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The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile Hardcover – June 12, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (June 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345523962
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345523969
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Guest Reviewer: Michelle Moran on C.W. Gortner's The Queen's Vow

Michelle Moran is the international bestselling author of Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, Cleopatra's Daughter, and Madame Tussaud. Her fifth novel The Second Empress will be published in 2012. Michelle’s experiences at archaeological sites around the world inspired her to write historical fiction.

I love how C.W. Gortner chooses maligned women in history and re-examines them in his novels within the context of their era. In The Queen’s Vow, he has done it again, creating a mesmerizing and unforgettable portrait of Isabella of Castile. For all her fame, Isabella is often misunderstood. She’s either revered as a near-saint or despised as a religious intolerant. Of course, most of us know she sent Christopher Columbus to America, but few of us have been told the amazing story of her youth, when Spain was a broken kingdom and she just a forgotten princess, whom no one expected to rule.

It is the mid-1400s. In Europe, most countries are united under one ruler. But in Spain, ancient divisions between the kingdoms of Castile and Aragón, and violent feuds between nobles, have created anarchy. Isabella is the daughter of an exiled widow, and she and her younger brother Alfonso live far from court in the countryside. Their royal father is dead; their mother haunted by the past; and their half brother, Castile’s new king, barely reigns, dominated by his favorites and his conniving, beautiful queen.

Then Isabella and Alfonso are sent to court, where they soon become pawns in a vicious struggle for power. Accused of treason, Isabella is held a prisoner, while her brother leads a rebellion. But when tragedy strikes, Isabella suddenly is named heir to the throne, though no woman before her has successfully ruled for long. As she embarks on a perilous path toward the throne, she indulges a forbidden desire for Prince Fernando of Aragón— a desire that pits her against her half brother the king and his ruthless nobles, all of whom seek her downfall. Can she marry the man she loves and still remain a sovereign queen? And how will she win over all her sworn enemies and restore peace in Spain after centuries of intrigue and discord?

Gortner vividly recreates the turmoil of Isabella’s youth and the striking contrasts of the country she knew, where the last Moors cling to their faded realm in the south and different cultures merge in uneasy alliance. Isabella’s stormy rise to power and quest to become a worthy queen are stunningly described, but what makes Gortner’s Isabella so unique is that while she is brave and daring, she is also conflicted— a fallible woman exercising her power in a traditionally male-dominated world. In her, we can see ourselves. She is like us: passionate and hopeful, proud yet doubtful, compelled to fight for what she believes in. Though The Queen’s Vow doesn’t shy away from the terrible decisions she chooses to make, it reminds us that in the end, Isabella was human, a woman of conviction and strength in a time of upheaval, who forged her destiny despite every odd, to become Spain’s most beloved queen.


Review

“A masterwork by a skilled craftsman . . . Make a vow to read this book.”—New York Journal of Books
 
“A beautifully crafted piece of historical fiction . . . Gortner’s vivid details blend with his deeply intensive research to re-create Isabella and Castile in a way that the reader will find compelling and immersive, bringing not just the Queen but the whole nation to life.”—RT Book Reviews
 
“A fascinating story . . . Through his creative and spellbinding storytelling, Gortner’s readers come to know Isabella intimately in mind, heart and body as she lives through a tumultuous time, her intense longing to be the determiner of her own unique destiny.”—Wichita Falls Times Record News
 
“A novel of triumph as Isabella vanquishes her enemies one by one . . . [She is] a very human and appealing character.”—The Roanoke Times
 
“Politically charged, passionate . . . [a] well-researched, intriguing historical.”—Bookreporter

More About the Author

C.W. Gortner holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California. In his extensive travels to research his books, he has experienced life in a Spanish castle and danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall. Half-Spanish by birth, he lives in Northern California. His novels have been translated in 20 countries to date.

C.W. enjoys talking to book groups. To schedule a chat or find out more about his work, visit: http://www.cwgortner.com

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Customer Reviews

Gortner has obviously researched his subject very well.
Arwen
The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner is a story of Isabella of Castille and her life from a young girl from 1484 to Queen of Spain in 1492.
Kathleen Kelly
I think this book is a very good read as well as an important one.
Sara O'Connor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Julie Lovisa VINE VOICE on May 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Being a huge Tudor-phile, I was excited for the chance to read a novel about Isabel of Castile, the mother of Catherine of Aragon. Portrayed in history as a warrior queen who ruthlessly set the inquisition upon her Jewish converso subjects, this book took a slightly milder tack, showing her as a woman as concerned for her people as she was for her children and reluctant to allow Tomas Torquemada to unleash the inquisition among the Jewish people that she relied upon.

