Sword and Scimitar is the new book from Simon Scarrow and is set during the epic siege of Malta in 1565. Pitching the vast Muslim armies of the Ottoman Empire against the Knights of St John, the last of the crusading religious orders.
The English Knight, Sir Thomas Barrett is summoned back to Malta 20 years after his disgrace and exile from the order. A soldier and mercenary, his expertise is badly needed if the tiny garrison is to hold back the Islamic horde. Sir Thomas’s problem don’t end with trying to survive the siege, he has to deal with his fellow knights who have never forgiven him for bringing disgrace to the order and he must also help an agent of a hostile English government retrieve a secret document that could bring down the government of Elizabeth I.
As the Knights and their allies prepare for the onslaught, Sir Thomas struggles to deal with the secrets and lies of his allies and enemies alike and one of those secrets will blow his world apart.
As the Islamic host descends onto the Island, he must put all that aside as the desperate fight begins. Asked to defend the strategically important fort of St Elmo for as long as possible he must use his expertise and skill to hold back the attackers.
As the attacks begin, the defenders know that if they fail to hold back the Ottoman army they will be slaughtered to the last man.
With the siege and fighting becoming ever more bitter, can this small band of Christian knights defy the might of the Ottoman emperor and save Europe from the terror of an Islamic invasion? Europe holds it breath as the outcome hangs by a thread.
I have been a fan of Simon Scarrow since the first Marco and Cato book and this book hasn’t disappointed. Taking this pivotal but less well known episode of European history he has shown just how desperate the conflict between Christianity and Islam really was.
The siege is extremely well written and captures the desperation, bravery and fanaticism of both sides as they throw everything at each other in a bid to end the siege victorious. Scarrow doesn’t choose sides and both sides are shown as barbaric and intolerant.
This book is more than just a book about war, it is also a mystery as Sir Thomas tries to find the secret document that the English government is desperate to find.
In Sir Thomas, Scarrow has created a great character who has lived a life in the shadows since his disgrace but on his return to Malta finds redemption and a new reason to live. With a good supporting cast you get a good sense of the comradeship as men live a life of terror, bloodshed and death.
One thing I really enjoyed was Scarrow’s use of famous speeches, which he has adapted for the book. I won’t tell you which ones but I’m sure you will recognize them!
I really enjoyed this book and it is a shame it is just a one off. Mr Scarrow has delivered again.
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