Book Tour & Review - The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner

Friday, September 05, 2008

The Last Queen
Author: C.W. Gortner
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books

Juana of Castile, the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country’s throne, has been for centuries an enigmatic figure shrouded in lurid myth. Was she the bereft widow of legend who was driven mad by her loss, or has history misjudged a woman who was ahead of her time? In his stunning new novel, C. W. Gortner challenges the myths about Queen Juana, unraveling the mystery surrounding her to reveal a brave, determined woman we can only now begin to fully understand.

The third child of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain, Juana is born amid her parents’ ruthless struggle to unify their kingdom, bearing witness to the fall of Granada and Columbus’s discoveries. At the age of sixteen, she is sent to wed Philip, the archduke of Flanders, as part of her parents’ strategy to strengthen Spain, just as her youngest sister, Catherine of Aragon, is sent to England to become the first wife of Henry VIII.

Juana finds unexpected love and passion with her handsome young husband, the sole heir to the Habsburg Empire. At first she is content with her children and her life in Flanders. But when tragedy strikes and she inherits the Spanish throne, Juana finds herself plunged into a battle for power against her husband that grows to involve the major monarchs of Europe. Besieged by foes on all sides, her intelligence and pride used as weapons against her, Juana vows to secure her crown and save Spain from ruin, even if it could cost her everything.


This is a touching, little known portrait of a queen who was never meant to be one. The author is an expert at depicting events and capturing subtle nuances of expression, emotion and events of a queen infamously and, as we come to know why through this book, tragically known as Juana the Mad. The writing's so vivid and visual that a reader is sure to feel they're actually there whether frolicking with young Juana in the little oasis of a garden in a Moor's palace, or enjoying the opulence of the Flemish court with a newly married Juana or the sparseness of the Spanish one as Juana struggles to claim her birthright.

In essence, this the story of a woman struggling for her rights and as such it stuck a chord with me despite the time elapsed. Thrust into a role for which she is ill-prepared, married to an immature husband who seeks to rule her through brute force and usurp Spain's throne rather than be her king consort and ultimately betrayed at a pivotal point by someone very close to her, Juana's story has all the hallmarks of a grand tragedy. It's very moving, very evocative and sure to leave a lasting impression.

Buy the Book - here.
Visit the Author's site - here.
Visit the Publisher - here.


Thanks to Pump Up Your Book Promotion for sending me this book for review.

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6 People said

  1. I'm not big on historical fiction, but this one sounds good!

  2. I'm not much into real life stories of authentic historical characters myself, but this one was a very good read. Let me know if you ever get a chance to read it.

  3. I loved this book as well:) Great review!

  4. Thank you so much to a Book Blogger's Diary for this lovely review. I'm honored to be here. I'll be stopping throughout the month of September to answer readers' comments and questions. Fond regards, C.W. Gortner

  5. What a talented author he is and what a great review!

  6. Thanks for your kind comments. And thanks to the author for taking the time to stop by and comment!


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