The novel starts with Isabel's childhood in exile as her ineffectual half-brother allows noblemen to have their way in the realm and is swayed by the influence of his lovers. When she meets her eventual husband, Ferdinand of Aragon, her steeliness begins to exert itself as she swears she will marry no other, regardless of what her brother has in mind for her. When her brother dies, she becomes queen of Castile and thus begins her battles with a would-be usurper and to unite all of the surrounding kingdoms under the banner of Spain. This includes an extended crusade to bring the Moorish infidels of Granada finally under their rule where many others had failed.

As Isabel and Ferdinand borrow money from their Jewish moneylenders to finance their wars, they are confronted by Torquemada who requires that they expel all Jews from Spain and burn the heretic conversos who claim to have converted to Christianity yet continue to celebrate their Jewish faith. Isabel feels great reluctance in bringing this upon her subjects, but her solid Catholic faith convinces her that doing so will save her and her kingdom from eternal hellfire. Toward the end of the novel Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus) entreaties her for money and blessings to cross the Ocean Sea and discover alternate trade routes for the Spanish.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Rothwell VINE VOICE on April 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I loved every part of this novel. It's one of those books that has you turning page after page, so absorbed in the story that you lose all track of time. C.W. Gortner has a very smooth writing style, and the crafting of his central character is wonderful. He makes it easy for the reader to establish a connection with Isabella, whilst at the same time maintaining a distance that allows us to keep historical perspective. He has inspired me to look at all the things I previously knew about her in a different light.
I was initially intrigued to read this novel as I recently read Julia Fox's wonderful dual biography 'Sister Queens', about Isabella's daughters Catherine of Aragon and Juana 'the Mad'. Reading about their mother has granted me a much wider perspective of both her and their lives. Such fascinating women! I especially enjoyed reading Gortner's depiction of Isabella's decisions regarding the Reconquista, the expulsion of the Jews, and also her patronship of Christobal Colon (Christopher Columbus).
Truthfully, I have been somewhat surprised by Gortner's portrayal of Isabella. In many minds one of the things she is primarily known for is the introduction of the Spanish Inquisition, and thus may be regarded as a monster who inflicted torture upon her own people. Whilst showing that she did possess an immense feeling of righteousnous, this novel also shows Isabella to be a woman who did feel sorrow for her actions. Gortner has portrayed a Queen who is not quite as black and white as history would have us believe. Prior to the Alhambra Decree, the expulsion of the Jews, Isabella had showed leniency to the Jewish people and had promoted coexistence amougst her people.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Anne on May 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Most of us are aware that Isabella was the Queen of Spain when Columbus discovered the new world. Many know she is the mother of Katharine of Aragon, Henry VIII's first wife. You may also know and that she and Ferdinand fought a long war to expel the Moors from Spain. However, I did not know how the events from her childhood might have shaped her. Since reading Julia Fox's SISTER QUEENS, (also published by Ballentine) I wanted to read more about their strong-willed mother. In reading C.W. Gortner's, THE QUEEN'S VOW, I was able to look at her life from the death of her father until she gives Columbus permission to make his first voyage.

The novel begins with the death of Isabella's father when she was three. Her mother, Isabel of Portugal was hated by the people and feared for her life and those of her children. Isabel escaped to Avila to reside in the drafty castle, Arevelo. The heir to the throne was King Juan's son from his first marriage Enrique. At the time of his father's death, he did not have any children and so Alfonso was the next in line until he had a son of his own. It was customary for the heir to the throne to stay in the capital, but Isabela knew that she and her children were in danger and must leave immediately. She remains there with her mother and brother until her brother, King Enrique, summons her back to court. At court, she must tread carefully until she learns whom she can trust.

The author gives us a meeting between her and Ferdinand when they were children and from that, moment she knew that would marry him and only him. Anyone who has studied any history of her time know that royal women were never allowed to choose whom they would marry, this was done by their parents or by the King.
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