History's Great Queens 2-Book Bundle: The Last Queen and The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

BOOK: History's Great Queens 2-Book Bundle: The Last Queen and The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
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The Last Queen
and
The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
are works of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

A Ballantine eBook Edition

The Last Queen
copyright © 2006 by C. W. Gortner
The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
copyright © 2010 by C. W. Gortner
Excerpt from
The Queen’s Vow
by C. W. Gortner copyright © 2012 by C. W. Gortner

All Rights Reserved.

Published in the United States by Ballantine, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

B
ALLANTINE
is a registered trademark and the Ballantine colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.

The novels contained in this omnibus were each published separately by Ballantine, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., in 2008 and 2010.

This book contains an excerpt from the forthcoming book
The Queen’s Vow
by C. W. Gortner. This excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content of the forthcoming edition.

Cover photograph: Peer Lindgren

The Last Queen
Published in the United States by Ballantine Books
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2008 by C. W. Gortner
eISBN: 978-0-345-50741-9

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
Published in the United States by Ballantine Books
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2010 by C. W. Gortner
eISBN: 978-0-345-52194-1

C.W. Gortner: History’s Great Queens 2-Book Bundle
Published in the United States by Ballantine
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 by C. W. Gortner
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
www.ballantinebooks.com
eISBN: 978-0-345-53828-4
v3.1

Contents

The Last Queen
is a work of historical fiction. Apart from the well-known actual people, events, and locales that figure in the narrative, all names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to current events or locales, or to living persons, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2006, 2008 by C. W. Gortner

Excerpt from
The Queen’s Vow
copyright © 2012 by C. W. Gortner.

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

Originally published in a different form by Two Bridges Press, in Berkeley, CA, in 2006.

B
ALLANTINE
and colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
Gortner, C. W.
The last queen: a novel / C. W. Gortner.
p. cm.
1. Juana, la Loca, Queen of Castile, 1479–1555—Fiction. 2. Queens—Spain—Castile—Fiction. 3. Spain—Kings and rulers—Fiction I. Title.
PS3607.O78L38 2008
813'.6—dc22                                               2008005491

www.ballantinebooks.com

This book contains an excerpt from
The Queen’s Vow
by C. W. Gortner. This excerpt has been set for this edition and may not reflect the final content of the book.

eISBN: 978-0-345-50741-9

v3.0_r1

Contents

To my mother, Maravillas Blanco,
and my late father, Willis Always Gortner II;
for Spain, a lifelong infatuation with books,
and the courage to persevere.

And to Erik, for always believing.

TORDESILLAS,

1550

M
idnight has become my favorite hour.

The sounds of the night are less intrusive, the shadows like a familiar embrace. By the light of a single candle, my world seems much larger than it is, as large as it once was. I suppose it is the bane of mortality to suffer time as it narrows and confines, to know that never again will anything seem as wide, as open, as attainable as it did in our youth.

I have had more occasion than most to reflect on the passage of the years. But it is only now, in this quiet hour, when all those who surround me have surrendered to sleep, that I can see clearly. It is a consolation, the knowledge, a gift I do not wish to squander on recrimination or vain regret. History may not forgive, but I must.

Hence, this blank page, the sharpened feather and the pot of ink. My hand does not tremble as much; my legs do not pain me so that I cannot sit in this grand, if somewhat frayed, chair. The memories tonight are vivid, not evanescent; they evoke and entice. They do not haunt. If I close my eyes, I can smell the smoke and jasmine, the fire and rose; I can see the vermilion walls of my beloved palace, mirrored in a child’s eyes. Thus did it begin, all of it, in the fall of Granada.

And so tonight, I will bear witness to the past. I will inscribe everything I have lived and seen, everything I have done, every secret I have hidden.

I will remember, because a queen can never forget.

BOOK: History's Great Queens 2-Book Bundle: The Last Queen and The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
13.49Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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