Author: C.W. Gortner
Published: Ballantine Books; July 2013
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Synopsis: 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 Take: Having been a fan of C.W. Gortner's Elizabeth I Spymasters Chronicles series, having read both The Tudor Secret and The Tudor Conspiracy (click titles for my reviews), I was excited to read something else of Gortner's from a different locale.
The Queen's Vow takes place in Spain, during the reigns of Enrique III of Castile, Enrique IV of Castile, and finally Isabella of Castile, of whom this story centers upon. One of the reasons this novel interested me so is because I know very little about Spanish history. Quiz me on the King's and Queen's of England and I probably know far more than is really necessary. Quiz me on the King's and Queen's of Spain, however, and you will probably be met with blank stares. So you could say that The Queen's Vow was both an interesting story for me to read while also serving as a pretty interesting history lesson as well.
When The Queen's Vow opens, Isabella is but a young girl, living in the castle with her father the King, whom she rarely sees, her mother who she doesn't see much either, and her brother who she plays with all of the time. Soon her father passes away and Isabella and her family are forced to live far away from the castle in somewhat less refined digs. However Isabella and her brother Alfonso are quite happy living the country life.
However one day the current King, and Isabella and Alfonso's half-brother, calls them back to court to welcome the birth of his daughter. What should be a happy occasion is in fact fraught with turmoil. There is question as to the true parentage of his daughter and the King's wife is a bit of a tyrant. However, while at the castle she is reintroduced to Fernando of Aragon, the sometimes warring faction of another part of Spain. These two have an immediate attraction, although they are young enough to not necessarily recognize it.
For those of you who may read this and not know much about the history as I did, I don't want to reveal too much more. Suffice it to say that what follows is a fascinating look into Spanish history as two kingdoms combine their realms, deal with the major battles of the day, and usher Spain into a new era filled with far away conquests. If you like sweeping historical sagas, then you can't be much more entertained than you will be with The Queen's Vow.
For other opinions on this novel, please check out the rest of the Historical Fiction Virtual Tour.
Cover Lust: I love this cover! I prefer it when novels speak to the era but allow me to imagine what the people actually looked like.