Heather's Reviews > The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile

The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner
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Jun 12, 12

bookshelves: 16th-c, arc, ferdinand-and-isabella, historical-fiction, spain
Read from June 03 to 10, 2012

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.

This book was received for review from the publisher - I was not compensated for my opinions and the above is my honest review.
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06/03/2012 page 36
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