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The Religion Paperback – 3 May 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (3 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099493594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099493594
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 393,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Macho, sexy, profoundly bloody and concerned with spiritual salvation. This wondeful adventure story is also an unavoidably resonant meditation on the power of religion to incite war... The Religion contains some beautiful prose (The Sunday Telegraph)

With a slow-burning pace and a knack for a cliffhanger, Willocks builds the tension terrifically amid graphic slaughter and velvet-gloved treachery . . . paints its broad strokes with inventiveness and intelligence (Time Out)

A gripping story with reliable factual underpinnings (Times Literary Supplement)

A novel of high adventure, blood, guts and romantic love . . . as master craftsman, [Willocks] tells his story with extraordinary pace (Literary Review)

This sprawling epic brims with religious passions, political intrigue and steamy romance. A thrilling plot (Library Journal)

Book Description

They lived for it. They fought for it! They died for it!

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Fiona Scerri-headley on 13 Mar. 2007
Format: Hardcover
I admit I was sceptical. I have always been suspicious of novels surrounding the Great Siege of Malta, possibly because it is the story of my own homeland. For such a significant episode in history, it has been largely passed-over in favour of others. Knowing the background and the places in which the events occurred, so well, I was anxious as to what I might find within the pages of "The Religion".

I was therefore pleasantly surprised. As a writer Willocks grips you straight into the first chapter. He combines high-flown poetic imagery with desciptions of the basest of human emotions and vices. The juxtaposition of the two make for a roller-coaster ride with very few pauses along the way.

The story follows the exploits of one Mattia Tannhauser, a Saxon-born ex-Janissary turned adventurer based in 16th century Sicily, who is persuaded by the Grand Master of the Order of St. John, via the palpable charms of the Maltese Contessa Carla and her fey companion Amparo, to lend his aid to the Order in the fight against the might of the Ottoman Empire. The Contessa engages him to help her find her illegitimate son left behind in Malta when she was forcibly married off. Their search, compounded by the siege and the malevolent presence of Ludovico Ludovici, representative of the Inquisitor General and father of Carla's bastard son, is only the main thread that weaves through a whole tapestry of events.

Willocks' account of siege warfare, the glory, the honour, the desperation, savagery and gore, place the reader forcibly in its midst. His main character, due to his background, is uniquely able to cross the lines of battle allowing the reader to observe the behaviour of both sides.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By D. Norman on 11 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
THE RELIGION by Tim Willocks.

Picture this.

It is the year 1565. The Emperor of the Ottomans has despatched a huge armada. They set sail to Malta. Where they will face the Christian Knights of St John of Jerusalem. What follows is a huge fictional account, penned by Tim Willocks. The Island of Malta is besieged. Against this mighty struggle between these two opposing armies, enters Mattias Tannhauser.

THE RELIGION is a powerhouse historical novel. The best I have ever read. The seven hundred plus pages, just raced.

Mattias Tannhauser is the central character. He is completely unique. He can be brutal. He can be as barbaric as the enemy he is fighting. Yet he possesses an amazing and deep sincerity. He would rate well, with many modern day fictional heroes. He can be and occasionally is, manipulating. He can be as ferocious as the occasion dictates. Perhaps, even more so to those he considers his enemy. But to his friends, to his comrades in arms, he is a man to be relied upon. To be trusted with their lives.

The battle scenes are, in parts, horrendously graphic. This is not a book for the squeamish. Yet again, the love that blossoms between Mattias and Carla, and his `blood red rose`, Amparu, reveal the deeply passionate and emotional side of his character.

The story is a quest. Carla, has asked Mattias, to locate her young son. He is currently on the island of Malta, shortly to be besieged by the Turks. The Christian Knights of St John, are determined never to let the Island fall, to the followers of Islam. Through this mayhem, at times fighting for the Christians, and other times, having to fight against them, Mattias endeavours to locate the boy.

I do end this review with some warnings.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By M. R. Houlton-hart on 19 July 2006
Format: Hardcover
After being sent a proof copy of this book I must admit to looking forward to reading it. There had been a lot of positive buzz on this book and I could not wait to see what the fuss was about.

Set in 1565 this novel revolves around the fact that Suleiman the Magnificent, Emperor of the Ottomans would like nothing better than to wipe the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem from the face of the earth. With this in mind he dispatches the largest flotilla in time immemorial to accomplish this task and so the scene is set for one of the most vicious sieges the world has ever known. Whilst this is going on a noblewoman desperately wants to return to the Island, to the Fortress of the Knights, to search for her lost child, an attempt that has been in vain until she requests the help of infamous fortune-hunter to help her run the blockade in set in place. Meanwhile a member of the Spanish Inquisition seeks to imprison her and will do anything in his sadistic grip to capture her.

This is all set around one of the most harrowing and epic sieges in antiquity. A word of warning this book is not for the faint of heart, from the gory prologue to the end of the book there is a lot of violence and blood. Tim Willocks captures the very essence of what it was like to live and breathe in this time and he brings this to the page perfectly which makes for a gripping read. Once I reached the Siege sequence I was very hard put to leave the book. That was possibly one of the greatest parts of any novel I have ever read creating scenes so epic that I was hard put for a comparison to anything I have ever read. Tim Willocks must have put a huge amount of time into researching the time as well as the Siege of Malta as he grasps every historical detail drawing the reader in.
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