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Paperback: 724 pages
Publisher: University Press of the Pacific (December 29, 2003)
This is the first book that Prescott wrote before the books on the conquests of Mexico and Peru.
If you have read those books you will find that the voice is recognizably Prescott's, including his Americanisms ( "cooped up") and verbal tics ("agreeably to his last wishes" "and this, whether we consider" "and this, notwithstanding that... ) The style is maybe less soaring, a bit stiffer perhaps than in those books , but this is narrative writing of a very high order indeed - of considerable clarity, exactness, polish and momentum .
Note though his project is different than in the books about Mexico and Peru. The book is not as tightly organized because he is writing a history not of a conquest but of a reign. He has to account for everything of importance that happened while they reigned, terminating with their deaths. Also Ferdinand survived Isabella by more than ten years so he has to do w/o his central heroine for the last half of Volume Three. Indeed it has a kind of sprawl to it redolent of an age when people had much more time to read. Isabella and Ferdinand don't get born until the middle of Volume One , and there are long sections on the literature of the period that consist of careful assessments of writers untranslated and largely unknown in the Anglophone world. For every battle of every war( the "War of the Succession" the war of reconquest against the Grenadine Moors , the wars with France for the control of the Kingdom of Naples, et al.)you get to find out how many foot soldiers and how many cavalry each side had and how each opposing side deployed their forces in the middle left and right.
His idolization of Isabella becomes a bit mawkish at times but he seems to have needed a central figure around which to organize his narrative.Read more ›
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