The Religion

  • by Tim Willocks
  • Narrated by Simon Vance
  • 25 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 12 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 Triology, 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 place 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.

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What the Critics Say

"Willocks...strikes gold with this epic account." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

gripping but shallow & too graphic

First, this is a "page turner." It is a very gripping book and the narration is excellent. That said, the book has two flaws which make it something of a one time read rather than a book that I will return to again.
1)My first criticism is a little superficial: This is without exception, the most graphic book I have ever read. I am not by any stretch of the imagination either a prude or squeamish (I am a eight year veteran of the Army and have seen my fair share of blood and have never thought of myself as the least bit puritanical) however the incredibly evocative descriptions of wounds, torture (much of it done by the protagonists), murder, rape, violence of all stripes, and battle border upon the sick and the amount of very explicit sexual descriptions passed the merely titillating and verge on the pornographic. What made this particularly notable is that it is repeated to the point of tedium. An occasional graphic scene is not a problem, the problem here was that it was repeated over and over and over. Again, this is from a person who has never had a negative reaction in his life to a graphic bit of writing. This is however, a relatively superficial criticism, if you can get past the massive overdose of explicit sex and violence.
2) More damning are the inconsistencies in the plot and the rather weak to non-existent character development. Oddly enough, whenever there is any character development it is so abrupt or so out of character as too be annoying. Unfortunately, I cannot explain this in more detail without giving away points of the plot.
In sum, this book is gripping and a great fun read but its quality was severely reduced by shoddy character development and a dozens of frankly overly graphic scenes.
FYI I strongly advise the book Empires of the Sea on Audible which covers (non-fiction) the siege of Malta very well.
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- Matthew

This captured me

From the very start of this story, I was drawn into it so completely, I didn't want to stop. The history and horror of the time is vivid and passionate. If you enjoy Historical Novels and Simon Vance reads beautifully, you will enjoy this piece. I hope there will be a follow up on this novel.
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- Bonnie "BJS"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-08-2007
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio