Clash of Empires: The Red Sea Hardcover – 5 Jul 2012
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Two worlds locked in bloody conflict, two warriors far from home...
About the Author
William Napier was born in 1965 and educated in Cheltenham, Oxford and London. He lives in Wiltshire and travels widely.
Top customer reviews
The same qualities and problems are very much in the evidence in this book, although there are a bit less of the latter simply because our two young English heroes are now 22, instead of the very improbable 15-16 years old during the siege of Malta.
The descriptions of the two sieges (Nicosia and Famagusta) and of the naval battle of Lepanto are gripping, and shown in all their horror and terror. Just as in the Great Siege, the effects of the Turkish relentless bombardments during the sieges are particularly "realistic". So are the assaults and, more generally, the hand to hand fighting. The horrendous living conditions of slave galleys are also very well rendered.
The historical characters are also well drawn. This is particularly the case of Don Juan of Austria, the bastard half-brother of King Philip II of Spain. The latter's attitude in delaying the formation of the Holy League was partly due to the insurrection of the Moriscos in Southern Spain, partly because he was wary of giving his half-brother any chance to acquire glory and fame, as shown in the book, but also because he was facing rebellion on Flanders. The portraits of the governors of Nicosia and Famagusta "feel" real and what happened to them is historically accurate.
I did, however, have the same kind of problems with this book as with the Great Siege. At times, our heroes' deeds appear hardly credible. This starts with their two years of captivity, continues with their being lost at sea for a couple of days and then goes on with their rather miraculous survival of the two sieges with only a couple of scratches. Again and just like the Great Siege, this reads, at times, like an adventure story drafted for teenagers. The two English Knights of Malta - Smith and Stanley - also verge on being caricatures or cardboard characters. The Turks, who twice fail to identify them as Knights - and treat them accordingly - seem to be implausibly incompetent or naïve, especially given that fact that the Knights, who seem to be the "James Bond" equivalents of their Order, seem to make rather poor imitations of Venetian ambassadors.
The author claims to have stayed as close to the historical facts as possible, with his compression of the timeline being his main liberty. There are a few others, however, and all of them are intended to boost dramatic effects. Don Juan, whatever his qualities may have been, was not the "inventor" of the gun platforms into which the galleasses were transformed into. I also seem to remember that there was more than just one galley of the Knights of Malta present at Lepanto, although they kind take a beating and, through their sacrifice, they did delay and probably saved the Christian fleet from being destroyed.
Despite everything, this was a good, exciting and thrilling book to read, although, for the reasons mentioned above, it is not really one on my personal favorites.
All in when you add solid prose, great pace and of course characters that you want to hang around then you're in for a treat especially when you add some in depth research that gives an authenticity to the whole piece. Great fun all round and for me a top notch new series that is living up to my expectations.
The books sweep the reader forward from confrontation to confrontation, with a good parcel of humour mixed in, I found it vey difficult to put down.
If you need a suggestion for a Christmas gift from the family you will have to go far to beat this.
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