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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good read and interesting history
Mr. Scarrow is a very good writer of historical fiction. I like the Roman legion stories better and the religious skepticism in this book became annoying, but this is a good read on a compelling historical foundation.
Published 13 months ago by B. Dench

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An off-day at the office for Scarrow
I've enjoyed the "Eagle" series set in the ancient Roman world, so it was a real surprise to find myself struggling to get through "Sword and Scimitar". The different setting isn't the issue either; the problem lies with some decidedly average writing. No way round it - Scarrow's latest offering is clunky, predictable and quite frankly tedious. There's more excitement to...
Published on December 1, 2012 by Selene


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An off-day at the office for Scarrow, December 1, 2012
By 
Selene (New Zealand) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sword and Scimitar (Hardcover)
I've enjoyed the "Eagle" series set in the ancient Roman world, so it was a real surprise to find myself struggling to get through "Sword and Scimitar". The different setting isn't the issue either; the problem lies with some decidedly average writing. No way round it - Scarrow's latest offering is clunky, predictable and quite frankly tedious. There's more excitement to be had at a Downton Abbey tea-party - especially if the Dowager Duchess is on form! I couldn't have cared less whether the Turks disposed of our sanctimonious hero Sir Thomas or not - in fact, I felt it might be a blessing if they did. I actually gave up two thirds of the way through - life's too short to persevere with bad books. Admittedly I have read much worse, but from an author of Simon Scarrow's undoubted ability this is a bit of a shocker in my opinion. Perhaps, as has been suggested elsewhere, this was a rush job, aimed at catching the Christmas market. For a decent read about the Great Siege of Malta I'd suggest instead Tim Willocks' "The Religion" or Dorothy Dunnett's "Disorderly Knights".
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Much inferior to his Cato books, November 24, 2012
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This review is from: Sword and Scimitar (Hardcover)
Like most other people, I came to Simon Scarrow's work through his 11 book Cato series; the first 8 books were excellent, well written, well researched and full of action. I found the last 3 and his Revolution series readable, but no more. His new book is set around the 1565 Ottoman Siege of Malta - then held by the Military Order of Knights of St John.

The story opens with the events leading to the expulsion from the Order of the hero, Sir Thomas Barrett (a knight from Henry VIII's England). Many years later during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the then Master of the Order, Jean de la Valette, recalls all knights - including Sir Thomas Barrett then living in England - to the colours to face an impending Ottoman attack. At this point the author introduces a McGuffin in the form of a mysterious document hidden on Malta. The knight is tasked by Lord Cecil and Queen Elizabeth's spymaster, Sir Francis Walsingham, to recover it. He's not told what the document is but assured that it could cause civil war in England. And so the story proceeds (slowly) as the hero goes through Spain to Malta and into the siege, the finding of the McGuffin and, later, the climax of the story. When the author revealed exactly what the mysterious document was, I found it anticlimactic because I expected something at least as powerful as Pope Pius V's 1570 bull _Regnans in Excelsis_ which was an exhortation to Elizabeth I's subjects to murder her.

The main problem I found with the book was that there was no real tension because the author seemed to assume that his readers wouldn't know that the Ottomans were defeated and I couldn't work up much interest in the fate or lovelife of the hero. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad book but it's not a great one either.

