Best-selling author Simon Scarrow brings the Great Siege of Malta to vivid and unforgettable life in this gripping standalone novel.
Malta, 1565: a vital outpost between the divided nations of Europe and the relentlessly expanding Ottoman Empire. Faced with ferocious attack by a vast Turkish fleet, the knights of the Order of St John fear annihilation.
Amongst those called to assist is disgraced veteran Sir Thomas Barrett. Loyalty and instinct compel him to put the Order above all other concerns, yet his allegiance is divided. At Queen Elizabeth's command, he must search for a hidden scroll, guarded by the knights, that threatens her reign. As Sir Thomas confronts the past that cost him his honour and a secret that has long lain buried, a vast enemy army arrives to lay siege to the island....
©2012 Simon Scarow (P)2012 Headline Digital
I have enjoyed all Simon Scarrows books, including this one, but I think his roman "Under the Eagle" series is better.
The main character, Sir Thomas is by far the favorite as he is the main character and so most complete.
No I have not listened to him before
This book starts slow, builds slow, but ends with a bang. The narration is neither great nor terrible. At best, it doesn't interfere with the storytelling, at worst, it can be dry.
The story isn't particularly intricate, you can predict most of the twists before they occur, but intrigue isn't really why people read Scarrow's novels. The reason fan's do is the action, and the action is up to the usual standard... when it starts.
There is a brief battle in the prologue, and a few skirmishes here and there to keep narrative momentum, but the final few hours are an addicitve listen.
You don't bond with the characters like Macro or Cato, but the beginnings of attachment form by the end of the story.
All in all not great, but still well above average for this genre of fiction.
Do I have to write a frickin' review? What if I just want to rate it? Give me a break...
I understand that not everybody has a religious faith. I understand that some people are happy being atheists. What I do not understand is why does Scarrow want to inject his unbelief into the main character and make us see the world through his own rejection of Christianity. These events did not take place during the Enlightenment, but during one of the most religious centuries ever: why not set aside your own bias, Mr. Scarrow, and keep your atheism to yourself?
The best part was the battle for Fort St. Elmo: a very tragic episode in the whole siege, indeed. The least interesting was the convoluted plot to get that mythical testament of Henry VIII...boring!
As long as I do not have to hear him play a female character in falsetto, EVER AGAIN!
All those mentioned as background characters back in England: who cares?
Overall, meh! There are so many wonderful novels about the Great Siege: this has to be the least exciting of all. I will NOT give another shot at any of Scarrow's novels.
As with Simon Scarrow books, he keeps you entertained with he stories. The plot flows effortly through the book making it difficult to stop listening, or reading. Sword and Scimitar was my first venture into Audible books, and will not be my last if you have more authors as good.
I chose this book because I really enjoyed the adventures of Cato & Macro also written by Mr Scarrow. This is another good story in a similar vein to his previous work. This best part of this story is that it comes from a period of history that is not often covered in historical fiction. Its an easy read and the narrator's voice is both easy to follow and keeps the story interesting.
"A Missed Opportunity?"
It's a difficult balance to maintain a strong story line and, at the same time, establish a convincing historical context. In Sword and Scimitar I'm not totally convinced that the momentous historic events in Malta in 1565 are really given the Olympian status they deserve. After all it addresses the seemingly inexorable expansion of the Turkish empire and the last stand of the Knights of St John and the Maltese people who found themselves as the inadvertent rearguard of Christian Europe. Add in a touch of Elizabethan intrigue and a tragic hero then the result should be assured.
However, the focus on the angst of the principal character, for me, detracts from the events and reduces what could have easily been a five star novel into simply a good book. A lighter touch on the personal and a bit more of the titanic struggle during the summer of 1565 would have improved the balance. It almost seemed that the trials of the central character and, to a lesser extent, those around him, ended up as a distraction rather than a focus where events and story line would interweave. The story line was a tad predictable and had a bit of a feel of being artificial.
It's a pity because the subject matter is unusual whilst being momentous and the link between Tudor England and the Mediterranean island was well conceived and worked. Don't get me wrong, it's a good book and, with some massaging of the personal issues, would make a great film. However, I can't but feel that such a powerful structure and a fantastic concept was not fully developed in the final execution.
I liked the narration in the main although I'm not sure that the understanding of Oliver's character was helped by the tone of voice.
Good but not gripping.
"A historic story"
This book covers an era in history I didn't know anything about and found most interesting. The story features believable characters in historic circumstances in a very entertaining book. Well worth a listen
"Start of a new series?"
One of the top audio books I have listened to.
If you love the Cato books then you will enjoy this exciting siege story with a few twists and shocks. Superb.
The voices of the characters fit perfectly to how I saw them / heard them in my mind. Never once did the performance pull me out of the story. Very good.
No spoilers but I was very surprised about what happened to the characters at the end.
Another fine story from Simon Scarrow. A must buy!!
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