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The Religion: A Novel Mass Market Paperback – April 29 2008
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May 1565. Suleiman the Magnificent, emperor of the Ottomans, has declared a jihad against the Knights of Saint John the Baptist. The largest armada of all time approaches the Knights' Christian stronghold on the island of Malta. The Turks know the Knights as the "The Hounds of Hell." The Knights call themselves "The Religion."
In Messina, Sicily, a French countess, Carla la Penautier, seeks a passage to Malta in a quest to find the son taken from her at his birth twelve years ago. The only man with the expertise and daring to help her is a Rabelaisian soldier of fortune, arms dealer, former janissary, and strapping Saxon adventurer by the name of Mattias Tannhauser. He agrees to accompany the lady to Malta, where, amidst the most spectacular siege in military history, they must try to find the boy - whose name they do not know and whose face they have never seen–and pluck him from the jaws of Holy War.
The Religion is Book One of The Tannhauser Trilogy, and from the first page of this epic account of the last great medieval conflict between East and West, it is clear we are in the hands of a master. Not since James Clavell has a novelist so powerfully and assuredly plunged readers headlong into another and time. Anne Rice transformed the vampire novel. Stephen King reinvented horror. Now, in a spectacular tale of heroism, tragedy, and passion, Tim Willocks revivifies historical fiction.
“This sprawling epic brims with religious passions, political intrigue and steamy romance. A thrilling plot.” ―Library Journal (starred review)
“A robust tale that entertains and informs about the 16th century clash between Islam and Christianity. Think Kingdom of Heaven with more IQ points, history and narrative zip.” ―USA Today
“Willocks has created a dazzling hero whose debut will leave readers eager for the next installment.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Stone walls crumble, war machines rumble, bodies fill the ditches, and once in a while there's some terrific sex. A long, bloody, vastly entertaining story.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A rollicking story.” ―Entertainment Weekly
About the Author
Tim Willocks is a novelist and filmmaker. He is the author of the novels Bad City Blues, Green River Rising, and Blood-Stained Kings. He lives in Ireland.
- Publisher : Tor Books; Reprint edition (April 29 2008)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 688 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0765357550
- ISBN-13 : 978-0765357557
- Item weight : 295 g
- Dimensions : 10.64 x 2.74 x 17.02 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,051,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from Canada
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I read the second in this series and liked it better than most books, but it lacked the rawness of the first. Still, a big enough fan to be seeking the third Tanhauser book
Otherwise, Tim Willocks seems quite scattered in his approach to writing. Dunno... If I could write like this guy, guess I'd write whatever I felt like, too...
But in my opinion, his ability to make you live through a battle in real time is rare and I would love to read more from him in this genre.
That being said, you are transported into the battle for Malta. I am curious to learn a little bit more so I would say this book both educates and entertains.
I wasn't entirely pleased with the moral tone of the novel in that it is anit-war in many ways with a "be true to yourself" message underlying the story line.
Worth a read but I can't help but think you may be deflated at the end of the novel.
I cannot wait for the next two installments of this story line.
If you've read and enjoyed the novels of Jack Whyte & Ken Follett - trust me you'll love this.
Top reviews from other countries
I’ve still got 300 of the 700 odd pages to go and I might even read the sequel if I can get it second hand at a really low price.
Willocks earlier stuff is probably some of the finest contemporary fiction I’ve read and Green River Rising is in a class of its own. If you’ve not read Willocks try it first.
I adored Orlandu and Bors. I have a soft spot for both types of character. Orlandu is spunky and young, he's ready to take on the world and I actually thought he was quite funny. Bors is a bloodthirsty Englishman with a love of good food and drink. I'm quite indifferent to Amparo. She was a strange woman, and for most of the novel I kept thinking of her as a girl because despite everything she's been through she seems fairly naive and simple. (view spoiler) Ludovico Ludovici was an awful man, and while I did dislike him for what he did I didn't feel much other than that towards him. The side characters were also really well done. If I was to go through them all we'd be here all day.
Tim Willocks doesn't hold back with The Religion. There's blood and guts smeared throughout the pages. The war isn't romanticised, it's disgusting and graphic. Willocks' writing is insane. The prose is beautifully crafted and woven together. I can't fault it at all. He painted gory pictures of religious war from both sides of the battle lines. We got an insight into the workings of the leaders of both the Christians and the Muslims, and listened as each side declared each other destined for Hell. If you want a real picture of war and sieges and the lives thrown into it without a care, this is the book for you.
A lot of people seem to have a problem with the romance in this but it didn't bother me much. Mattias is a very charming and disarming person, and for both women to warm to him quickly wasn't a surprise. I was surprised when Amparo was the one he fell for, but ultimately I think it made his relationship with Carla very interesting to watch develop.
All in all I loved this novel. What brings it down is that it's just. so. long. In total my edition of The Religion is 771 pages long. It felt like it was 1000 pages long. While I enjoyed reading it and the pacing was good for the vast majority of the book, I just felt like it was taking forever to read. Every time I thought something was going to be wrapped up it just kept going for another couple of hundred pages. One observation or encounter managed to span pages and pages, sometimes a whole chapter, and it did take me out of the experience a little bit. Other than that I can't really fault this novel at all, and I definitely recommend it to people who like this type of story, because it'll be one of the best you read
I actually really enjoyed this book but found it a little too long. There are many sections devoted to battle and these are florid and gruesome but after a while they become repetitious - there is only so much 'gore' or descriptions of 'gobbets of flesh' that one can take. Having said that it is an exciting story and Tannhauser is a likeable anti-hero. In the same way the anti-villain has clear motives for his actions and the lesser cast of characters are quite well-drawn.