The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile

The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile

by C. W. Gortner
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The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile by C. W. Gortner

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.

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Praise for The Queen’s Vow
“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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345523976
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/02/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 171,077
Product dimensions: 5.44(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.88(d)

About the Author

C. W. Gortner’s historical novels have garnered international praise and been translated into fourteen languages. He divides his time between Northern California and Antigua, Guatemala.

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The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
JessicaKnauss More than 1 year ago
The Queen's Vow starts with a bang and ends on an almost philosophical note that really put me in the year 1492, on the brink of uniting the world's hemispheres at long last. Oh, those middles. Especially as the narrative draws to a close, there are more and more patches of time that are reported in a not very engaging way. It seemed the author got exhausted by the incredible demands of the subject matter. If he had had the time two or three books would have given him, he could have covered all the material as vividly as he does in the beginning. I have a PhD in medieval Spanish, so the basic story is all too familiar to me, and I hoped this book could send me back in time to viscerally witness the events as they unfolded. Many scenes are very successful, but they're laced together with straight explanations that needed a little something extra. In particular, I would really have liked to see a lot more of Torquemada, the most controversial figure in a book full of controversial figures. He's portrayed as a ghoul who shows up at three different points to scare Isabella into setting up the Spanish Inquisition and expelling the Jews from her newly united Spain. I thought it was a missed opportunity to explore exactly what forces would make a person a proponent of such policies, but the character is so complex, he probably needs his own book anyway. It would also be really nice if more historians would point out for the general public that Spain was the last European country to establish such an inquisition. These institutions were already at work in every other European country. Of course, it lasted a lot longer after that in Spain, but that's another story. Isabel's female psychology seemed to be just out of reach of the author at times. When she says that she'd like to do all the things a man can do, it seemed like something a man would think a woman would say. Perhaps Isabel la Católica did indeed think women should have all the same advantages as men, but I suspect strongly that she would express it differently, or not at all, just putting on the armor and having done with it because of her obvious pragmatism. On a more technical note, I'd like to explain that the "don" title in Spanish works the same way as "sir" in English: it's used with the first name. Just as "Sir Elton" and "Sir Elton John" are correct but "Sir John" (in this case) would be an enormous gaffe, so "Don Antonio" and "Don Antonio de Nebrija" are fine, while "Don de Nebrija" is jarringly wrong. This is easy to get right and I hope more editors will get wind of this as more Spanish-themed manuscripts cross their desks. I was very excited about this book and enjoyed reading it, but I think my expectations might have been too high. So, love this book for the overwhelmingly iconic time it portrays and for the possibility it presents of getting inside the head of one of history's most interesting people. Love it because of the affection with which the author writes about Spain, which normally doesn't get much notice in historical fiction in English (except as a religious fanatic bad guy with lots of galleons to rob). Love it for the intense descriptions at the beginning of the book and the beautifully imagined personalities of Fernando of Aragon and Christopher Columbus. And hope that next time, the author doesn't take on quite so much material, because I think that is this book's main downfall.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was well written, but kind of a let down-not exactly meeting the expectations set forth by ratings & reviews. Definatly worth readimg if you love history as I do, however I felt the author wasted half the book on Isabella's younger years than on her actual reign, marriage, accomplishments.....the actual fight to unite Spain under one monarchy was hastily done...... 3/5 stars from Tisha Sanders
PeanutJim More than 1 year ago
Very much enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading more from Mr. Gortner! I had known virtually nothing of Isabella of Castille, so this fascinating glimpse into the world of the Spanish Royals was quite enlightening.
Kaui05 More than 1 year ago
Holding a new novel by C.W. Gortner in your hands is like the excitement felt the night before a long awaited trip. The anticipation of embarking on a new literary adventure is tremendous, and once the novel has begun, each turn of the page is a moment to be savored... The Queen's Vow is no exception to this type of delight. From the first page of this enthralling novel, the reader is given a heartfelt introduction to one of histories most empowering women, Isabella of Castile. Her life was surrounded by chaos and the ever looming threat of danger, but had her destiny been known to the political leaders of her time, her life wold have been in even more peril. Since this was not the case, everyone, including Isabella, thought there was little use for her beyond that of a political marriage. But when a sudden turn of events puts her within reach of the crown, she must utilize her innate strength and wisdom in order to prove worthy of her natural right. Told in elegant prose, and steep in historical detail, The Queen's Vow illuminates the life of Isabella flawlessly. The three dimensional characters are vastly different, allowing the reader to form a unique connection with each one. In addition to this, like Gortner's other novels, it is amazing how each character can demand so much of the readers attention without ever taking away from the emphasis on the main character. There is no need for any foreknowledge of Isabella of Castile or the Spanish Inquisition in order to fully comprehend and immerse yourself within this book. In fact, even if you are well versed in these subjects, there is still so much to gain by reading this exceptional literary work. I highly recommend The Queen's Vow to anyone who takes pleasure in historical fiction while receiving a fascinating history lesson; it will no doubt hold a special place in your library.
