The Queen's Vow by C. W. Gortner portrays the early life of the woman known to history as Isabella of Castile.
Barely a teenager, Isabella and her brother, Alfonoso, are taken from their mother's home to live under the watchful eye of their half-brother, King Enrique, and his conniving queen. When Isabella becomes a pawn in a plot to dethrone Enrique, she is suspected of treason and held captive. At the age of seventeen, she finds herself heiress of Castile and is plunged into a deadly conflict to secure her crown, while determined to wed the man she loves, Fernando, prince of Aragón.
Isabella and Fernando face difficult times: an impoverished Spain beset by enemies, the demands of the inquisitor Torquemada to punish relapsed conversos, and a declaration of war from the Moors. Isabella's resolve and courage are put to the test as she moves toward fulfilling her God-given destiny.
The Queen's Vow is such a superb book, I'm sorry I didn't read it sooner. I'm even more upset that it's finished, because I want to experience it all over again. Rich descriptions, stunning settings, and a fascinating plot filled with a host of historical figures spring to life through Gortner's masterful hand. While a bit of a slow starter for me, once the puzzle pieces were in place for Isabella to inherit the throne, I became totally engrossed. From the fights to secure her crown to wedding the man of her choosing at a time when women were not given the power to do so, Isabella proved a force to be reckoned with. Her deep faith and willingness to put herself in harm's way led to much admiration.
Reading The Queen's Vow also helped me to have a greater understanding of the origins of Gortner's earlier book, The Last Queen, which is about Isabella and Fernando's daughter, Juana, the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country's throne.
What I was pleased to see with The Queen's Vow is that Gortner ends it at a what I would say a perfect place. After years of war and division, Isabella can look toward the future.
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (July 2, 2013)
I received a free hardcover version of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.
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