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Ironfire: An Epic Novel of Love and War Paperback – April 26, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Delta; Reprint edition (April 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385338066
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385338066
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #578,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The Ottoman Empire's vicious 1565 assault on the island fortresses of Malta, and the vigorous defense of the island by the Knights of St. John, a military religious order dedicated to preserving Christendom from the Muslims, serves as the backdrop for Ball's second historical epic (his first novel, Empires of Sand, chronicled France's efforts to expand its North African empire in the 1870s). Amid bloody land and sea battles, four protagonists struggle to survive in a world of disease, brutality and religious persecution. Nico, a young Maltese boy, is captured by Algerian corsairs in a pirate raid and taken to North Africa, where he serves as a slave to a shipbuilder. To save his life, he converts to Islam and becomes captain of one of the sultan's war galleys. Maria, Nico's sister, vows to find and rescue her brother, but priests, knights and her own desire for revenge thwart her plans. Christien Luc de Vries is an unwilling Knight of St. John who prefers studying medicine and surgery to butchering Muslims. Father Giulio Salvago is an Inquisitor determined to stamp out heresy through torture and fear, but whose own guilt over past sins torments him. All four characters confront lies, broken vows and unexpected twists in their efforts to vanquish their enemies and save themselves during the massive Turkish siege of Malta. Ball's bold, gruesome descriptions convincingly evoke the savagery of this 16th-century religious war and the treachery and zealotry of Muslim and Christian authorities alike.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Cultures clash and fates converge during the siege of Malta in 1565. Kidnapped by Algerian slavers as a young boy, Nico Borg holds out hope that the Order of the Knights of St. John, sworn to protect his native Malta from Muslim and Jewish infidels, will one day rescue him. When that does not happen, Nico becomes increasingly torn between his Christian roots and his Muslim lifestyle. After witnessing her brother's abduction, Maria Borg is more determined than ever to escape from a life of poverty and despair. Though pledged to the Knights of Saint John as an infant, Christien Luc de Vries longs to defy his father's wishes and ignore his distinguished pedigree as the son of a count. These three lives intersect as a furious battle is waged for Malta, a barren outpost prized for its strategic location as a crossroads between the East and the West. Ball brings the tail end of the Crusades to life in a substantial piece of historical fiction that sizzles with action, romance, and drama. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

This book is a page turner.
Peter Cross
Overall I am glad I read this book, and can say I truly enjoyed much of it, and I learned many interesting things.
Colin P. Lindsey
It goes into graphic sexual detail during certain parts and uses unneeded explicit language in other parts.
Matthew J. Taylor

