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The Last Queen Hardcover – 29 Jul 2008
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Compelling... a riveting blend of passion, power and betrayal. (Inside Soap)
Disturbing royal secrets and court manipulations wickedly twist this enthralling story, brilliantly told. (Publishers Weekly) -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Paperback.
A vivid historical romp to rival Philippa Gregory. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Paperback.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
The Last Queen is an outstanding achievement, superbly written. I can really see the love and craft that Gortner poured into it over the years that he took to write it. What a formidable, interesting and tragic character he has described in Juana la Loca. She is a woman whose story was sadly forgotten for centuries. Well, not any more. I can honestly think of only a handful of historical fiction novels of any time period that I have enjoyed as much in the last few years. These would include The Law Of Dreams by Peter Behrens and Hawk Quest by Robert Lyndon.
Ben Kane, author of Spartacus: The Gladiator.
Ruling the newly united Spain was a formidable task, and much was expected of the five children of Isabella and Ferdinand. Their marriages were political ones, meant to secure Spain from its enemies and solidify its union. Juan, their son and heir, would marry Margaret of Hapsburg. The eldest daughter, Isabella, would marry Alfonso, the Prince of Portugal, while the youngest, Catalina, would first marry Arthur, the oldest son of King Henry VII of England, and later would go on to marry his younger brother, Henry. Maria would marry King Emanuel of Portugal. At sixteen, Juana was married to Phillip the Fair of Hapsburg, Archduke of the duchy of Flanders and heir to the Hapsburg Empire.
In Flanders, Juana becomes besotted with her husband, and just when true happiness seems to be within her grasp, with her children about her and her love for her husband paramount, the unthinkable happens. Her situation suddenly and drastically changes with the unexpected deaths of her brother, Juan, and her older sister, Isabella, making her the heiress to the throne of Spain. This changes the tenor of her relationship, as well as the balance of power, with her husband, who is no more than a puppet in the hands of his greedy and grasping Chancellor, the powerful Archbishop Besancon.
When Juana goes to Spain with her husband, she finds herself continually battling for power with him and struggling to retain her kingdom. She finds foes where she would least expect to do so and is pretty much left to fend for herself. Upon her husband's death, she carries her husband's coffin about with her, vowing to fight for what is best for Spain. She soon discovers that others do not share her vision. As rumors of her mental instability fly, Juana finds herself continually disenfranchised from her kingdom, heralding the beginning of the end for her reign, the last queen of Spain, and the end of life as she knows it.
Absorbing and well-written, the author's interpretive efforts bear much fruit, as he spins a story that captures the reader's imagination. This queen, about which so little is known, comes to life on the pages of this book. Written in the first person, it is a fascinating story of political intrigue at its most diabolical, replete with familial betrayal and great passion. Those who enjoy the books of Jean Plaidy and Philippa Gregory will, undoubtedly, enjoy reading this book, as well.
The book weaves an accessible tale of the complex inter-relationships of the great European powers of the time and centres it from the Spanish perspective (the author is half Spanish) - a view not normally considered in Anglo-Saxon writings of history. In addition to this, and what makes it all work, is the love of Spain that infuses the book - descriptions of the smells of jasmine and sounds of water trickling in the Alhambra, to images of the vast arid plains and fierce mountain passes. This deep affection flows from Juana - from her steely resolve to hold the kingdom her mother created, even if it brings her harm, to her reminiscences and yearning to be in her native land when living abroad.
Juana struggles terribly with the conflicts of a sense of duty (invoked by her mother, Queen Isabel) and her marriage to Philip - eventually the forces become so polarised and political scheming overtakes her that it is no wonder she slips into mental turmoil.
Not only is it a great work of historical fiction, based by all accounts on the most accurate information available - because of how congruently it is voiced by Juana it becomes a thrilling, page turning, tragic love-story which left me with a keen sense of the injustices of life of a female ruler in a man's world.
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