Heather's Reviews > Isabel the Queen: Life and Times

Isabel the Queen by Peggy K. Liss
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's review
Jan 12, 2016

really liked it
bookshelves: 15th-c, 16th-c, e-book, ferdinand-and-isabella, for-school, inquisition, non-fiction, spain

My knowledge of Isabel, Queen of Castile, has been limited to what you learn about her involvement in the “discovery” of the Americas and the Inquisition and the fictional interpretation of her life in The Queen’s Vow by C.W. Gortner. I endeavored to read this book as an assignment from class and selected it from the class syllabus, but I was very pleased to find out that this book was referenced as one of Gortner’s sources in his novel.

Isabel the Queen brings the reader into the world of Isabel by introducing the rule and times of her father, Juan, and half-brother, Enrique. The author includes this information as a means of establishing what Isabel had as her professional examples and to show the differences when Isabel became the Queen. I think that this worked well, but I did get a little tired reading statements like, “and it proved a costly mistake whose lessons would not be lost on Isabel” (Kindle loc. 757). The author makes it VERY clear with these kinds of statements to draw the divisions between Isabel and her brother especially.

This book was chock full of information on not just Isabel as a person, but also the world of Spain and Europe around her. It was very dense and not a book that you finish in a short period of time, believe me, it will take you awhile to read it all; this is certainly more of a research book than a fun reading book. However, you will come away from it with a new knowledge and appreciation of the time.

Any discussion of Isabel inevitably wades in the water of controversy with the portrayal of the Columbus expedition as well as the handling of the Spanish Inquisition and persecution of the Jews and Muslims. Liss doesn’t shy away from these controversial subject and does lay out the information, both positive and negative, but she doesn’t take a firm stance in either direction. As the book was originally published around the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ expedition and then was republished around the 500th anniversary of the death of Isabel it makes sense that she treads carefully around these subjects in order to take advantage of these dates.

I came away from this book with a much more concrete sense of who Isabel was as a person and as a Queen. I would recommend this book, but just know it might be a little denser than you are looking for.

This review was previously featured on The Maiden's Court blog.
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Reading Progress

January 12, 2016 – Started Reading
January 12, 2016 – Shelved
January 12, 2016 –
4.0% "Reading this one for an essay for school, takes the fun out of it a bit. But easy to read so far." (Hardcover Edition)
January 19, 2016 –
7.0% "Well this is going to be a long week...I need this finished and some outside research and paper written before weekend after this coming one...and I'm at 7%." (Hardcover Edition)
January 20, 2016 –
10.0%
January 25, 2016 –
16.0%
January 27, 2016 –
22.0% "OMG this reads SO slow!!!"
January 29, 2016 –
40.0%
February 2, 2016 –
48.0%
February 8, 2016 – Finished Reading
February 20, 2016 – Shelved as: 15th-c
February 20, 2016 – Shelved as: 16th-c
February 20, 2016 – Shelved as: e-book
February 20, 2016 – Shelved as: ferdinand-and-isabella
February 20, 2016 – Shelved as: for-school
February 20, 2016 – Shelved as: inquisition
February 20, 2016 – Shelved as: non-fiction
February 20, 2016 – Shelved as: spain

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