Real Readers Round-up: Sword & Scimitar, by Simon Scarrow

Article published on June 26, 2013.

This is the tale of one of those knights.

Banished from Malta after a dark episode that left him disgraced and heartbroken, Sir Thomas Barrett has fought for twenty years as a mercenary. He is haunted by the memories of the events that led to his exile.

Now Malta is threatened by a vast Ottoman army and the Knights need every man that can wield a sword – including Sir Thomas. With nothing to lose, he is willing to fight. But Malta holds perilous secrets that threaten even the reign of Queen Elizabeth of England. Only through great courage and perseverance can Thomas restore his faith in his country, his comrades and his love.

From the author whose powerful historical novels have topped the bestseller lists comes the definitive story of the Great Siege of Malta. And the epic tale of a brave band of brothers sworn to give their lives for what they believe in.

Nudge’s Real Readers give their verdict on Simon Scarrow’s standalone tale of the Siege of Malta. So what’s the verdict? Well lots of Readers hadn’t heard about the siege before. Carole Colbertwas typical:

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.

We were asked to send copies of this book to readers who might not typically read historical fiction with a military aspect. Glenda Worth was one such reader:

This book was picked up with some trepidation as I am outside my comfort zone. However I soon found myself engrossed in the story of Sir Thomas Barratt as he takes up the task of returning to Malta to fight. The research has been done well and as the novel unfolds a love story emerges alongside the brutality and bloodcurdling scenes of war. A worthwhile read and I shall be looking for more of Simon Scarrow’s books!

Cherly Reynolds said:

I had not had the pleasure of reading a Simon Scarrow novel before. This was a truly excellent read which takes you straight to the heart of the battle. As well as a great story line for the main character there is plenty of action and suspense. A must read for fans of Sean Thomas Russell and Bernard Cornwell.

Sue Packer also enjoyed being taken out of her comfort zone:

Sword and Scimitar is not normally the sort of book that I would chose to read. I’ve always thought of Simon Scarrow to be more of a man’s choice of author so this is the first book of his I’ve read. Although I haven’t altered my opinion of Mr Scarrow’s target market I found myself – a middle aged woman – quite enjoying this book!

His descriptions of the numerous battle scenes took the reader into the heart of the engagements and were obviously well researched and incredibly detailed. Not really my cup of tea to be honest but I could appreciate the need for the inclusion of these scenes and the imaginative way it was handled.

We’ll give the final word to Annabel Craig, who invents a new term for this particular sub-genre that’s at least as good and ‘swords and sandals’:

To my surprise, I enjoyed this ‘males in mail’ romp. It was less cliche-ridden than I had anticipated; there was a balance between the action scenes and the more thoughtful, slower paced conversations and reflective scenes. There was some romance amongst the slaughter; a thread that held my interest, along with the slight mystery surrounding Richard the ‘squire’.

If you like Ken Follet; you’ll love this; if you like Phillipa Gregory, give this a try. It was interesting to read a novel such as this from a male perspective, with more action on the battlefield than in the bedroom. A good choice for a holiday read, particularly somewhere like Malta, where most of this is set, or as an antidote against the vagaries of the British weather, curling up against the elements; pure escapist enjoyment.


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