A long list- this the fifth- of substantial, elaborately panoplied historicals have come from Lawrence Schoonover, giving us backgrounds of the France of the Spider King and Chevalier de Brunne, the Crusades, Constantinople- and now Spain, again a 15th century setting, with Isabella and Ferdinand as central characters. The sympathy of the writer is with Isabella; Ferdinand emerges as cold, calculating, ambitious, a good soldier. Holding closely to the facts of history, Schoonover tells a story of crowding events, when petty kingdoms bickered for power, when monarchs bartered their infants in marriage, when tricks were played to insure succession, when the Crusades -- the Inquisition -- the struggle to oust the Moors from Europe all kept Europe and Asia a battlefield. Isabella won to her throne against fearful odds- and held it against worse ones. But -- as the story nears its end- the Moors are defeated, Spain more or less united in uneasy peace- and Columbus setting his face to the West to gain a New World. Picaresque romantic recreation of history, rather than straight fiction.