May 8, 2009

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner

Welcome to the Savvy Verse & Wit tour stop for C.W. Gortner's The Last Queen, which is new in paperback this month.

About the Book:

Daughter of Isabel of Castile and sister of Catherine of Aragon. Married at sixteen and a queen at twenty-five. Declared mad by history. Juana of Castile, the last true queen of Spain. Ruled by her passions, Juana’s arranged marriage to Philip the Fair of Flanders begins as a fairytale romance when despite never having met before their betrothal, they fall violently in love. Juana is never meant to be more than his consort and mother to his heirs until she finds herself heiress to the throne of Spain after tragedy decimates her family. Suddenly she is plunged into a ruthless battle of ambition and treachery, with the future of Spain and her own freedom at stake. Told in Juana's voice, The Last Queen is a powerful and moving portrait of a woman ahead of her time, a queen fought fiercely for her birthright in the face of an unimaginable betrayal. Juana's story is one of history's darkest secrets, brought vividly to life in this exhilarating novel.

C.W. Gortner's The Last Queen is a roller coaster ride of emotion dramatizing Juana of Castile's adolescent years, her marriage to a man she doesn't know, and her return to her homeland. Juana is an impetuous child, independent, passionate, and compassionate. Her passions often lead her astray, cause her to act outside the norms of royal protocol, and jump to conclusions. While history views Juana as loca or mad, Gortner's dramatization examines possible explanations for her behavior. Juana witnesses the surrender of the Moors and Boabdil at the hands of her mother, Queen Isabel, as Spain reclaimed Granada.

"The lords closed in around him, leading him away. I averted my eyes. I knew that if he'd been victorious he would not have hesitated to order the deaths of my father and my brother, of every noble and soldier on this field. He'd have enslaved my sisters and me, defamed and executed my mother. He and his kind had defiled Spain for too long. At last, our country was united under one throne, one church, one God. I should rejoice in his subjugation.

Yet what I most wanted to do was console him." (Page 11, in the hardcover)

Shortly after Spain regains its footing, Juana is informed that she must marry the Archduke of Flanders, Philip, a man she was betrothed to and does not know. Juana is adamant that she will not marry this man, until her father treats her as an adult at sixteen and explains the political situation Spain is in and how her marriage to Philip could improve it. While she is young and passionate, she is frightened of the man she will marry and what married life entails. She's timid and accepting of her new life, which she discovers has more passion than she expected. However, even in this new, passionate existence, she is uneasy with her new role, the new customs she must learn, and the influence her husband's advisor, Besancon, has over Philip.

"She lay against mounded pillows, her eyes closed. I gazed on her translucent pallor, under which bluish veins and the very structure of her bones could be traced. A linen cap covered her scalp; her features seemed oddly childlike. It took a moment to realize she had no eyebrows. I had never noticed before. She must have had them plucked in her youth; those thin lines I was accustomed to seeing arched in disapproval were, in fact, painted. Her hands rested on her chest. These too I stared at, the fingers long and thin now, without any rings save the ruby signet of Castile, which hung loosely on her right finger. I hadn't realized how beautiful her hands were, how elegant and marble-smooth, as if made to hold a scepter.

The hands of a queen. My hands." (Page 201, in the hardcover)

Gortner's writing easily captures the fears of a young royal as she is shipped off to Flanders to be married. Readers will feel her apprehension and wish her well even as she boldly stares her fate in the eye. As the plot thickens against her and her homeland, Juana is fortified in her resolve and her passion girds her against the obstacles to come. Gortner's characters are well developed, leaping off the page to battle interlopers, defend their family's honor, and looking for justice when wrongs are committed by trusted advisors and family members. Readers will curl their toes in anxiety as Juana faces turncoats and ghosts and wish her triumph in the end. Overall, The Last Queen is an exceptionally well-crafted historical novel that will have readers dealing with a range of emotions from sorrow to anger. Gortner excels in building tension and leaving readers exhausted from the ride.

