a determined young woman on her way to becoming Queen of Spain. I thoroughly enjoyed C.W. Gortner’s confident and honorable Isabella. From the start she shouldered responsibility with grace and dignity. She kept her head as she met challenges and made unimaginable decisions with far-reaching consequences for her people. She had good intentions and thought she was carrying out God’s wishes but hindsight shows that even good intentions don’t always bring the desired results.
Gortner’s beautiful writing and exciting story kept me enthralled. Isabella and her husband Fernando spent much of their reign at war. Also, in an effort to convert all non Catholics in their country to Catholicism, they went so far as to begin the Inquisition. Because of the author’s meticulous research and ability to relate the facts with clarity I now have a better understanding of this time in history. Isabella also did good things for Spain. She supported women’s education and the arts and was commited to bringing her country to the same level as the rest of the prominent European countries. For good or bad, Isabella definitely had an impact on her beloved Spain.
The Queen’s Vow is a story of royal intrigue, politics, a touch of romance, and a good deal of controversy. I recommend it to fans of Historical Fiction, Spanish history, and the author. I plan to track down a copy of Gortner’s novel The Last Queen– the story of Isabella’s daughter Juana. After meeting Juana in this book I’m interested in finding out what happened in her lifetime.
♦ ♦ ♦
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.