Sunday, July 11, 2010

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

Title: The Last Queen
Author: C.W. Gortner
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Pub Date: 2009
ISBN: 978-0-345-50185-1
Pages: 368
I received a free copy of this book from the author for an honest review to be posted on this blog.

Book Synopsis:
In this stunning novel, C.W. Gortner brings to life Juana of Castile, the third child of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand of Spain, who would become the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country's throne. Along the way, Gortner takes the reader from the somber majesty of Spain to the glittering and lethal courts of Flanders, France, and Tudor England.

Born amid her parents' ruthless struggle to unify and strengthen their kingdom, Juana, at the age of sixteen, is sent to wed Philip, heir to the Habsburg Empire. Juana finds unexpected love and passion with her dashing young husband, and at first she is content with her children and her married life. But when tragedy strikes and she becomes heir to 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, Juana vows to secure her crown and save Spain from ruin, even if it costs her everything.

About the Author:
Half-Spanish by birth, C.W. GORTNER was raised in southern Spain, where he developed a lifelong fascination with history. After holding various jobs in the fashion industry, he earned a MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies. He has taught university seminars on the 16th century and women in history, as well as workshops on writing, historical research, and marketing.

Acclaimed for his insight into his characters, he travels extensively to research his books. He has slept in a medieval Spanish castle, danced in a Tudor great hall, and explored library archives all over Europe. His debut historical novel The Last Queen gained international praise and has been sold in ten countries to date. His new novel, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, is now available. He is currently at work on The Princess Isabella, his third historical novel, and The Tudor Secret, the first book in his new Tudor suspense series,The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles.

C.W. lives with his partner in Northern California.

My review:
The Last Queen is the best book I have read so far this summer. The writing is superb and I have to admit I was very shocked to find out that the author had a hard time finding a publisher for it. The story grabbed me from the beginning and I was sad for the last page to appear. Gortner entwines the world of European royalty with flair as he gives an inside look to arranged marriages and the intrigue of the ruling royal families. I had no prior knowledge of Spanish history or the characters contained in this book (besides a small knowledge of Tudor England) and I have become utterly fascinated with their stories. As I was reading through the pages, I found myself fascinated, excited, saddened, and at times wanting to throw the book across the room from the actions of certain characters. Yet, I had to hold to the cover tightly as I couldn't waste a minute of reading time in having to go retrieve the book if I had done that. I finished the book about five days ago and I am still yearning to be involved in the lives of these characters. The book ends with what I particularly liked-an inclusion of an afterword that gave more detailed information about the characters. I recommend this book to all, even if you aren't a fan of historical fiction, Gortner's writing is so good, I think you will quickly become a fan of his and the genre.

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