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Ron Franscell, Author of 'The Darkest Night' on January 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If walls could talk, would they tell stories of the past, present or future?
While exploring Malta for "Ironfire," author David Ball rented a small room overlooking the Grand Harbor and its ancient battlements of St. Elmo and St. Angelo -- 16th century fortresses made legendary in the final conflict of the Crusades.
"At night, when it's quiet enough, and if you're listening carefully," Ball says today, "you can still hear the walls [of the forts] whispering their tales."
Perhaps they spoke to him of knights and pirates. Or perhaps something bigger: A world where West and Middle East might never set aside two millennia of discord.
Ball's third novel is one of those sweeping historical epics that encompasses diverse cultures and decades in a part of the world -- and human affairs -- that is still scoured by the crosswinds of conflict. His history is concrete, but a novel is not merely a history textbook. It must engage the reader with characters, literally individual humans with dreams, losses, flaws, quests, regrets, fears, faith and misgivings. Pasternak did it. So did Clavell, Michener and Jean Auel.
Comes now David Ball, who has built an action-packed, often erotic and always sensual epic-adventure around a handful of well-developed characters swept up in the maelstrom of 16th century holy wars between two different worlds. Merely developing three-dimensional characters in modern publishing is a rare notion; sustaining a reader's interest in them over nearly 700 pages is the literary equivalent of finding weapons of mass destruction in Baghdad. It might happen, but it's damned hard to do.
But in 1552, there are no weapons of mass destruction. Battles are fought with blades, pikes, crude firearms, armor and horses.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mary Reinert on February 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After what I thought was a weak start and a bit "over the top" especially regarding the character of Nico, I found myself drawn into the time, cultures, and conflicts of the Knights of Malta. Even Nico as he evolved into Asha became a fascinating character and a great look at what becomes of individuals who are torn from their culture and injected into another one especially when they are young. The character of Christien Luc de Vries was especially interesting. His struggles with the expectations of his father, his fascinationg with surgery, and his place among the Knights of Malta make for interesting internal conflicts. And of course, the juxtaposition of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism on one small island gives a great background for the struggles we are still facing. Overall, a great read.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By tony on January 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up in Huartulco Mexico while on vacation and just could not put it down! I read the entire thing while on vacation and found it mesmerising and exciting. The author writes in a style which is very passionate, but also highly informative and tells a wonderful tale. Read this one!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Reviewer on June 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
It didn't take long to figure David Ball politics, and once you do, the novel becomes boring, predictable and formulaic, every priest is a rapist and hypocrite, if a European Christian character is a good guy he is not religious. Islam and Judaism are open and noble religions, Christianity is filled with bigots. Once he introduces the Jewish characters, in their merry Fiddler on the roof shetl, we know right that given 21st century political correctness that characters will be confined to comic book virtues and goodness.

The rest of his 'good' characters are laughably wooden and predictable... oh and completely out of place in 1565 Malta. Although he does depict the Muslim practice of enslaving Christians he almost makes it seem like philanthropy.

Not only does Ball's bias make for tiresome writing, but inaccurate history- I realize this is a novel, but if you base it on a historical event, and then go about completely distorting that historical event then the whole premise of the novel falls apart. It simply becomes impossible to suspend disbelief. I kept getting the impression the author was more interested in creating a negative image of the Knights and Christianity then creating a good story.

Though many Maltese resented the knight's presence, many more welcomed the protection they brought to this strategic island. If there is an extraordinary characteristic of the entire siege it is the fact that no Maltese betrayed the knights, none, despite threats of death and slavery, even contemplated surrender.

Ball completely ignores this reality and as nearly every historian has pointed out - it was the faith of the knights and people, that gave them nearly superhuman courage and resistance.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Pat W Jusuf on January 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
The same novel by the same author was also titled under the novel name of "The Sword and the Scimitar."

If you like:

the Mediterranean history, the Crusades, the Ottomans & Bernard Cornwell, then surely you will enjoy this book.

It is a story of 3 main protagonists: Nico Borg, Maria Borg & Christien deVries with a background of historical places in the Mediterranea, mainly in Malta. Circling around the romances and conflicts between these protagonists and between the Church and Islam, the author deftly manipulates the plot in a way one cannot put down the book.

The main plot evolved around the Crusaders, i.e., the Hospitalers, last stronghold in Malta with its arch-nemesis Ottoman empire in the East, i.e., in Turkey, to be precise. During the last few decades of the Crusade spirit, the last bastion of the Roman Catholic empire was challenged by the Ottomans. In the tick of this intrigued, Nicolo Borg was stuck between his European decendant-Christian belief and his newly found future in the Ottomans.

Barbarossa was even discussed in quite some details by the writer, since during many European-Ottoman clashes involved the Mediterranean sea battles, piratings, hijackings and kidnappings. Many parts of the plot involved locations situated on or nearby the sea.

There was also a steel-hearted girl-lady, Maria Borg. She endured a lot since childhood all the way to her adult years, even during the Malta besiege and war between two entities she hated the most, the Crusaders/the Church and the Ottomans.

The historical representation is amazingly acute, for I am an avid history buff myself. Do not judge this book by its cover or title, read it by yourself! Leaking more plots in this book I cannot do, for reading it is a must. I hope David Ball writing finesse will continue in his future endeavours. A must read book for history fanatics. Bravo!
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