I loved Jean Plaidy when I was a teenager and was always reading one of her or Phillipa Carr´s (one of her other pen names)novels. I loved that they were great stories but firmly rooted in really exciting historical facts. So it was with trepidation that I approached this novel as sometimes things you loved as a teenager turn out to be a bit crap as an adult.
Anyway I had been meaning to read this novel for a long time; since living in Spain I have been eager to learn more about Spanish history and the story of Isabel and Fernando is a really interesting one, they are two of the most influential characters in Spanish history, largely because of the way they united Spain.
The story revolves around Isabella (Isabel) who along with her brother, Alfonso are half-sister and brother of the new king of Castile Henry IV. Unfortunately they have a mother who shows signs of insanity (this is obviously where Isabella´s daughter Juana La Loca got it from) and she is convinced that because of the sinful living of Henry that one of her children is destined to be the next monarch. At a young age Isabella is betrothed to Fernando, the prince of Aragon , she sees this as a sign that God wants her to unite the two kingdoms and defeat the Moors in Andalucía. What follows throughout her youth are numerous intrigues at the courts of both Castile and Aragon; fathers killing their sons, nobles trying to overthrow the king, illegitimate princesses, unfaithful queens, civil wars, etc. I had never realised there was so much scandal at the courts during this time, it is a really exciting period of Spanish history.
I did some research to see how much of a liberty Plaidy had taken with the facts and pretty much all of the key aspects of the novel are rooted in fact. This is a fantastic historical novel and I now plan to read the rest in the trilogy (if I can get hold of them). It is a page turner, although it was a little repetitive towards the end. Anyone who loves historical novels or is interested in the history of Spain should read this book. Random House has re-issued her novels so they are now more easily available, hurrah!