The Religion  (Tannhauser Trilogy, #1)
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The Religion (Tannhauser Trilogy #1)

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  1,392 ratings  ·  260 reviews
2007 Sarah Crichton Books (Farrar Straus Giroux) HB, 1st American Edition, 2nd printing. Historical novel by Tim Willocks (Bad City Blues, Green River Rising). Suleiman the Magnificent declares a jihad against the Knights of St. John the Baptist of Malta, also known as "The Religion." Lush historical details collide with military mayhem. The fist book of the Tannhauser tri...more
Hardcover, 640 pages
Published May 15th 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2006)
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I guess The Religion is a good's cryptic and kinda ominous sounding and does have a connection to the actual contents of the story. Despite that, I think that Fucking, Killing & Shitting: Malta 1565 might be a bit more appropriate here. While I can certainly agree all three of those things are an unavoidable part of life and can be an enjoyable part of fiction, I really don't think that's what Mr. Willocks was intending for me to see as the identity of his story--but that's what I...more
Despite it’s flaws, The Religion is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read.

Malta, 1565. The Turks have laid siege to Malta, slowly but steadily conquering the island from Christian control. A noblewoman mourns for the bastard son of a priest she abandoned at youth, who she knows to be trapped on Malta. Enter Mattias Tannhauser, a former jannisary who now makes his own way in the world as a merchant of alternative routes, if you catch my drift. The Lady Carla makes a deal with T...more
Karla (Mossy Love Grotto)
I hated this book. I love violence and don't mind sex in my fiction, but this book was absolutely wretched, despite having those two ingredients. The main fault, I think, was the hero. He was too perfect and was therefore absolutely obnoxious. He knows how everything should be defended, he is looked to grudgingly for his experience in the Muslim world, he turns the loins of women to water and the hearts to men to envy. And unfortunately there are precious few scenes where he doesn't suck out the...more
Bryn Hammond
From the sublime to the ridiculous. But I figure the sublime earns four stars, without taint from ridiculous content. You don't get sublime often, do you?

Has a big dose of swashbuckler. When the swashbuckler’s in the cockpit this isn’t ‘real-feel’ historical, because Mattias Tannhauser has been everywhere, can do everything. I was comfortable with that, I’ve swashbuckled of old, the secret is don’t try too hard to believe.

It’s more realistic when it comes to the war, and most of the book is war...more
I am torn between giving four stars and five. The language and vocabulary are exquisite. It is only the incessant warring that makes one weary in the reading. The slaying and butchery would have been more striking had it not gone on and on and on and on.
The book relates the true tale of how the island of Malta (the stronghold of the Christian Knights who call themselves "The Religion") was besieged by the Ottoman hordes. The fictitious tale that runs parallel with this battle is about a man, Mat...more
David  Farlin
This is the first book I've read in years that I felt was NOT written at a 6th grade level. Willocks' writing is like reading poetry. Even though in this particular book the "poetry" is about knights hacking each other to death on mounds of dead bodies. I felt like I was reading a book written at an adult level. No, not smutty, just smart and intelligent.

I'm not putting much here regarding the subject or plot other than the Knights I've mentioned. But if you like stories about Knights Templar A...more
Sep 09, 2007 Ned rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical novel junkies
This one is a bit too long but to tell you the truth I could not put it down. An ex-Janissary and adventurer takes up the challenge of finding a beautiful Maltese countess's illegitimate son on Malta just as the Ottomans begin their legendary siege of the Mediterranean island and commence a titanic struggle with the ruthless Knights of St. John. The battle scenes are so sickening that they must be true to life, and the intrigues involving the inquisitions, the Ottomans, the knights of St. John a...more
My Inner Shelf
Je n’avais rien lu des polars de Willocks avant de m’attaquer à ce pavé de plus de 800 pages. Ce titre me faisait envie depuis longtemps, et il a comblé mes plus folles espérances.
C’est mirifique, épique, grandiose, sanglant, cruel, dégueulasse, violent, puant, chatoyant, apocalyptique, véhément, échevelé, passionné, trépidant, viril, sensuel, sexuel, animal, tendre, sauvage, poétique, tumultueux, puissant, cinématographique, hypnotisant, envoûtant, obsédant, émouvant.
C’est énorme.
I was really disappointed with this book. It's essentially a Harlequin romance with a heavy dose of graphic violence. Willocks is clearly a very bright man, but his writing is schmaltzy, to say the least. Try this on for size:

[Tannhauser compliments Carla]
Carla felt her cheeks burn. She felt inadequate to the compliment and to acknowledge it seemed improper. A sense of sin clenched inside her. Such fears and doubts had hedged her life for as long as she could remember. Yet in the...more
It's been a long time since I read an historical novel that was truly a "page turner" -- but once I got into this story I hated to put it down.

