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Publisher's Summary

One of history's most enigmatic women tells the haunting, passionate story of her tumultuous life. Juana of Castile is just thirteen when she witnesses the fall of Moorish Granada and the uniting of the fractured kingdoms of Spain under her warrior parents, Isabel and Fernando. Intelligent, beautiful, and proud of her heritage, Juana rebels when she is chosen as a bride for the Hapsburg heir - until she comes face-to-face with Prince Philip the Fair, a man who will bring her the greatest of passions, and the darkest despair.

When tragedy decimates Juana's family in Spain, she suddenly finds herself heiress to Castile, a realm prey to scheming lords bent on thwarting her rule. The betrayal of those she loves plunges Juana into a ruthless battle of wills - a struggle of corruption, perfidy, and heart-shattering deceit that could cost her the crown, her freedom, and her very life.

©2008 C.W. Gortner (P)2008 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A novel of ravishing power....With compassion and deep respect, Gortner brings Juana la Loca to vivid life." (Malaga Daily)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Bonnie
  • Bellmore, NY, United States
  • 10-15-08

This is a historical "Novel"

Told in the first person, this is a Novel first with historical time lines. It is written and read beautifully. The last queen of Argonne is a story of corruption, betrayal, repression of woman, and abuse of power. There is very little known about Juana, especially because she was not able to assume her rightful place as Queen because of her husband, father, and son. Her children became very powerful, they even her daughters. I wonder what a difference it would have made if Juana were born in a different time, and lived at the same time as Elizabeth I. Would there ever have been a Spanish armada?

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Audio production:
There were times when Marguerite Gavin’s voice was so breathy that it bothered me and there is one spot in the beginning of the second half where her voice changes completely in tone and volume in the middle of sentence then goes back to how it sounded at the beginning it kind of threw me and think it was some kind of editing gone wrong. ( I meant to write it down at what time but didn’t). but all in all I thought she did a pretty good job at the narration although it was uneven at times.

Another fascinating book, as historical fiction I don’t know how much is true but I like that it wasn’t that Juana was really loco but that her husband & Father drove her to action and they spread the rumors that she was mad. I have read plenty of books about women being put in asylums because they didn’t act in a way their husband or fathers thought they should and this was closer to our own time than this so it is easy for me to believe that this may have been the case with Juana. Also who wouldn’t go mad when everything you know and love is ripped from you and you sent away never to see anyone again?

People romanticize royals so much but the more I read about them I think it’s really a terrible life, someone else is always running your life, there is always someone out to usurp your throne, you have to put up with all these people with their own agendas especially the religious leaders that seem to want to rule over everything.

I read The Queen’s Vow first then this one and I’m glad I read them in this order instead of the published order because this book picks up pretty much where the Queen’s Vow leaves off so it was interesting to see the relationship with her mother before I got to the book about her, so for people who haven’t discover this author yet, I’d read them in the order I have.

This is historical “fiction” and for me when an author takes liberties I don’t mind and as I said above I liked this take on her life, even if it isn’t factual, if I wanted completely factual I would read a non-fiction. But what this does is makes me want to do more research and read up on what her life was really like and for me that’s the key to historical fiction when it makes you want to find out more.

I am hooked on C.W. Gortner and the Spanish Royals I’ve already bought another book about Juana & Catalina/Catherine to continue my immersion into this time period. I will also be getting any other books written by this author!

4 ½ Stars

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


This would have made a somewhat good story if it weren't based on an actual person. Even then, it would be a stretch to find any sympathy for this woman. The author chose to leave out the fact that Juana of Castile was insane, only alluding to a "madness" which was allegedly invented by everyone around her in an effort to take over her throne. She didn't "go mad with grief" as the author contends, but likely suffered from a genetic psychosis which her grandmother also had. Her outrageous jealous rants over her husband are well-documented as was her refusal to allow his body to be buried, instead shlepping his rotting course around the country, sleeping with it in fields at night, with her arms around it, oblivious to the stench. The cruelty of the men closest to her seems to be invented her as a way to justify Juana's bad behaviors. If you just want to read a fairy tale about a haughty, vain Spanish princess who somehow survives in a world where every man in several countries was a total cad, womanizer, abuser, killer, usurper, or schemer, then this is for you. But if you know even one historical fact about Juana, this book will be a confusing mish-mash. Even if this story was totally fiction, then Juana's actions in this book still show her to be unstable, not caring how others are affected by her poorly thought-out escape plans and other ridiculousness. I'm glad I bought this book on sale.

19 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Julie
  • Le Center, MN, USA
  • 04-23-09


This was a completely new take on the story of Juana la Loca than I had ever heard before. I was riveted, and could thoroughly believe this version of the events at the end of her life which seem so inexplicable as usually taught in history class.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Meghan
  • De Beque, CO, United States
  • 08-31-11

Very Dissapointed

The first half of the story was very interesting and flowed well. By the second half I was wishing her into a dungeon myself! The narrator was WAY too dramatic throughout the story. So much so that at some points it was almost comical. I could harldy finish this book. Don't waste your credits on this one.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • benoibe
  • New Orleans, LA, United States
  • 12-08-12

A Must Read!

CW Gortner has written an unbelievably fascinating novel bout a woman who has been largely forgotten and branded as a lunatic. Historically called Juana La Loca, or Juana the crazy, this woman suffered tremendously. Yet it is her sister Katherine of Aragon that is far more remembered. (Henry VIII's first wife)

From an innocent girl in love, to a prisoner held hostage by the ambitions of men, Juana was brutally betrayed by her husband, her own father and even her sons. It's heart-breaking and terrifying. But very addictive reading!!

Although Juana of Castile is one of the more tragic historical figures I've come across, the author writes her story beautifully and concisely, and with respect and dignity.

A captivating story that is impossible to put down. I stayed up all night, finishing it in one sitting! That is rare for me with this type of book!

Highly recommended!!

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Interesting times profoundly unintersting heroine

The novel "The Last Queen" is set in an important and action packed Era unfortunately the author has chosen to portray them through the eyes of a hapless historical character, Juana, who based on the historical facts presented, made no significant contribution. The fact that she was a women is presented as an excuse but it rings false given that at about the same time a number of strong women made their mark (ex. the lives of her own mother and sister). The author strives mightily to make the banal goings on important but fails. Take warning - this is a bodice ripper and not a great one at that.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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A little clunky, not my favorite.

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No. The writing was a little clunky in style, and it made it hard to get through.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Very interesting!!!

A totally new spin on the Juana la loca theme. Great for those with an interest in her life. However I think most scholars would agree it’s a little heavy on the fiction side. Still a must.

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Narrator is AWFUL

She is terrible at voices. She makes all the men sound sinister, even in casual dialogues, and makes all the women sound breathlessly on the verge of hysterics or tears, or both.
The narration was fine, and the emotional inflection as the main character appropriate but my God she ruined the dialogue.

The story itself is good. I dislike Gortner’s exercise of artistic license and his rearranging of events to suit his narrative. I think the real story is fascinating enough and didn’t really need rearranging. Otherwise it was an engaging story that gives the historical figures new depths and turns them not deeply flawed human. Would definitely recommend to Phillipa Gregory fans who, like me, have whetted their literary appetites on her excellent (if slightly biased) historical fiction are looking for something similar - just with a different narrator!!