I think C.W. Gortner is a man, so I was exceptionally surprised and pleased at the woman's POV being done so well. Her insecurities, her love for her husband, her strengths and weaknesses were so real to me. To be honest, I didn't expect to like this queen. She was behind the murder of so many...but the last part of the book, the Inquisition, showed me another side and reason to it all. Same history, different POV.
I preferred the beginning of the book. Young Isabella, her friend, Beatriz, her passion for Fernando. I fell in love with Fernando there for a while myself...till he was a bad boy. Young Isabella shows us her brothers' reigns. Her half brother, the sodomite and his wife trying to throw a daughter of questionable lineage on the throne... Her second brother takes the throne, only to die. Isabella tries to play nice and fair and it bites her later. She's threatened, imprisoned of sorts, they want her to marry against her wishes...but she only wants Fernando.
I found it wonderfully romantic. I was completely enthralled with the first half of the book. The second half with her as queen showed me a determined and strong woman and mother, then the Inquisition. I grew a tad bored with all the court intrigue. I always do. Those parts about wars and traitors start to lose me for some reason, but I thought this was a great book. It's the first novel I have read about Queen Isabella. Well done, Mr. Gortner.
"Women breed and men provide. What I ask is: Why? Why must we have only one path? Who said a woman can't take up the sword and cross, and march on Granada to vanquish the Moors? Who said we can't make our own decisions or manage our ow affairs as well as any man?"
Four bikes. I received this, an ARC, via Amazon Vine. Quotes in the final book may be different.