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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 acclaimed historical novels The Last Queen and The Confessions of Catherine de Medici. He holds an MFA in writing with an emphasis on Renaissance studies from the New College of California.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By nursebettyknitting on 07-30-12
Excellent historical fiction!
I had listened to other books by C.W. Gortner and was expecting a great historical fiction novel. As expected, The Queen's Vow does not disappoint. Rosalyn Landor is one of my favorite narrators, and again, she delivered a great performance. Before reading this, my impression was that queen Isabella was this monster that expelled/killed/demanded conversion of the large Jewish community of Spain. The book forced me to rethink this. I feel like like my knowledge of this period in Spanish history had broadened, and it happened in a most pleasurable way.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
By sara miller on 07-30-12
An Intriguing Take
I know that Isabella is a complicated figure. Both acclaimed and condemned for her legacy and contributions to history. CW Gortner of Confessions of Catherine de Medici tackles her in his latest novel, The Queen’s Vow. The scope of the novel is ambitious and attempts to cover Queen Isabella’s childhood, power struggles with her half-brother, her romance with Ferdinand, the Crusades, her meeting with Christopher Columbus and on and on. The effect is a little unfocused, but allows for a varied depiction of the monarch instead of a more singular betrayal (ie, religious fanatic). The aspects of Isabella’s life that are unflattering like igniting the Spanish inquisition are depicted but breezed over. Gortner allows Isabella to pretty heavily justify her positions. Much of that was hard to read knowing the consequences of Isabella’s choices.
Some things I would have enjoyed reading more about her children particularly Catherine of Aragaon are so briefly skimmed it was disappointing. Juana however is thoroughly explored in Gortner’s novel The Last Queen is given a bigger depiction. However, the book did include a lot of romance and though Isabella and Ferdinand appear to be a rare love match, I still felt Gortner’s treatment was heavy handed.
There is no lacking in drama as Isabella led an sensational life in a tumultuous time. And though I enjoyed much of the novel, and found Gortner’s Isabella interesting though complicated, a pre-existing interest in Isabella or the time helps. Because despite Gortner’s kind treatment Isabella is still a thorny subject and some of her actions are unjustifiably horrific and are irredeemable to modern readers.
If you don’t mind the occasional inconsistent Spanish lisping accent, the narrator, Rosalyn Landor brought really depth to Isabella’s story.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful