Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blog Tour and Review: The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner

The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner

Ballantine Books
June 2012
Format: Hardcover, 400 pages

First line: No one believed I was destined for greatness.

From the inside cover: 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 thoughts: Reading historical fiction has become a huge passion of mine and while I tend to gravitate towards anything Tudor-related, I was excited to be given the opportunity to read and review C.W. Gortner's latest book, The Queen's Vow, which explores the life of Isabella of Castille. I didn't know much about Isabella, except for the brief appearances she made in Phillipa Gregory's book, The Constant Princess, which was about Catherine of Aragon, and then more recently in C.W. Gortner's book, The Last Queen, which is about Isabella's daughter Juana. 

Told in the first person from Isabella's perspective, The Queen's Vow starts when Isabella is still a child in exile after the death of her father, the King of Spain. It is while visiting her half-brother's court that she first sets eyes upon Ferdinand, Prince of Aragon. She was to be one of the first that would marry for love and not be subject to a marriage based on politics. Fighting for her right to marry who she choose would be the first of many battles that she and Ferdinand would face. 

From her father's death to her giving Christopher Columbus permission to make his first voyage, we see how determined and strong Isabella truly was. She was a unique woman in many ways, from being the first successful ruler of her country to taking an active role in the rearing of her children. She was also a strong advocate for women's right to education. This novel spans most of Isabella's life and takes a look at both the good decisions and the bad decisions she made. C.W. Gortner does a great job developing the character of Isabella and showing us that she truly is a study in contradictions. She loved her family and she loved her country, yet she also believed very strongly in her faith and while she agonized over the well-being of Spain, she also sanctioned the Spanish Inquisition. She was a loving mother, but at the same time, a fierce ruler.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and having read it after reading The Last Queen, which in chronological terms, comes after this book, it made me think a lot more about what I was reading. I knew how certain things would end up, so this book gave the background behind some of those events and/or behaviors. I will definitely be looking out for what C.W. Gortner has coming out next, as everything I've read by him so far has been great.

About the author:  C.W. Gortner is the author of The Last Queen, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici and The Tudor Secret.  He holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall and experienced life in a Spanish castle. His novels have garnered international praise and been translated into thirteen languages to date. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental issues.

He's currently at work on his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about the early years of Lucrezia Borgia, as well as the third novel in his Tudor series,The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles (US) or Elizabeth's Spymaster (UK).

Half-Spanish by birth, C.W. lives in Northern California.
Fore more information about C.W. Gornter, please visit his website at: http://www.cwgortner.com/.
He can also be found on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/christopher.w.gortner
Also, be sure to check out all the other stops on the blog tour and follow the tour on Twitter (hashtag:  #QueensVowVirtualTour). 

I received a complimentary copy of The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gornter from Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.


  1. Thank you so much for your terrific review. I'm so pleased you enjoyed the book and delighted to be here as part of my virtual tour. I sincerely hope your readers enjoy THE QUEEN'S VOW.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and for writing such a great book!!!

  2. I liked this book as well. Now I want to read The Last Queen!

    1. I really enjoyed The Last Queen as well - still have to put up my review of that one.

  3. I really loved this book too. Gortner has a true talent for writing historical fiction. The Last Queen is one of my favorites, not only because of Gortner's writing, but because Juana of Castile is a favorite historical figure.


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