July 21, 2012

Part 4: The Queen's Vow FINAL Discussion Post

(Click for Read Along Schedule)
Part I's Discussion Post
Part II's Discussion Post
Part III's Discussion Post

Part IV: The Fallen Kingdom 1481-1492

Final Thoughts:

As I write 1492 as the end of Part IV.. is that where it ends? 1492? It is a year that is entrenched in our heads as the year of Cristobal Colon sailed the ocean blue.. and here we are finally at the conclusion of The Queen's Vow.

We do meet Cristobal Colon aka Columbus, and all his saucy ways as he introduces himself to Isabella. Isabella is portrayed as being very interested in exploring the world unknown. Does Isabella see World Domination in her future as she gazes at Colon?

Also in this part, Isabella is a target of assassination. One wonders what would have become of the Inquisition if the attempt succeeded? Would Fernando have taken up the banner and continued his fight against the Moors and Jewish?

Did you feel that the decision to conquer the Moors was a good one, considering the financial state of both Castile and Aragon, and the Cortes' reluctance to borrow heavily from the Jewish citizens?

Isabella is willing to send prisoners to slavery, only to be ransomed for money to be released. Yet another sad state of the times connected to Isabella is the slavery issue. I can appreciate how Gortner is adding these small details so that we can discern for ourselves the character of Isabella, especially when he is making sure he doesn't paint her in an all too positive light.

One can't help but wonder how Isabella would feel knowing that her daughter Catherine was divorced by Henry VIII but that her grand-daughter Mary had the same zealous religious intolerance as Isabella.

If you've read The Last Queen, do you have any thoughts on the scene between Juana and her grandmother? Juana, in general, is given a lively, stubborn personality in this book and a loving relationship with her father; do you feel it plays up well to the author's novel on her life?

From previous comments during this read-along, it is apparent that we all have different perspectives and reading tastes. Did you find the political maneuverings, the religious strife or Isabella's personal life the most pleasing to read?

Throughout the story, which characters have been your favorites?

How do you interpret the title, The Queen's Vow? What was Isabella's vow, and did she carry it out to your expectations?

What are your final thoughts? Please feel free to post your review links if you are a blogger as well as continue our discussion on Part 4 and on the novel as a whole.

You can read Michelle's review here.
You can read Marie's review here.
You can read Arleigh's review Monday. ;)

AND...Drum roll, please!

Arleigh offered a special giveaway, and it's time to announce our winner:


Please put your email address in the comments so we can discuss shipment!

Thank you so much for participating, this was a lot of fun!

If you are itching for another read along Michelle is co-hosting a read along of Wolf Hall, posts will be held at other blogs.. see the details here.

Till next time...


  1. Since I've already reviewed the book, I won't reiterate what I said there, but I must say that what Gortner does well is to dig deep into the motivations of a historical figure--in this case, Isabella--what personal reasons/convictions motivated her to make the decisions she did. Although I absolutely do not condone some of the things Isabella did, I still admire her for her strength.

    Another thing I noticed as I was reading is that Gortner captures the attitude toward women of the time perfectly. I remember in The Last Queen how Juana was treated by her husband and others. If she would have been a man, it never would have happened. I was reminded of this as I was reading the scene where Fernando is so indignant that Isabella had herself declared queen. Isabella handled the situation well and she had one advantage that her daughter did not...she was already queen.

    I believe that Isabella's vow was to keep Castile from falling. Above all else, I think she truly was willing to die for Castile. I truly believe that she turned in her grave when Juana became queen upon her death and Fernando and Philippe (and Juana's son after Philippe's death) put Juana away as mad and took over Castile. It was, in the end, what Carillo had warned would happen.

    Now I must set my sites on finally reading The Confessions of Catherine de Medici.

  2. Thank you so much Arleigh, and to Marie and Michelle for hosting this fabulous read-a-long. It was my first, but I enjoyed it so much I am looking forward to more!


    I will post my thoughts here in a few hours about the book. I am so close to finishing The Last Queen and would like to go ahead and finish that first because I'd like to say a few things about it too in regard to The Queen's Vow. Thank you again. I truly appreciate it. None of my family or friends read, so to be able to discuss my thoughts and hear the great opinions of others has been wonderful for me.

  3. First off, I am so impressed with Gortner's writing. He is able to bring these historic figures to life in way that I feel very few contemporary authors do. After I completed the novel my emotions toward isabella were certainly mixed. I admire her for her courage and strength, and even somewhat for her devotion to her faith even though that same devotion led to the horrific persecutions. I think it's okay to admire some facets of an individual, while having contempt for other parts and That's exactly how I feel about her. Gortner did a fantastic job showing us that despite her admirable qualities she was indeed flawed.
    I enjoyed reading about the relationship between Isabella and Fernando. Ultimately though as much as they loved each other, they loved their perspective realms above one another, including their children. This was illustrated to me after completing The Last Queen. My heart broke for Juana after what Fernando did to her. It was heart wrenching and after reading that I feel more disdain for Fernando than Isabella. There's no question what they did to the Jews was horrific, but to do what Fernando did to his own flesh and blood, his "madrecita" was inexplicable to me and I truly believe if Isabella was in Fernando's situation she would have done the exact horrifying thing because they loved above all else. Where was Fernando's religion when he forsook he daughter all for power? It makes me wonder if they both used tailored their faith to a certain extend to fit their own personal desires and goals. I ultimately left with admiring some facets of Isabella while being thououghly disappointed with many other ones.
    I just wanted to also add that now that I am aware of the tragedies that happen to Isabel as other children, I would of loved to continue to read from her point of view about the tragedies and family conflicts that happened after the book ended in1492. I found myself wishing I could have read more about how she faced those tragedies, etc. I read about them of course in The Last Queen, but I found myself wishing I could have read those things from Isabel as perspective. However I do understand that it would have made the book much, much longer.

    1. Sorry for some of the spelling errors, I'm writing on my tablet and didn't proofread it afterward.

  4. Thank you to everyone for their comments; and for both choosing the book and reading along with it. It's been a tough week for me, personally, and this has really brightened my day.

    Based on what you've all said here, I'm so relieved to see that I indeed accomplished what I set out to do. I was aware going that Isabella is a polarizing historical figure. But I never set out to write a book thinking, How do I make this character likable? That's not my goal: what I ask myself is, how do I make her plausible, fallible, a human being and not a stereotype?

    More than any of my other characters to date, Isabella is a study in contradiction. She was capable of great good, she had immense courage and resiliency, and yet she also unleashed a great evil in the Inquisition. It's true she loved Castile, perhaps above all else; that is indeed her vow: to save her kingdom. Everything she does is to that end. The queen we meet in my first book, THE LAST QUEEN, is the stoic, accomplished monarch she became because of the events depicted in THE QUEEN'S VOW; the seed starts with the uncertainty of her childhood. Isabella, like all of us, was shaped by her experiences, both for better and worse.

    Thanks again! It's been such fun and I'll check in again in case there are any other questions.

  5. Oh, and thank you, Arleigh, for the beautiful giveaway!!


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