As is always the case for me, the heart of the appeal of the story lies with the characters, and I enjoyed spending time with all the protagonists. Equally importantly, the primary villain was compelling: both frightening and just a bit tragic. The conflicting cultures of Christian Knights of St. John ("the Hospitallers") and the armies of Islam were bot...more
Kat Kiddles
Well...this one was a bit of a tough read. That's not to say that I didn't learn from it, but it was an intense study.

Here's an excerpt from the review at The Uncustomary Book Review:

"The putrid smell emanating from within the bowels of the train’s bathroom stall just a few feet away from me is a fitting accompaniment to the vile imagery I’m exposing myself to on this Tuesday-morning commute. What mind-space did the author have to be in to write such grotesque scenes? I don’t want to know, but t...more
I was given this book by my father, who had it from his father, while I was (interestingly enough) in rehab. I wasn't that thrilled at the premise, but by the time I had finished the prologue I was very invested. I loved the book. Not all of it, but enough of it to validate my giving it the five stars I think it earned. I noticed the complete lack of gloss on anything, the realism of humanity in all of its faults and failings, but also the way that it didn't try to hide that people are beautiful...more
James D.
This book was truly one of the most captivating novels I've ever read! Willocks develops his characters with great detail, and in that detail you begin to live through them as the story unravels. The battles have you feeling exhausted, the treachery has you wrathful, and the suspense is breathtaking. This is not an easy read, and it requires some patience as you get a feel for how Willocks writes and the vocabulary with which he is working. This is not a light read, rather a rich, chewy journey...more
Incredible story about the Siege of Malta. I got more insight into life during the 1400's and the struggle between the Ottomas and Europeans. I'm curious to visit Malta now. I had always wondered about the Knights Templar. They used to have a mystique about them in my eyes. Now I get them in the everyday sense of an organization of Christian Aristocrats with a thirst for war. Whenever I get the everyday sense of an event in history I always feel more in touch with it.
Louise Roberts
This is one of the best books I have ever read. I enjoyed it so much I have re-read it four times.

Tim Willocks has thoroughly researched his material thus drawing the reader into his story to the extent that one feels as though actually present within the pages. I found myself visualising the hero - Mattias Tannhauser - and was with him during the epic siege of Malta. And when he was with his lover I felt an intruder during their intimate moments. But I found I was too drawn to the delicateness...more
Another best selling author has referred to this book as "one of the best historical novels of all time" and I would have to agree. The intricate weaving of real history and real historical characters with fiction is so real that as you read, you can see it all happening in your mind. Willocks does not at all hold back in describing some of the unspoken horrors of war, and this might affect those who are squeamish, and while some have criticized him for it, others have praised him. The backgroun...more
Alexander Rice
There are precious few good books about the Siege of Malta, fewer fictions about it. The author, Willocks, is well qualified and a masterful author, his prose is beautiful and reads almost like poetry. The detail is amazing, very real. Sights, sounds, smells, I felt really immersed in the world Willocks brings to life. It's so real in fact that it can be sickening at times, the violence and sex are alive in such graphic detail that it was a bit too much for me personally.

The story is pretty well...more
Dec 02, 2008 Mandy added it
Shelves: cannot-finish
I cannot describe how I felt about this book. As anyone who knows me can tell you, I don't usually put a book down. I will stick it out to whatever end it brings, horrifying or otherwise, as I am an avid believer in redemption, whether of the author or character(s), and I understand that characters do not always reflect the nature of the author. After all, writing (in my case, anyway) can often be a form of escape, or assuming an identity opposite of reality. In the case of The Religion, however...more
Mack Bolan goes to Malta.

Historical fiction has a tough challenge: weave a narrative into history that has already been written. You can't flirt with changing history, because your audience will know what must happen.

Tim Willocks takes a slice of history that is outside of the modern zeitgeist - the siege of Malta in 1565. This allows him to be a guide to the dramatic ebb and flow of the battle. Good historical novels educate as well as entertain.

Willocks in unflinching in his descriptions of th...more
Apr 29, 2008 K rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mel gibson fans, davinci code people?
Have just started disc 1 of this 21 disc audiobook. I could see this not working out. The longest audiobook I've previously listened to was 10 discs, and that took forever! This one's started out promisingly enough, though, with the most violent opening scenes I have ever read/heard. It's like the climaxes of five Gibson movies compressed into five minutes.

