three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
11-July-Aug-2004
By: 
David Ball
user_rating: 
0

A Novel of the Knights of Malta and the Last Battle of the Crusades

A-IronfireChristian Nico Borg is captured from his Malta home by Algerian slavers and taken to North Africa while his sister Maria remains behind, broken hearted. This vast historical novel follows the divergent paths the siblings take over the next 20 years. Somehow, after several rip-roaring adventures that include an Islamic conversion, showdowns with an Inquisitor, and a journey to the Sultan’s court, they both end up playing key roles in the Ottoman Empire’s relentless 1565 assault on the island of Malta.
Delacorte. 688 pages. $24.95.

Rocky Mountain News 4 of 5 Stars
"…this tale is no milquetoast treatise on psycho-social conflict. Filled with villains and heroes, knights and battles, monks and harems, sultans and slaves, Ironfire has all the ingredients of a juicy adventure." Eric J. Blommel

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 3.5 of 5 Stars
"…an action-packed, often erotic and always sensual epic-adventure around a handful of well-developed characters swept up in the maelstrom of 16th-century holy wars between two different worlds." Ron Franscell

Plain Dealer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"… [A] sweeping novel of adventure, war, treachery and love. … Ball proves himself a master storyteller, his richly detailed literary canvas bringing to life an age of religious fanaticism and conflict." Donna Marchetti

Seattle Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Ball’s solid historical research not only illuminates the political realities of the 16th century, it lends perspective to present-day incarnations of the same feud. … [He] shows us history from multiple and opposing points of view." Deloris Tarzan Ament

Critical Summary

The reviewers loved Ball’s second historical epic (after Empires of Sand, about French imperialism). He conjures an amazing canvas of 16th-century Mediterranean sights, sounds, and smells. The climactic siege of Malta—which lasted for four months and which fills a quarter of this novel—is precise, brutal, and action-packed. Want romance with your adventure? Ball delivers there as well. "Merely developing three-dimensional characters in modern publishing is a rare notion," writes the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; "sustaining a reader’s interest in them over nearly 700 pages is hard to do." With Ironfire, which has current relevance as well, Ball delivers the impossible with laudable flair.