Sunday, May 27, 2012

Recommending A Great New Historical Novel

The story of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon, and their struggle to unite the various parts of Spain into one country is legendary; and C.W. Gortner's amazing version, written in the first person POV of the queen herself, makes for a first class historical novel, "The Queen's Vow."

Gortner's writing in this epic novel is magnificent. I had previously read his "The Tudor Secret" which I liked very much, but he has grown as a writer since that fine book. Even minor characters come magnificently alive under the author's skilled hand. His descriptions of that hot, sere land are outstanding.

According to Gortner's version, Ferdinand and Isabella are a true love match. They are only teen agers when they marry, but together they face campaigns to conquer first, the Portuguese encroachment on their lands, and later the Moslems who controlled much of Spain's coastline. Although we despair some of the results of their choices, still the reader can sympathize with every momentous decision the young couple and their advisors are forced to make.

Ferdinand is portrayed as a fearless yet compassionate leader and Isabella a beautiful, enlightened woman centuries ahead of her time in many ways. Admittedly, though, the novel ends before she begins her infamous persecution of Jews and non-Catholics. But there are hints given as to why she may have thought it necessary.

To me, this novel puts Gortner right up there with Philippa Gregory and Ken Follett.

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