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And the fact that it was going at a great discount at a book sale. But after reading it, Im amazed that he and his spectacular account of the siege of Malta are not more famous.
A quick check in Goodreads revealed that the book garnered only ratings. This allowed him to negotiate the complexities of the political and religious history of the time in a way that gives the reader time to digest the complicated historical context slowly as the narrative progresses.
Throughout the book, I had dismissed him as simply a convenient narrative device for explaining the historical context. I was thus delighted when the historian revealed himself to be the child of Nico and Alisa in the endnote! I thought Ball weaker on relationships — especially the love affairs.
Then the siege of Malta began, and the book never got dull again. I find it more meaningful historically and symbolically, whereas the American title Ironfire just sounds like some run of the mill fantasy novel. I would not have dealt well with things in the days of the Knights. But it also made me want to learn all I can about the history of Malta. I even went to visit the Infirmary built by the Knights of St. It was large and clean and quite scientifically advanced, but in such a way that patients were separated from one another with private "facilities", yet in the same spacious hall.
Malta uses it now as a venue for concerts, feasts, etc. Such history is taken so much for granted here. And her brother Nico, as well. The characters were well developed and so interesting. The settings were realistic, too. Sometimes gruesome, often gory, but realistic. The Sultan was also a sympathetic character - far more sympathetic than the Knights, I thought.
The sophistication of the Ottoman Empire was so far beyond Europe, it makes one wonder how the Islamic world fell behind. The book is heartbreaqking, fascinating, captivating, but long. For a while I thought it would never go anywhere, but by the last chapter I found myself wishing the story could go on.
EL OTOMANO DAVID BALL PDF