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

The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner
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's review
Aug 05, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction

Really I would rate this a 3.5 rather than a 4 star read. The novel tells the compelling story of Queen Isabella, an important figure in history that most of us would know as the mother of Henry VIII's first wife, Catherine of Aragon and the patron of Christopher Columbus in his quest to discover a different route to India. I looked forward to reading a novel that would give life and breath to such an historical character and shine light on the beginnings of the Spanish Inquisition, so notorious in modern history. The author did in fact create a real sense of Isabella as a youth and created a convincing portrait of her feelings for her growing love for Fernando, later her husband and of her mother. As the novel progressed the author gives a telling insight into the struggle Isabella had in uniting Spain under one ruler and ousting the Moors from Spanish land. However once the novel progressed from the personal story of her struggle to become queen to the political history of Spain, the reader loses some of the story's depth and the character relationship becomes no more than superficial as the author tries to cover to many years of her reign in too few pages. The novel is reduced to a novel of events, one after the other, and the reader's involvement lessens. The novel ends with one long scene in an effort brings the reader back into the story, the queen's iconic discussion with Christopher Columbus, but for me it rang out only as larger than life figures marking a momentous event rather like a school pageant. The author writes well and I suspect if he had written only about the early years the whole novel would have been as immensely enjoyable as the first third.


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