The Queen's Vow, by C.W. Gortner

The Queen’s Vow, by C.W. Gortner

Title: The Queen’s Vow
Author: C.W. Gortner
Pages: 382
Originally Published: 2012
Format I Read: Paperback
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Rating: [rating:3]

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I received this book for free from the publisher. All content and opinions are my own.

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for The Queen’s Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile. The Queen’s Vow was originally published in 2012 and is out in paperback now. Here’s the blurb:

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.

I have to say one thing for Mr. Gortner, he certainly knows how to get me through an entire historical book, quickly. With each of the three books of his I’ve read, I’ve raced through. The intrigues and details and narrators are all very compelling. And I was particularly compelled by The Queen’s Vow. Prior to reading this book, I knew only the vaguest outlines of the reign of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. I knew, of course, about Christopher Columbus and their policy of reform. But that’s about it. Now, I know a great deal more. And Gortner’s writing is really fluid. Though it has a modern feel to it at times, the historical details are so well drawn, that I didn’t mind the modern touches in the least.

From an educational and entertainment perspective, this is a really good book. But it did have some limitations. Isabella, the narrator, is presented as an ideal, a person who never strays from her morals, which are firmly entrenched in Catholicism. This limits her character a great deal, as she didn’t really seem real. And in light of the very difficult situations she faced as a princess and as a monarch, it didn’t quite ring true. Further, the divisive issue of the Spanish Inquisition was handled with very light gloves. And, finally, the book didn’t have a strong arc to it. The last half of the book deals rather exhaustively with the Crusade to rid Spain of the Moors, in which my interest started to lag. Of course, this is due in part to staying true to actual historical events.

Despite its limitations, I enjoyed reading The Queen’s Vow, and I have a better understanding of the world of Queen Isabella.

The Queen’s Vow, by C.W. Gortner [rating:3]

See my reviews of C.W. Gortner’s other books:
The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, by C.W. Gortner
The Last Queen, by C.W. Gortner

You can find C.W. Gortner on his website and on Twitter.

Thank you to Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours and Ballantine Books for sending me a review copy of The Queen’s Vow.

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