Title: The Last Queen
Author: C.W. Gortner
Published: July 28, 2008
Page Count: 400
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Rating: 4/5
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.
I’d been interested in reading The Last Queen ever since it came out last summer, so when I was contacted to be a part of the blog tour celebrating the release of the book in paperback, there was no way I could turn it down. And I’m happy to say that the book was every bit as great as I hoped it would be.
I love historical fiction because I feel like I’m learning something while (if the book is done well) at the same time being entertained by the story and the characters. The Last Queen was no exception. I’m ashamed to admit that I have very little knowledge of Spanish history, so truthfully I had never heard of Juana of Castile before picking up this book. The great thing is that I feel like I learned a ton about her while reading this novel, and now Juana of Castile is another historical figure who I’d love to learn even more about. The way Gortner portrayed her was fantastic – she really came alive on the pages, I could feel her emotions and understand her motivations for her behavior. She came across as an amazingly intelligent and cunning woman who did everything she could to protect her family, herself, and above all, her country. Although apparently history has written Juana to be somewhat crazy, Gortner made it seem so clear why she did the things she did – others may have seen her as crazy but Juana was just taking every precaution necessary to protect what was important to her.
Another great aspect of The Last Queen is the wonderful writing. Not only did Gortner do an amazing job getting into Juana’s head and making her come alive for the reader, but he also wrote such fantastic descriptions of Spain during that time. I truly felt like I was right there, like every time I picked up the book I was being transported to Spain in the early 1500’s. It was such a great feeling to read about this woman in this time period and really feel like I was seeing what she saw and doing what she did.
The Last Queen is a wonderful book that is an absolute MUST read for any fans of historical fiction. Thanks to Dorothy at Pump Up Your Book Promotion Tours for asking me to be a part of this tour! The Last Queen is being featured on many other blogs this month – check out the list for this tour here.