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.
This was my first Christopher Gortner novel and I will definitely be reading more. Gortner describes by showing, not telling. The words are each chosen with precision and powerful meaning.
I've never read about Isabella of Castile. All I knew about her prior to this book was that she and Ferdinand were the ones who sent Columbus on a new trade route to find India. But Isabella's story starts when she is very young, her father dies, and her half-brother takes the throne and doesn't do a very good job at it.
I love and gravitate toward stories with strong women, and Gortner's Isabella is no different. She doesn't start off with much of a backbone, but when she realizes she needs to get one, she does so and is the epitome of bravery. She goes after what she wants with pride, wit, love, and courage.
The Queen's Vow is a story that will sweep you off your feet and remind you why you love reading. Highly recommended!