The Religion – Audio CD Review

The Religion: a novel

by Tim Willocks
Read by Simon Vance

Reviewed by Paul McMahon
A book on CD — lots of them, 21 in fact.

There are so many good things about this book I hardly know where to begin, but begin I must.

Let’s start with the reader — Simon Vance.  Simon’s reading enhances the book.  He gives characters voices.  He adds shades of emotion.  He keeps you listening.  There were many times where I sat in the parking lot or my driveway waiting for the scene  to end.

Then there is the author — Tim Willocks.  I never heard of him, but I know I will hear more about him after this book.  His descriptions of the details of the battlefield are the best I have ever read.  You might say worst in his literal description of the blood and guts resulting from the hand-to-hand hacking that took place as hundreds of Christians fought off thousands of Muslims in a battle that was expected to run for a few days and went on for months.

Then  there are the characters — Carla, the mother looking for the son she was forced to give up at his birth 14 years ago.  Orlando, her son, whom she came to Malta at the eve of the war to find.  Mateus Tannhouser — the soldier of fortune who brought her to Malta when everyone else would not.  Amparo — Carla’s companion who became Mateus’ lover.  Lodovico — the Inquisitor who was Orlando’s father who came to Malta to eliminate Orlando and possibly Carla  to erase the one stain on his vow of celibacy and also incidentally to eliminate one of the candidates to replace the Pope who was scheduled to conveniently die.

Those are just the Christians.  There is the Muslim General who adopted Tannhauser as a boy and brought him up as a Muslim giving Mateus the ability to go from side to side as the need arose.  There are many more Muslims whose names I cannot remember.

Then there is the story.  It is set in May of 1565.  The Ottoman Empire was at its peak although no one realized it.  Suleiman the Magnificent was emperor.  He declares a jihad (we have a feeling for that) against the Knights of Saint John the Baptist (Which calls itself The Religion) which was a religious order made up of many Knights who fought fierce battles defending Christianity.  There are some in the Vatican who would like to see the Knights become subservient to Rome.  The Knights are established in Malta and are bringing their brethren to Malta for the anticipated final war against the Muslims.  A war which is incredibly cruel.

Willocks describes the hatred on both sides which drives the war — a hatred that we see in current conflicts.  As you listen ask yourself if this kind of hate could make World War III a religious war driven by people who want the power over  the earth.

Good news – this book is the first book of The Tannhauser Trilogy.

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