"The Religion" is at first glance a classic action-adventure novel on a grand scale. The kind of story like those of Samuel Shellabarger or Thomas Costain that I read as a teen and which captured my imagination. Stories where the heroes were larger than life, defeated the villains and always got the girl. The difference here is that "The Religion" is written with a screenwriter's eye for imagery and a historian's passion for accurate detail that the aforementioned authors were never encumbered by. It's that imagery and detail that makes the author's scenes of battle and battle's aftermath so viscerally vivid and, for some I'm sure, disturbing. The Siege of Malta was fought in an age when steel blades overlapped with gunpowder and the author does not flinch when describing the horrific effects of edged weapons and low velocity firearms on the human body. Nor does he spare us scenes of the human suffering resulting from the virtually nonexistent medical care available to the wounded at the time. In that respect. the novel often reads like an extension of John Keegan's book "The Face of Battle".
What is also remarkable is the author's evenhandedness in his portrayal of the two combatant sides. There are many things to admire in both the Christian and Muslim camps but religious fanaticism, of which both sides are guilty, is portrayed as the unreasoning and frightening force it can be. All in all it makes for some intense and, I found, thought provoking listening.
That aside, students familiar with the history of the Great Siege of Malta will recognize all of the key actions of the struggle and the author can be forgiven the device of having his main character present at, or even the instrument of, most of them.
As always, the narration of Mr Vance breathes life into the text and makes for a throughly enjoyable experience.
This is rip roaring historic adventure, set in the epicenter of the brutal battle between the Hospitaller Knights and the Muslim army of Suleiman the Magnificent on the Isle of Malta in 1565. The plot involves Mattias Tannhauser, a crafty adventurer who is commissioned by Countess Carla la Penautierto to find and rescue her 12-year-old illegitimate son, who was snatched from her grasp at the moment of his birth. Countess Carla knows her son is on the Isle of Malta, but nothing else about him. The undertaking takes Tannhauser, Carla and a couple of their friends to the Isle of Malta, stronghold of the Hospitaller Knights, right on the brink of the historic to-the-death Battle of Malta in all its bloody glory. Willocks knows his history well and the reader feels like he has been plunged into this historical era in all its gritty and brutal glory. Not a pleasant read for the racially sensitive or those offended by graphic descriptions of sex and violence. But it's all integral to the plot and this is a very exciting and enjoyable book. Highly recommended!
Too much excrement!
This is a decent story in a fascinating setting. The historical details are interesting and characters appealing. However, the authors endless fascination with excrement, bowels and soiling oneself in battle detracts from the story - almost to the point that I was going to stop listening. The narrators performance was excellent, however and kept me going.
This is a graphic story. Love the characters. Not fully developed, but they work. The battle scenes and sex get to be a bit long at times, but worth getting to the end. I love long reads, or listens in this case. This is one of the best!
One reason that I like historical fiction is that it gives me an opportunity to learn about history in an entertaining way. “The Religion: A Novel” by Tim Willocks satisfies both: it is an entertaining and adventuresome tale, and it centers on a heretofore unknown to me important event, the siege of Malta in 1565 by the Ottomans. Willocks paints an horrific picture of how gruesome 16th century warfare was, and his fictional characters, although scarcely believable, were within the bounds of this type of fiction which requires larger than life heroes and villains. Willock’s history-based characters play the same roles in the story that they played in history, as far as I could tell from the historical reading on Wikipedia I did along with reading the novel. The strong points of his novel are the relentless action and forward movement of the plot, and the historical setting in the siege of Malta. But, there are some weak points. The book, at 688 pages and 25 1/2 hours, is overly long and could use some serious editing. While each battle is well-described, the overall war strategy of the opposing Christian and Muslim sides is never quite explained. In a similar vein, the author fails to place the battle in its important larger European context. The narration is excellent and adds a great deal to the enjoyment of this audio book. All in all, this is much better than average historical fiction, but it’s not great.
This a great way to tell a historical tale. A man split between two worlds, and his adventures. But there were times that I could barely stay awake. Too much of something, i just can't put my finger on it.
I wanted to like this. It might actually turn out great but I quit in the first downloaded section when they started killing off the dogs on Malta-it was graphic. (I am really crazy about my dogs!) Unlike some reviewers, I found the character development adequate to identify with them (as far as I listened to). But as someone else stated, the author does use 3 words when one would do. I would advise any listener to be warned that many scenes are extremely graphic and not for the faint of heart.