Isabella of Castile conjures up thoughts of the Inquisition and the New World, but who was the woman behind the Crown? Isabella of Castile grows up largely ignored by her half brother King Enrique. She lives away from court, raised by her mother, the former Queen, and her brother. When called to court to swear fealty to the unrightful heir to the throne, Isabella finds herself thrown into a frightening court, full of debauchery led by her vile half sister in law and twisted half brother. As life in Spain boils over, Isabella is caught up in the Civil War that pits her brother against her half brother. Isabella longs to rule Castile with her cousin, Ferdinand of Aragon as her husband. They secretly marry, defying the King. They begin the fight for Castile, and vow to vanquish all Castile's enemies.
History hasn't been the kindest to Isabella of Castile. Though she is associated with the discovery of the New World, she isn't remembered for her kindness. Gortner spins his usual magic, giving a sympathetic portrait of the Most Catholic Majesty. Raised by her mad mother, Isabella learns nothing of politics. In fact, her education is almost nonexistent. But what she lacks in education, she makes up for in determination. Thrown into the political arena, Isabella relies on powerful men to teach her. As Isabella matures, her confidence level increases and she becomes Castile's Queen in the truest sense. Thought decisive, she isn't rash. But her downfall is two fold- her husband and her inquisitor. Ferdinand is a great leader, but is rather stubborn and prideful. Torquemada constantly urges Isabella to rid Spain of the Jews. I will admit, I liked seeing Isabella struggle. One assumes ( incorrectly, perhaps) that Isabella was an evil woman. Gortner takes our eyes off the crown, and focuses our attentions on the heart of Isabella of Castile.