1565 and the Turkish Empire is descending on Malta. If they can capture it, then the whole of Christian Europe could fall easily to them. The Knights of the Order of St John, who have defended the island against the Turks in the past, are pushed to extremes and need every man they can call on - including disgraced English knight Sir Thomas Barrett. When he receives their summons, he feels compelled to return to Malta and offer whatever help he can even though it means facing his past and those who threw him out many years before. His planned journey does not go unnoticed however and Queen Elizabeth's adviser, Sir Robert Cecil, gives him an extra mission - to help retrieve a missing scroll written by her father, Henry VIII, which could threaten her reign.
Sword and Scimitar is a great read for lovers of historical 'action' novels - there are naval battles, hand to hand combat, the terror of living through bombardment during the siege, political intrigue, old rivalries and, of course, romance. For my personal taste I'd have liked more intrigue and less blow by blow fight scenes; they weren't overly bloody and gory but I just found them too long. It's also a little too easy to guess some of Thomas's personal story and maybe the ends all tie off too well. Thomas himself is an intriguing character - hanging on to his Catholic faith despite protestantism sweeping the country, while at the same time no longer believing that wars should be fought over religion - the very state of affairs that calls him back to Malta. All in all, it's an enjoyable historical romp highlighting a piece of little known history when the future of Europe hung in the balance - and I'm sure there are plenty of readers who will love the combat scenes.
Maryom's review - 3.5 starsPublisher - Headline
Genre - Historical fiction
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