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Customer Review

36 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an amazingly engaging read., 25 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Sword and Scimitar (Hardcover)

This book covers an amazingly complex time in history, and a particularly thorny issue in modern times. In nearly 450 years we really have not come that far in terms of religion. What amazes me is how little I knew about the siege of Malta and the total change it would have had on the face of europe if the Knights of the Order of St John had lost.

I have been to Malta a few times and have seen so many of the places, stood on some of the streets and monuments written about in this book, and yet I still didn't truly comprehend the momentous battle that took place. To have lost would have probably meant the sweep of Islam into western Europe, changing the entire face of history. There are very few times in history when the world and its current order have been balanced on a knife-edge.

Other moments in time that spring to mind (with great books attached) The Mongols sweeping into Europe, if not for the death of Ogedai they would have carried on unstoppable all the way to the English Channel and beyond (read Conn Igguldens Conqueror series) also the battle at Marathon, where a Greek loss would have meant Greece falling under the dominion of Persia, there would have been no classical period, there may possibly have been no Rome or at best a greatly altered Rome. So much art and culture lost and changed, the whole mediterranean dynamic would have changed, (Read the Long War series by Christian Cameron).

When you understand the above it makes the writing of this books seem so ambitious to border on nuts. Yet Simon Scarrow in his own unique style provides the perfect narrator in the form of Sir Thomas Barrett. As usual the lead character engages the reader from the start, you sympathise with his situation in life and root for his underdog situation, and sympathise with the way life has treated him, the book makes you feel the characters. Then you add in his vivid description of the places, the battles, both sides of the fight. He brings to life the roar of the cannon, the desperation of the siege and the courage of both the defenders and the fanatical courage of the attackers.

The bravest part of this book though, has to be the perfect balancing act between Christianity and Islam. At no point does Simon denigrate either religion, he doesn't push an agenda for either religion, he just tells you what happened and leaves you to think for yourself about the insanity religion brought, brings and will keep bringing to this world. Killing in the name of doctrine differences is wrong, but that is my conclusion, not Simons, he provided me the history and the framework to make that decision, and he did it with an amazingly engaging read.

This is Simons best work to date and well worth £10 of anyones money

Highly recommended


Book Description

1565; In its hour of greatest need, Malta must rely upon the ancient Knights of the Order of St John for survival. Bound by the strongest ties: of valour, of courage and of passion, the Knights must defend their island against ferocious and deadly Ottoman attack. For Sir Thomas Barrett, summoned by the Order and compelled by loyalty - to the Knights, to his honour and to his Queen - returning to the besieged island means revisiting a past he had long since lain to rest. As the beleaguered Knights grapple to retain control, decade-old feuds will be reawakened, intense passions rekindled and deadly secrets revealed.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 May 2013 14:22:51 BDT
Indeed! says:
Nice spoiler there to those who don't know their history (like me).

In reply to an earlier post on 13 May 2013 15:09:32 BDT
Last edited by the author on 13 May 2013 15:10:58 BDT
Parm says:
Really...Really... If you think this review has any spoilers then i suggest you give up reading reviews. There is not one iota of info in this review that will spoil a persons enjoyment of this book.

A comment and a no vote im sure posted from a troll account that has not reviewed a single item on amazon. So just another troll trying to be a hater!

Posted on 5 Oct 2014 14:21:31 BDT
Joe Scicluna says:
Hi Parm,

I appreciate the high quality of this review. As a person who know Malta, I thought you might be willing review my historical novel entitled "Ricasoli Soldier" published by Faraxa. I have also written a number of non-fiction historical fiction books about early 19th century Malta but this is my first attempt at historical fiction. Ricasoli is the name of a fort in Malta where much of the story is based. The book is based on the gripping true story of six mercenaries in the pay of the British army who had to resort to desperate measures to avoid a death sentence. Although the story includes a touch of romance it is essentially about survival and depicts the harsh conditions faced by foreign soldier under British command. The book is well-researched and gives the reader some insights about the rich and intriguing history of the small Mediterranean island on which I was born.

Should you be interested I'd be happy to ask my publisher to send you the e-book in exchange for your honest evaluation.


- Joe
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