Okay, done:
The parallels to Mel Gibson movies carry out the whole way through. Ridiculous amounts of violence, lusty swiving, stupid stereo...more
This was most interesting as to the time period -- 16th century -- Knights of St. John [Hospitallers] enduring the siege by the Ottoman Turks under Suleiman the Magnificent on the Island of Malta. Enter our protagonist, Mattias Tannhauser, the larger-than-life picaresque hero and soldier-of-fortune. As a former Janissary, Tannhauser can inflitrate the Turkish camp as necessary. The battle scenes were very good; however they were much too graphic in places -- too much mention of body parts and b...more
I saw a review of this book in the WSJ, and thought to myself: "why not". It's in the genre of historical fiction, of which I've become a BIG FAN - to wit - within the last three years I've read all 21 novels of the Patrick O'Brian series of 'Master and Commander', all of the Sharpe series, and am finishing the last of the 'Flashman' novels. This one was pretty good - set in the 1500's and featuring a hero named Mattias Tannhauser (sort of like Arnold???) who, by a quirk of fate, is both a Musli...more
Juanita Brown
Awesome... I have read this book twice.

The first time I was so excited to read a great book about the conflict between Christians and Muslims that I flew through it in a couple of days.

The second time I read it really slow and was just captivated by the detail and information. Took me quite awhile to finish as I reread a lot of the descriptions more than once.

I am TRULY sorry for the people that did not like this book........

Hopefully the next one in the Trilogy will be out soon.
I began reading this book because a friend wanted to share it with me and so I read it when I ran out of reading material. In the beginning of the book I had trouble getting into the story. Eventually the main characters of the book became more prevalent and so I was able to begin enjoying the story.

The story takes place in the middle ages wars between Christians and Muslims and The Inquisition. The main character of the book experiences both being Christian and Muslim and fights both sides at...more
Wow… This book belongs on the shelf next to the trashy romances. The writing was so cheese ball that you could spread it on a cracker. I never did finish this book. The 3rd person profanity was out of place, unnecessary, and really just a sign of a lazy writer. As was the first sex scene (the point at which I closed the book) which was pure porn, and probably just there to spur the reader on through the cheese to the next description of breasts.
Bookmarks Magazine

The first in a projected trilogy, The Religion stirred excitement in some critics and distaste in others. Tim Willocks writes with visual detail (he's a screenwriter), but he also appeals to the other senses, creating what the Chicago Sun-Times described as "a thick stew of smells, colors, and sounds." Some reviewers, however, criticized florid writing, shallow characters, and a clich_

Unrealized potential. A salacious and violent story which still manages to hit all the right politically correct notes. In a word: cynical. Not in world view, necessarily, but in gauging the audience. Kiss my ass, Tim.
Shawn Davies
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I'm always so sad when I have to rate a book with only two stars. Especially when that book starts off so beautifully! I seriously loved the very first paragraph:

"On the night the scarlet horseman took him away - from all he knew and all he might have known - the moon waxed full in Scorpio, sign of his birth, and as if by the hand of God its incandescence split the alpine valley sheer into that which was dark and that which was light, and the light lit the path of devils to his door. If the dogs...more
Angus Mcfarlane
I've been asking myself for a while, how much of a book do I need to have read to know it will be one I enjoy. In this one, I was quickly engaged (although it felt familiar, unfortunately) and this remained the case for the remainder of the book. Although the pace steadied, the characters and the plot remained intriguing, and I like to think I was gaining a picture of a period and place I've not knwon about before.
I liked the inter-play between the various religious positions - there was no shyi...more
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Single book vs. Series 2 6 Jun 25, 2014 01:45PM  
Are the Muslims and the Christians worshiping the same God? 5 19 Mar 06, 2014 06:29PM  
Favorite Character 2 21 Nov 22, 2013 08:32PM  
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British doctor and novelist.
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“Her eyes were of different colors, the left as brown as autumn, the right as gray as Atlantic wind. Both seemed alive with questions that would never be voiced, as if no words yet existed with which to frame them. She was nineteen years old, or thereabouts; her exact age was unknown. Her face was as fresh as an apple and as delicate as blossom, but a marked depression in the bones beneath her left eye gave her features a disturbing asymmetry. Her mouth never curved into a smile. God, it seemed, had withheld that possibility, as surely as from a blind man the power of sight. He had withheld much else. Amparo was touched—by genius, by madness, by the Devil, or by a conspiracy of all these and more. She took no sacraments and appeared incapable of prayer. She had a horror of clocks and mirrors. By her own account she spoke with Angels and could hear the thoughts of animals and trees. She was passionately kind to all living things. She was a beam of starlight trapped in flesh and awaiting only the moment when it would continue on its journey into forever.” (p.33)” 19 likes
“Sadness is never bad," said Amparo. "Sadness is the mirror of being happy” 9 likes
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