Also Reviewed By:
The Burton Review
Reading Adventures


C.W. Gortner’s fascination with history is a lifetime pursuit. He holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California and often travels to research his books. He has experienced life in a medieval Spanish castle and danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall; dug through library archives all over Europe; and tried to see and touch — or, at least, gaze at through impenetrable museum glass — as many artifacts of the era as he can find.

Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, publishes The Last Queens in trade paperback on May 5, 2009. A Random House Readers Circle Selection, it features a reading group guide and Q&A with the author. C.W. Gortner is also available for reader group chats by speaker phone or Skype.

Visit the author's Reading Group information.

He lives in Northern California. You can visit his Website.

***Giveaway Information***

1. 1 entry, comment on my review.

2. 1 entry, comment on this guest post, here.

3. Tell me if you are a follower or follow this blog and tell me for a 3rd entry.

4. Spread the word on your blog, etc., and get a 4th entry.

Deadline May 22, 2009, 11:59 PM EST


***Giveaway Reminders***

1 copy of Rubber Side Down Edited by Jose Gouveia, here; Deadline is May 15 at 11:59 PM EST


Rebecca :) said...

This book sounds fantastic! Please enter me. I am a follower, too.

Meghan said...

Great review! I don't need to be entered, I just wanted to say that I really agree about how the characters come to life!

Anna said...

Awesome review! I'd love to read this one. The characters sound interesting, and I can tell that you really loved it.

Diary of an Eccentric

Julie P. said...

Don't enter me, but I just want to chime in about what a terrific book this is. The story is great, but the writing is what I loved the most!

Linda said...

This book has been on my wish list for some time now. I'd love to win a copy. Thanks.

Blodeuedd said...

Do enter me, the book sounds lovely :)
And I am a follower

blodeuedd1 (at) gmail (dot) com

Marie Burton said...

Great review, well put! I enjoyed it!
*Don't enter me*
I have all the Tour Stops listed on my Author Guest Post at The Burton Review, and my own review is also posted.
Gortner is a treasure to Historical Fiction, so whoever wins this book is in for a treat!

bermudaonion said...

I need to try some historical fiction like this, since the genre is fairly new to me. Great review. milou2ster(at)

Irene Yeates said...

I love historical fiction, and your review reflects how it comes alive on the page. Please enter my name in the giveaway. Thank you.

cyeates AT nycap DOT rr DOT com

Irene Yeates said...

I am a follower!!

cyeates AT nycap DOT rr DOT com

carolsnotebook said...

Juana sounds fascinating. I'm looking forward to reading this one. I'm a follower, too.

carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

Cheryl S. said...

I enjoyed reading your review - it makes me want to read this book.

Please count me in - Thanks!
megalon22 at yahoo dot com

Katherine said...

I'm NOT entering the contest, but I just wanted to say that I enjoyed this book, too! Good review.

Jo-Jo said...

Great review Serena! No need to enter me as I am currently reading this one for a review next week. I am also enjoying it!

Ashley said...

Great review, I'd love to read this!

+1 I commented on the guest post.

Ashley said...

I posted this contest on my sidebar at


Chris said...

I love your description of the writing and plot! It makes me want to steal away with a copy to a private place and read till I've finished.


Chris said...



jacketsandcovers said...

Sounds utterly fantastic! I'm always looking for great books about kings and queens that aren't King Henry VIII and his wives. This one sounds right up my alley!

jacketscovers AT yahoo DOT com

Cheryl said...

Excellent review. I've just finished this book and it is absolutely fantastic. I would highly recommend it.


S. Krishna said...

No need to enter me, but I enjoyed this book as well. Great review!

The Giveaway Diva said...

wo this book sounds so fantastic!!! Great review!!


Teddyree said...

Fantastic review, I'm dying to read this one.
All my other details are on the guest post.
Thanks for entering me :-)

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Whoa. We really didn't get this up at Win a Book.

I'll go fix that now.

Amber said...

I think this sounds incredible. I love historical fiction, especially featuring such strong and passionate heroines!
Thank you for the giveaway :)

Sunny @ the Library said...

What a great subject for a book. I'd love an entry!

I'm also following.

nightdweller20 said...

Good review! I can't wait to read this book!

jaam121388 at yahoo dot com

nightdweller20 said...