This very expensive (for Kindle) book is best described as "the sort of book you should borrow, not buy". In short: if you can't borrow it, don't buy it because it's not worth $17. Ernle Bradford's nonfiction book, The Great Siege: Malta 1565 is twice as exciting at half the price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A secular humanist at the Great Siege, August 12, 2014
By 
Ray E Garner III (Pennsylvania, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sword and Scimitar (Paperback)
I will start by saying there are good things about this book. The writing style is very entertaining and the battle scenes are excellent, all of which is par for the course for Mr. Scarrow. That is where the praise ends for me on this one though. My major issue with it was that I feel like his main reason for writing it was to espouse some sort of "religion is the cause of all evils" agenda, something which I find all too common among modern novelists writing about the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. The main character seemed out of place and much more like a modern secular humanist rather than a former knight of St. John in the 16th century. That plus the general "look at what religion caused" tone throughout this book really took away from it for me. It is important to remember that while difference in religion certainly did play a large role in the titanic clash between Christendom and the Muslim Ottoman Empire, it would be entirely unfair to say that it was only religious motives which drove the combatants. Politics and the struggle for more land and power were just as important in shaping that conflict as religion (many of Suleiman's opponents during this period where other Muslims) and I honestly don't believe that there would have been all that much less violence if religion were taken out of the equation. Anyway, this novel was certainly enjoyable in some ways, but it ultimately just didn't convince me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another good read and interesting history, February 1, 2014
By 
B. Dench (Poland, Maine USA) - See all my reviews
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Mr. Scarrow is a very good writer of historical fiction. I like the Roman legion stories better and the religious skepticism in this book became annoying, but this is a good read on a compelling historical foundation.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bringing History to Life, June 29, 2013
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This review is from: Sword and Scimitar (Hardcover)
This epic tale starts with a sea battle in the Mediterranean between the Christian Knights of St. John and the Muslims of the Ottoman Empire, this sets the scene for what is to come later. On one of the captured ships, Sir Thomas Barrett discovers a woman who has been kidnapped and thus begins his downfall as they start a doomed affair which goes against everything the Knights stand for.

When they are discovered Sir Thomas is banished from Malta and so begins 20 years of fighting as a mercenary in Europe not knowing what has happened to the love of his life Maria.

When he is summoned back to Malta to help the Knights defend Christendom and Malta against Sultan Suleiman and the Turks he is determined to find out what has happened to Maria once and for all.

With the added mystery of being told to retrieve a lost document in Malta that if made public could tear England apart, an accompanying squire who is not what he seems, bloody battle scenes, being outnumbered 7 to 1 by the Turks, romance, treachery, revenge.....this is not a book for the faint-hearted though it is a very good read!

Sir Thomas is the kind of man who you would want at your side in a battle, he's strong, courageous and skilled at arms. He's also a good person who is utterly trustworthy and I was really rooting for him.

This is a historical tale of the Great Siege of Malta, something of which I knew nothing about, and the author really brings to life how brave the citizens of Malta, together with the Knights of St John, were in their fight against the might of the Ottoman Empire. Fascinating stuff.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Religion as a force for peace and love, May 6, 2013
By 
Sela Still "Old Bean" (Hampshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sword and Scimitar (Paperback)
Neither the cover nor the title are immediately appealling but open the book and start reading and you are immediately drawn into a splendid evocation of this crucial time in history. If Suleiman's forces manage to overwhelm the vulnerable garrison of Malta, Christianity may die out in the West and be replaced by the Muslim religion.

Sir Thomas Barrett, disgraced and expelled from the Order of the Knights of St John twenty years earlier, has been recalled at this crucial time and is accompanied by a young man, Richard, a spy in the pay of Walsingham. Although Richard is in Malta for a very different reason from Sir Thomas, he is inevitably drawn into the seige and the battles and proves a brave and intelligent fighter. The developing relationship between Richard and Sir Thomas is one of many intriguing sub-stories in this epic which has time to consider human friendship and human emnity and yet keep us in the heart of a dust-filled and desperate struggle which continued for many months.

Fanatacism, courage, blood, heat, dust, love - all here in 597 action-packed places.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dive in, September 7, 2013
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This review is from: Sword and Scimitar (Paperback)
I have enjoyed the authors Cato and Macro series.This is another well written piece of historical fiction.The development of the lead character Sir Thomas Barrette rivals the mastery accomplished in the previously mentioned Cato/Macro series.The historical period referenced is not popularly fictionalized,but captured my interest from the start.I encourage readers to branch out and dive in.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, July 9, 2014
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Very good read, with excellent research and story.
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3.0 out of 5 stars historical Malta, May 13, 2014
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Not as good as his many other works. Not that believable. Stumbles at times. The son by his lover does not come across well. The fact that he is required to kill his father and knowingly accepts the task shows some lack of understanding of human nature.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An evant in the fascinating history of the island of Malta, April 30, 2014
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Malta is an island that has a fascinating history and Scarrow's story concentrated on one event and brought it to life.
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Sword and Scimitar
Sword and Scimitar by Simon Scarrow (Hardcover - October 25, 2012)
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