Starred Review.Willocks, a novelist (Bad City Blues) and screenwriter (Sin), strikes gold with this epic account of the Turkish siege of Malta in 1565—the first of a planned trilogy featuring Mattias Tannhauser, the son of a Saxon blacksmith. Young Tannhauser is kidnapped by Muslim raiders and trained as a holy warrior before winning his release and settling in Sicily, where he becomes a prosperous arms dealer. His comfortable life is interrupted by the arrival of Contessa Carla La Penautier, a young widow who uses her considerable charms (and title) to recruit Tannhauser to help her find Orlandu, the bastard son she was forced to abandon at birth 12 years earlier. Arriving on Malta, where Carla believes her son is, Tannhauser and Carla get caught in the Turkish attack on the Christian enclave. Meanwhile, Orlandu's father, Ludovico Ludovici, a monk and feared inquisitor, has returned to Malta with hopes of bringing Malta under papal control. Tannhauser has to find Orlandu, unmask the scheming and unscrupulous Ludovici, survive vicious combat against the Turks, win Carla's heart and find a way to escape the "island of fanatics and fools." In Tannhauser, Willocks has created a dazzling hero whose debut will leave readers eager for the next installment.(May)
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