I follow your blog :)

jaam121388 at yahoo dot com

Dar said...

I'd love to read this one. I would have liked to do the tour but just didn't have the room this month. If I didn't want to read it before, those quotes you used certainly have me hooked now. Juana sounds like a fascinating character and this is one time in history I haven't delved into yet.

Of course I'm already a stalker (lol) of your blog and I'll post this on my sidebar.

BUSY BEE said...

Sounds like a great book! Enter me please. I love historical fiction!

bsyb100 at gmail dot com

teabird said...

Please enter me - I'd love to read it!

teabird 17 AT yahoo dot com

Carlene said...

Great Review, I love historical novels. I would love to be entered in your drawing.

scottsgal said...

sounds like a wonderful read for the summer please count me in

msboatgal at

gaby317 said...

I love historical fiction and after reading your review, I really want to read this book!

It sounds wonderful - and such a different side of Juana.

thanks for the giveaway!

gaby317 said...

I'm a new follower!

and I've posted the link to this contest on my blog's sidebar. Thanks!

gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

gaby317 said...

+ i commented on the interesting guest post as well.


gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

Cristina said...

This book is definitely worth reading!

Cristina said...

And by the way I spread the word on my blog . Please add me!

Rachel said...

I'd love to read this!

I follow you on my Google Reader if that counts. Thanks!

Pissenlit said...

Great review. The more I hear about this book, the more I want to read it.

naida said...

I've seen this one around a few blogs and it does sound good.
Great review!

C.W. Gortner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C.W. Gortner said...

Thank you so much to Savvy Verse and Wit for the marvelous review and for hosting this giveaway. Best of luck to everyone and I just with I had more copies to give out!

Marie said...

This sounds really good, I would love to read it!

Marie said...

I am a follower.

Gwendolyn B. said...

Your review makes me want to read this even more! Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

Gwendolyn B. said...

I'm a Follower.

geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

bridget3420 said...

I really want this book!


bridget3420 said...

I've added this to my TBR list.


bridget3420 said...

I'm a follower.


bridget3420 said...

Posted contest link on my blog


Jayme said...

this looks like a great, we hear so much about Katherine of Aragon--it would be nice to read about her mother.

jaymewhitson AT gmail DOT com

♔ jessica.marie said...

This book looks amazing! I have had my eye on it for a while now and your review has confirmed my desire to read it! Thanks for the opportunity!

I am a follower. :D

lovejessicamarie [@] gmail [.] com

Victoria said...

This book sounds great! I didn't even know about Juana. I love when I discover new historical females. Thanks! utgal2004[at]yahoo[dot]com

Victoria said...

I became a follower! utgal2004[at]yahoo[dot]com

dolleygurl said...

A great review! I have been interested in learning more about Juana. Please enter me, I am a follower and I posted about it on my blog dolleygurl[at]hotmail[dot]com.

Ladytink_534 said...

Oh the new cover threw me off! I actually have this in my TBR pile somewhere. Really have to get to it now lol. Great review!

No need to enter me.

bkclubcare said...

I am so ready to get back to some exciting historical lit! bkclubcare [at] gmail

windycindy said...

The life of a queen is much harder than I thought. I adore a woman ahead of her time! What an intriguing lady and life. Thanks for the wonderful review.

windycindy said...

I am a follower of your blog!
Again, many thanks.....Cindi

windycindy said...


Wanda said...

Your review made me want to start reading the book right away! Please enter my name in your draw. Thanks!

Ladybug said...

Is this give away open for international readers(I live in Norway :))? I have noticed that you have specified it before but I can't find any information about it this time.

Either way, the book sounds great! I have just read another great review of it as well. I hope a get a change to read it this year :)

quelleheure4 said...

I love her sassy personality and I think it would definitely add to the excitement and interest of the novel. It sounds wonderful!

quelleheure4 said...

I follow your blog!

Renee G said...

Loved your review. I would love to read this now. I'm not a real history buff, but this sounds like a great read.


Alexa said...

Great review! I'd love to win this book.

I am a follower.

I commented on the other post.