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The Last Queen

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  10,042 ratings  ·  684 reviews
Juana of Castile, the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country's throne, has been for centuries an enigmatic figure shrouded in lurid myth. Was she the bereft widow of legend who was driven mad by her loss, or has history misjudged a woman who was ahead of her time? In his stunning new novel, C. W. Gortner challenges the myths about Queen Juana, unraveling the my ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published July 29th 2008 by Ballantine Books (first published July 1st 2006)
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Ewa Not quite sure where graphic begins for you. Certainly It may be disturbing for some because there are rape scenes here, not very detailed but still,

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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  10,042 ratings  ·  684 reviews

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Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have come to the conclusion after reading this novel that to be a women born into royalty, up until present times, was a curse rather than a privilege. Women were used as pawns in a human chess match. I lost many hours of sleep reading hoping that something, anything, would go in Juana's favor (note: I forced myself not to use Google to see how it all would played out). Even the most stable of people would loose any semblance of sanity after the events she endured. Sane or not, in the end, she ...more
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
The last Queen a Novel by C.W. Gortner tells the moving tale of Juana la Loca (the mad).

" She was if nothing else an extraordinary figure for her time"

I love Historical Fiction but am not a fan of novels about the English Throne and was delighted when I came across this Novel which brings to life Juana of Castile, the third child of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain. who would become the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country's throne. This is a gripping and moving tale
Sep 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys novels about strong women
If you're an Anglophile, or enjoy biographies of queens, you undoubtedly know the story of Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife. Catherine's sister was Juana of Castile, known in Spain as Juana la Loca. C.W. Gortner could have called his historical novel, The Last Queen, the lost queen or the forgotten queen. As he says in the outstanding commentary on his website, Juana of Castile, the last queen of Spain, is almost unknown outside of Spain.

It doesn't hurt to listen to his commentary be
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only thing I knew about Isabella of Spain was that she financed Christopher Columbus’ voyage and her daughter, Catherine, was King Henry VIII’s wife. I did not know anything about another daughter, Juana, until I read this book. That being said, Gortner wrote a different and intriguing view of Juana. He gave her power, passion, and strength in this novel since her “madness” has often been disputed. I also enjoyed learning about the time period, the monarchies, the politics and the ruthlessne ...more
Kate Quinn
Apr 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
C.W. Gortner has one of the more interesting literary platforms I've ever seen for a historical fiction writer, particularly a male one: he takes the maligned women of history and gives them a sympathetic makeover. Not to say he merely takes a historical villainess and paints her white - he seeks merely to uncover and understand. His subject here is Juana the Mad, the famous daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain who trailed all over the nation weeping dementedly behind her husband's coffin ...more
AFTER READING: Wow, another 5 star book. F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S! First let me mention that the status updates are wrong. There are 428 pages in this book! Now, I will try and summarize a teeny bit why I loved it, and let me say I am hooked, bait, line and sinker; I have to read more about the royal history. It is not fluff and swooning love affairs, and banquets and fancy clothing. At least not in this book. It is about what motivates people. All of us - both the common and the royal classes. Both toda ...more
Aug 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: european-history
I went back and forth on whether this was a two or three star rating for me. The beginning of the book is nicely written drawing the reader into the story as seen through the eyes of a very young Juana. The middle however started to become much too modernized for my personal taste. I felt like the author's writing was too forced and just didn't flow well. Some of the thoughts attributed to Juana were just too contrived and what I felt would have been unrealistic for a Queen of that time period.

Amateur de Livre
Jul 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
Book Synopsis:

Juana of Castile, the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country’s throne, has been for centuries and enigmatic figure shrouded in lurid myth. Was she the berefet widow of legend who was driven mad by her loss, or has history misjudged a woman who was ahead of her time? In his stunning new novel, C.W. Gortner challenges the myths about Queen Juana, unraveling the mystery surrounding her to reveal a brave, determined woman we can only now begin to fully understand.

The third
One word: remarkable. This describes not only "Juana the Mad" herself, but also C.W. Gortner's novel. In all honesty, I find Gortner to be hit-or-miss but The Last Queen is certainly a hit.

In this novel, Gortner not only grasps Juana and her life's turmoils in a smooth and entertaining way, but he also dives deeper into the emotional pool and throws elements of both female and human naturistic struggles and psychological effects into the mix. Was Juana born crazy? Was she driven to that point b
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I liked this. I think this is my first C.W. Gortner book and I look forward to reading more. I loved the history in this, especially about Spain. I found that part fascinating. I think this queen had a particularly sad life. Her life was such a fight with battle after battle. I found that I felt frustrated for her. And I liked the different take on this one, making her less of a mad woman, like other books I've read have portrayed her. This one seemed less like she was "crazy". The "Mad" label w ...more
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Review follows later 🌷🌷🌷
Sara W
I gave this book two stars because I personally only thought it was okay, but I can see why other people would like it. This book reenforced my belief that I do not really enjoy reading fiction. I like history, and I like to learn, so I enjoy historical fiction that sticks close to the facts and close to what a majority of historians would agree happened - pretty much non-fiction with dialogue. I do not enjoy historical fiction that sensationalizes history by making things up or that takes a sma ...more
Jul 14, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An interesting idea, but poorly executed. Juana comes over as much too modern, and the characters a rather two dimensional. The whole thing becomes tedious about a third of the way through.
Amy Bruno
Juana of Castile's life began amidst war, in between Spain's battle with the Moors, and her beginning would prove to be just as stormy as the rest of her life.

Born to the incomparable Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, Juana is the third child and second daughter. She is raised on the battlefield with arrows flying overhead and witnesses the fall of Granada in her youth.

