I will admit that I do not know much of Queen Isabella. I knew she was a warrior queen and that her youngest daughter, Catalina married Henry the VIII of England. I also knew that she promoted the Spanish Inquisition and the forced exile of the Jews. She also fought the Moor and expanded her kingdom with the marriage to Ferdinand and through war with the "infidel". So needless to say, I went into this book with my own biases of this queen. When I thought of Isabella of Castile, I thought of a strong powerful monarch in her own right; but after reading this book, I really didn't get that out of her. She seems to have minded Ferdinand and her religious leaders more than what she wanted to. In the book, she really doesn't want to begin the Inquisition, but Ferdinand and Talavera (her confessor) coax her into it. She really doesn't want to force conversion of the Jews, but again she is influenced to do so. She really doesn't want to throw out the Conversos (Jews that have converted to the Catholic faith) but again she does so against her moral judgement. It's like the author wants you to like her and think of her as a tolerable monarch, but because of circumstances, she had no other choice but to do the dirty work of the Church. I really believe Isabella knew what she was doing to her people and did so in the name of God. I believe she (like all monarchs of that time) thought of herself as anointed by God to do His will and that will was to bring reform, holiness and obedience no matter the cost. I believe she brought order and fear to her people.
Unfortunately, in this book, she didn't seem to have too much depth. She seemed more tame that what I had imagined her to be. She seemed more agreeable than strong-willed. She seemed out of her league in war and looked outright stupid in a particular war scene in the book.
I do not know how historically correct this book is, but my romanticized view of a strong, independent warrior queen was really broken with this book. Isabella's best friend Beatriz and even King Enrique IV's wife, Juana seem to have more spirit that Isabella herself.
Even the cover of this book is disappointing. Isabella was a blonde with blue eyes - a true Tratamaran, but in the cover of the book she looks more French or Moorish. Overall, I really didn't like the book.
To the Christian: Thankfully, this book leaves a lot to the imagination when it comes to sexual encounters. There are slight references to homosexual pedophilia, but nothing at all vivid. There is adultery and children born out of wedlock. The intimacy between Isabella and Ferdinand is not vulgar or graphic. There are no bad words.
Reading this book strengthens my belief on how important it is to read the Bible and obey it and to properly interpret it. So much pain could be averted if we just did what it said. Isabella didn't need to force conversion on anyone to win God's favor. God is our Potter and He does with His creation what He wishes. Isabella and the Church tried in vain to do the work of the Holy Spirit. Nowhere in the Bible are people forced to conversion by other people. God does that work and turns a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. Not one disciple brought harm to his enemy. On the contrary, Jesus showed them to pray for your enemy and do good to those that hurt you. She did a lot in the "name of God", but it wasn't the God of the Bible. While reading the book, I remember thinking, "Where did you get that from Scripture, Isabella"; "no, that's not what that means at all!". Isabella and her Church didn't interpret Scripture correctly and allowed their own biases to twist Scripture. In an age of so much information, we have no excuse to "not know better".