Friday, July 19, 2013

The Queen's Vow Blog Tour and Review

The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner
Publication Date: July 2, 2013 by Ballantine Books
Source: review copy provided by publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for an honest review

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 Take:
I'm not sure how, but somehow I had never read any of C.W. Gortner's books before reading The Queen's Vow. I will be addressing that situation soon. The Queen's Vow was a great introduction to his work. I always think it is a difficult thing to try to write historical fiction about such a well know historical person such as Isabella of Castile because most people are at least somewhat familiar with her. I was very pleasantly surprised at how well C.W. Gortner handled the controversies of her reign as queen while at the same time making her very human and sympathetic.

By beginning the book right as her father is dying and her half-brother Enrique is about to become the next king, Gortner is able to establish the precarious nature of life for Isabella, her mother and brother Alfonso as they are swept away to a place of safety by Archbishop Carrillo. The reader gets to see how dangerous life could be for family members that are a bit too high in the line of succession.

I thought the author did a nice job of explaining the political situation as well as describing the rumors and gossip regarding Enrique's court and the fear that Isabella's mother had to live with regarding the safety of her children. The descriptions of Enrique and his life of decadence and his personal weakness goes far in helping to explain some of Isabella's opinions, beliefs and actions later.

This is an incredibly complicated and turbulent time and I was thoroughly involved in the story throughout the book - even though I knew the history, the way the story is woven together made it seem new. I thought the author did an admirable job with the complexity of portraying Isabella as a child, a young woman trying to find her way and then as a wife, mother and queen. By allowing the reader to follow Isabella through difficulties big and small on her path to become queen, we are able to see her as the human being she was, not just as a monarch.

I thought Gortner handled the contradictions of her personality, the contradictions between her beliefs and her actions, and the controversies of her actions as queen extremely well. There are many things about Isabella's reign that truly bother me, but this novel allowed me to see things in a slightly different way. I still have issues and questions, but I really liked that a historical fiction novel made me stop and reconsider some ideas.

Isabella was an intriguing and complicated person who had some strong ideas and some admirable goals - and she also made some decisions that are quite notorious. The period of time covered was turbulent and so exciting and dangerous and makes for a great tale.

The Queen's Vow provides a fascinating look at the life of Isabella of Castile and I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction, books about royalty and intrigue, anyone interested in Spain, and actually pretty much everyone. I was so glad I had the chance to read this book and I can't wait to read other books by C.W. Gortner.

CWGAbout the Author

C.W. Gortner is the author of The Last Queen, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, The Tudor Secret and The Queen’s Vow. He holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California. In his extensive travels to research his books, he has experienced life in a Spanish castle and danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall. Half-Spanish by birth, he lives in Northern California.

You can find more information on C.W. Gortner’s website and blog. You can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Tuesday, July 2
Review at The Book Barista
Wednesday, July 3
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, July 4
Review at Sweet Tidbits
Interview at Unabridged Chick
Friday, July 5
Review at Twisting the Lens
Review at Geri, the History Lady
Monday, July 8
Review at nomadreader
Tuesday, July 9
Review at Babies, Books, and Beyond
Guest Post at Bibliophilic Book Blog
Wednesday, July 10
Review at From L.A. to LA
Thursday, July 11
Review at Peppermint, Ph.D.
Monday, July 15
Review at The Bluestocking Society
Review at Paperback Princess
Tuesday, July 16
Review at Book Nerds
Review at WTF Are you Reading?
Wednesday, July 17
Review at Book Addict Katie
Review at Always with a Book
Thursday, July 18
Review at Alternate Readality
Interview at WTF Are you Reading?
Friday, July 19
Review at A Book Geek
Monday, July 22
Review at Jo Jo Loves to Read
Tuesday, July 23
Review at Lost in Books
Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Wednesday, July 24
Review at Legacy of a Writer
Thursday, July 25
Review at Booktalk & More
Guest Post at Lost in Books
Friday, July 26
Review at The Relentless Reader
Monday, July 29
Review at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Tuesday, July 30
Review at Long Ago Love
Review & Interview at The Life & Times of a Book Addict
Wednesday, July 31
Review at My Reading Room
Thursday, August 1
Review at vvb32 Reads
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Interview at My Reading Room
Friday, August 2
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at Amused by Books
Monday, August 5
Review at Reader Girls
Review at Review From Here

Tuesday, August 6
Review at Layered Pages
Guest Post at Review From Here

1 comment:

  1. I'm almost finished with this now and am really enjoying it as well!


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