When the matter of marriage to Philip of Hapsburg is raised, Juana is not happy at all to have to leave Spain a
Oct 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
I loved this book and will now seek out other books by this author. He paints a wonderful picture of "Juana the Mad". Through reading it, I only could wonder was she really mad, or did her husband and father, and those she loved and trusted create the fallacy that she was mad in order to take the thrown that was rightfully hers after her sister and brother's passing?

This book was very eloquently written. The author makes, what could be very difficult to understand, comprehensible for even the m
Nov 18, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
I didn't even finish this one. I guess it is okay but the problem is that I have read so many of this tragic queen books. She's forced by the status of royalty into a marriage; he's awful and cheats on her (as if any royal woman didn't know this stuff went on back then). Power struggle. Yadda yadda. The writing is good, don't get me wrong, I just started to feel like I've read this historical book before.
Rio (Lynne)
Jul 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up because it was a bargain book. I never expected to love it and find a new author! Juana was a strong woman, ahead of her time. What she went through was disturbing. I know all about Tudor history and about her sister (Catharine of Aragon/Queen of England) but I knew nothing about Juana. I'm so glad C.W. Gortner brought her story to life! I can't wait to read his newest "The Confessions of Catherine de Medici."

Feb 26, 2015 rated it liked it
I really liked The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by this author. However, this book is pretty descriptive and I struggled to connect with it.

If you're looking for more option to read about Juana of Castile, I recommend Reign of Madness by Lynn Cullen.
Sharon Penman
Jul 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
I would definitely recommend this book. Juana is one of history's more tragic figures and Christopher does justice to her sad and compelling story.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars raised to 4. Fascinating fictional biography of Juana la Loca, Spanish queen in 16th-century Spain, a daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella. The author guided us well through court politics and intrigues of Europe of that time. Juana is married off to Archduke Philip of Flanders, who turns on her--first from a loving and loved husband to a greedy and ambitious one, who wants to seize the throne of Spain for himself. She fights him for her legacy and the author details her descent into "ma ...more
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hf-euro, 2000s, iberia
Have had mixed luck connecting with Gortner's historical interpretations. Liked this enough for re-read. Maybe.
Juana's mama has taken her to the remote castle where Juana's grandmother exists, imprisoned by Isabel long ago. Here be quotes:
p41 - "Only my grandmother's head and upper torso were visible ... She looked so still, so insubstantial, I thought she must be dead. I forced myself to take a step closer. Something unheard, perhaps the brush of my fingers against the tester curtain or click o
Nov 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: royalty, favorites, 2011
History writes off the infamous Juana 'la loca' as the insane Queen of Castile. However, C.W. Gortner finally gives voice to this courageous woman and the possibilty that her madness was not inherited but a result of years of torment, abuse, isolation and the final cruel blows of betrayl by the men she loved and trusted.
Books such as this are a subtle reminder that ''His''tory can be a clever instrument to suppress the truth of the greedy and ambitious.
Another great book by C.W. Gortner, which took him 7 years of research providing his personal point of view on Juana´s story.
Feb 19, 2009 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
THE LAST QUEEN trade paperback, with a special reader group guide and author Q&A. ...more
Oct 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had to say I loved this book. A lot. I liked how Juana stood out from the rest of her sisters and it was nice to see Catalina (afterwards becoming Catherine of Aragon) have a "cameo" appearence in the story. Juana is very headstrong, and despite what she goes through, she manages to be steadfast and it was as if nothing could break her. I admired Juana a lot in this book. I liked how the relationship between Juana and Philip started. It was lovely and reminded me a lot of the love between Cata ...more
Mercedes Rochelle
Mar 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Juana of Castile, known to most of us as Joanna the Mad, is a sad and interesting study, especially since historians don’t even agree whether she was mad or not. C.W. Gortner has painted a sympathetic portrait of this tragic princess, tugged this way and that by self-interested parties who would probably have been just as willing to throw her away—except that she held the key to the kingdom. Torn from the dubious comfort of her family as soon as she was marriageable, the reluctant Juana was sent ...more
Aug 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Well written. Kept my attention.

I became more than vaguely interested in Juana when I read Isabella: The Warrior Queen by Kirstin Downey. Downey has done extensive research about Isabella, aqueen and mother. So Downey included significant discussion of Juana, giving an explanation of Juana's seemingly or truly odd behaviors. The explanations of Juana Downey gave seemed solid.

When I saw a historical novel was written about Juana, I had to read it. More information will be provided, a better and
You know, I'm going to watch the movie about Juana the Mad. It was far more entertaining than this PC Juana.
“And so tonight, I will bear witness to the past, I will inscribe everything I have lived and seen, everything I have done, every secret I have hidden. I will remember, because a queen can never forget.” (Prologue)

Reading about royalty and queens and the lineages of power is a not so secret fascination and passion of mine and a genre I frequent a lot--reading about those in power just makes me happy and of course King Henry VIII and his wives are my favorites, all queens and historical fiction w
Oct 04, 2008 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
The 1492 conquest of Granada makes for high adventure and royal intrigue in this second sparkling historical from Gortner (The Secret Lion). Spanish Princess Juana, 13, watches as her parents, King Fernando and Queen Isabel, unite Spain, vanquish Moors and marry their children off to foreign kingdoms for favorable alliances: Princess Catalina becomes first wife to Henry VIII; Princess Juana, who narrates, is shipped off to marry Philip of Flanders, heir to the Hapsburg Emp
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Bestselling author C.W. Gortner holds an MFA in Writing, with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies. Raised in Spain and half Spanish by birth, he currently lives in Northern California. His books have been translated in over 20 languages to date.

He welcomes readers and is always available for reader group chats. Please visit him at for more information.

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