librarysusie More than 1 year ago
I have read a lot of books about the Tudors and The Romanovs but have never delved into Spanish Royalty so this book was extra fascinating to me. This book was so well written I really enjoyed it and as I have said I love a historical fiction book that’s makes me want to do more research. I also plan on reading Gortner’s The Last Queen about Isabella’s daughter Juana. I found this book so fascinating and I learned much about Spanish Royalty and how Spain was united. It was also fascinating to learn about Catherine of Aragon’s mother since I have read so much Tudor historical fiction. This was my first book by, C.W. Gortner and will not be my last I plan on reading everything he has written because his writing is fabulous he kept me interested from beginning to end, this book never got dull and held me rapt it was hard to put down. I know this is Historical Fiction and Mr. Gortner has said he took a few liberties but I really want to think that Isabel didn’t want to enforce the Spanish Inquisition I liked her I thought she was an amazingly strong woman especially considering her mother was a little well, crazy, maybe today she would be manic or bi-polar and be on meds but at that time in history there was no such thing. I liked the fact that she chose her own husband (even though there were a few liberties taken with their story) I thought they made a great power couple their styles of rule complemented each other very well. With the hints we got in this book about Juana’s personality I am going to go right into reading The Last Queen while this one is fresh in my mind. 4 ½ Stars
Paperback_Princess More than 1 year ago
I have to admit that I was drawn to this book by both the historical fiction as well as the beautiful dress that graced the cover. I've never read much about the Spanish royals, so this was an entirely new section of history for me to read about. Usually when it comes to history I can be a stickler for the facts, but in this case, there was no way for me to do that because I didn't really know this era or these royals, so I cannot attest to the historical accuracy, but I can say that it was a beautifully woven story that had me not wanting to put the book down. At times I hated that I had to go to work because I just wanted to know if Isabella was going to prevail over her half brother or if she was going to stay locked in her rooms a prisoner of his capricious wife. I think one of my favorite parts of this book was that Isabella and Ferdinando seemed to really be in love as opposed to most royals who have an arranged marriage and they make it work. Just looking at Enrique and his wife Johanna, who both had very different proclivities, but were forced to stay together for the worse of the realm. Gortner does an amazing job painting the trials and tribulations that Isabella and Ferdinando face as they struggle to make a united front and prove their right to rule. I was rooting for the two of them as I read, but I was also rooting for Isabella to find her own voice and for her to come into her own right as queen, and what a marvelous job she did. I will definitely be reading more for Gortner, who paints such a wonderful and enticing picture of history.
Marcie77 More than 1 year ago
sabella of Castille is a historical figure that I would think most people are familiar with. If, of course, you paid attention in history class. She is an intriguing person because she did what other women of her time weren't allowed to do: She took her fate into her own hands. In this novel, C.W. explores the life of Isabella, from childhood to adult. Her father died when she was very young. As the kings sister, she grew up knowing what her life might behold. She had no real political desires of her own. However as fate would have it, she was destined to rule. She stood up to those who would resign her to a life not of her choosing. She married for love and ruled a kingdom. C.W. Gortner has written a highly entertaining novel about Isabella's life. The book begins when she is a young girl who is brought to court after many years away to celebrate the birth of her brother's heir. She's not accustomed to all the finery, the intrigue, the scandal, and the backstabbing. However it's at this court she meets Fernando, prince of Aragon, the one she is not only destined to rule with but also to unite their kingdoms . They have an instant connection but it seems for a time, fate has other plans. Their road to be together is paved by war and scandal. Isabella has to deal with her brother, King Enrique, who wants to marry her off to secure his kingdom. Defying him is an act of treason. This novel has many ups and downs. It's a fascinating and emotional journey about one of the most famous queens in history. Gortner brings to light fascinating details that help seal Isabella's historical legacy. This is a book I would recommend to all you history lovers out there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this author and this book met all expectations!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the part where the Borgia pope was mentioned.
MsDollie More than 1 year ago
The Queen's Vow was another great novel by C W Gartner! I have only one more of his books to read and already know I will anticipate the next.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story while fictional gave me a historical references that made me want to learn more about this great queen and role in history. It's very well written and will keep you captivated from one great event to another. I was fascinated by the will and strength of the main character. The fact that she was real and these events happened made this book an adventure I couldn't wait to get back.
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The book was exciting but some of the Spanish throws you off. I would recommend to historical fiction readers as well as CW. Gortner's other books. Not so much for Book club discussion though.
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PenelopeSue More than 1 year ago
liked it!