Book Review: The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner

As you know, I am a regular reader of everything that C.W. Gortner has written ... and I've reviewed it here ... so I was so excited that yesterday I got to interview him about the new book and get to know more about the man behind the pages and today I'm going to share my thoughts on his latest book,The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile.

From the Publisher:

No one believed I was destined for greatness.

So begins Isabella’s story, in this evocative, vividly imagined novel about one of history’s most famous and controversial queens—the warrior who united a fractured country, the champion of the faith whose reign gave rise to the Inquisition, and the visionary who sent Columbus to discover a New World. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner envisages the turbulent early years of a woman whose mythic rise to power would go on to transform a monarchy, a nation, and the world.

Young Isabella is barely a teenager when she and her brother are taken from their mother’s home to live under the watchful eye of their half-brother, King Enrique, and his sultry, conniving queen. There, Isabella is thrust into danger when she becomes an unwitting pawn in a plot to dethrone Enrique. Suspected of treason and held captive, she treads a perilous path, torn between loyalties, until at age seventeen she suddenly finds herself heiress of Castile, the largest kingdom in Spain. Plunged into a deadly conflict to secure her crown, she is determined to wed the one man she loves yet who is forbidden to her—Fernando, prince of Aragon.

As they unite their two realms under “one crown, one country, one faith,” Isabella and Fernando face an impoverished Spain beset by enemies. With the future of her throne at stake, Isabella resists the zealous demands of the inquisitor Torquemada even as she is seduced by the dreams of an enigmatic navigator named Columbus. But when the Moors of the southern domain of Granada declare war, a violent, treacherous battle against an ancient adversary erupts, one that will test all of Isabella’s resolve, her courage, and her tenacious belief in her destiny.

From the glorious palaces of Segovia to the battlefields of Granada and the intrigue-laden gardens of Seville, The Queen’s Vow sweeps us into the tumultuous forging of a nation and the complex, fascinating heart of the woman who overcame all odds to become Isabella of Castile.

My Review:

For those of you who regularly read Acting Balanced, you know that I always ask my interviewees who they would invite to a dinner party... if you could have 4 people ... real or fictional, living or dead... and  I can honestly say that I think it would be amazing to have Isabella of Castile, Elizabeth I of England, Catherine the Great and Catherine de Medici all at my dinner table... could you imagine the insights and discussions?

I think it's fascinating that C.W. Gortner can take the piles of facts that are recorded history and flesh out a character's thoughts and actions based on black and white and create not only the shades of grey in between, but produce a rainbow effect that shines throughout the book.

Isabella of Castile is such a complex and intriguing woman who has to overcome some pretty impressive obstacles and make some truly tough and world altering decisions and C.W. Gortner takes us on that journey in a way that just keeps drawing me back to the story and making me wish I could have just curled up and read the book cover to cover without interruptions.

If you love a book with great historical characters, intrigue and tension you are going to want to add The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile to your TBR pile!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review.  All opinions are my own.