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Sword and Scimitar Hardcover – October 25, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

[T]his lively, absorbing novel will not disappoint Sunday Times

About the Author

Simon Scarrow is a Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author. His many successful books include his Eagles of the Empire novels featuring Roman soldiers Macro and Cato, most recently BRITANNIA, BROTHERS IN BLOOD, PRAETORIAN and THE LEGION, as well as HEARTS OF STONE, set in Greece during the Second World War, SWORD AND SCIMITAR, about the 1565 Siege of Malta, and a quartet about Wellington and Napoleon including the No. 1 Sunday Times bestseller THE FIELDS OF DEATH. He is the author with T. J. Andrews of the gladiator novel ARENA and the novellas in the INVADER series. Find out more at www.simonscarrow.co.uk and on Facebook /officialsimonscarrow and Twitter @SimonScarrow
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Book Publishing; 1St Edition edition (October 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755358368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755358366
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,086,566 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Like most of you I was going about life reading, eating, Jeep hunting, and patiently waiting on Simon Scarrow for the next Macro and Cato book. But this time out Simon gives us something else. I'm a history buff only in the sense that if I read it, it must be in fiction form.  Yeah, I don't like the non-fiction stuff because it ends up being way to dry. But if you take that same non-fiction, add a very good writer, literary license, and the ability to twist it into a story... then you've got me.

Simon's got me.

Because I read historical-fiction I knew about the Siege of Malta, but I haven't read anything that focused on it until this book. And I enjoyed this book as much as I have the Macro and Cato series. I've found that if a writer is a true writer it won't matter what they pen, it's going to be good. I can honestly say that if you have enjoyed Simon's other work then you will like this slight turn from the "ordinary".

`Sword and Scimitar's' main character is a knight names Sir Thomas. He's brave, smart, learned, honest, and loyal. Unfortunately like most men his, weakness rests within the heart and between thighs of a woman. The other unfortunate thing is that nature of man never changes. Ever. Jealously and hypocrisy are the catalyst for a decision that involves Sir Thomas and the repercussions of this last for two decades.

Meanwhile, while the Knights of the Order were playing whose king of the castle, the Ottoman Empire was making plans to basically annihilate them. The siege on Malta is known to be one of the bloodiest and most brutal in history.

The descriptions of that brutality are not hidden here.

As with all of Simon's books, there are stories behind the story behind the story.
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Format: 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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