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4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  758 ratings  ·  81 reviews
From the acclaimed author of Empires of Sand comes a mesmerizing new adventure that Jean Auel cites as “crowded with events that both forecast and mirror the conflicts of today.” Sweeping from the drawing rooms of Paris to the palace of Suleiman the Magnificent to the dark hold of a slave ship racing across the sea, here is a dazzling story of love and valor, innocence and ...more
Hardcover, 688 pages
Published December 30th 2003 by Delacorte Press (first published January 1st 2003)
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The Name of the Rose by Umberto EcoIronfire by David  BallKnights of the Black and White by Jack WhyteThe Road to Jerusalem by Jan GuillouStandard of Honor by Jack Whyte
The crusades-hisorical fiction
2nd out of 32 books — 24 voters
Lord of the Flies by William GoldingTreasure Island by Robert Louis StevensonAnne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasIsland of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Books Set on Islands
84th out of 388 books — 129 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,749)
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This is historical fiction at its finest. It's the book I wish I had written. David Ball does a fantastic job not only with his characters, but setting them in a world which feels at once intimately familiar and alien. He breathes life into the setting and into the events that surround this epochal moment in western history.

The characters, be they Maltese or Turkish, nobleman or slave, pirate or Hospitaller, are equally alive and complex. Be warned that Ball is brutal with his characters and pu
Matt Brady
In the middle of the 16th century, the battleground between Islam and Christianity waged throughout the Mediterranean narrows to a single point, the barren island of Malta, headquarters of the Knights Hospitaller. Having been driven from their bases on Rhodes and Tripoli, the Knights are determined to make their final stand, while the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, is bent on wiping them out.

That's what is promised on the back cover blurb anyway. But the actual attack on Malta doesn't
Excellent story, but it definitely reminded me that I'm grateful to live in my own time. 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. John - it's amazing! 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. I've ne ...more
Pixie Dust
I’d never heard of David Ball before I picked up this book solely on the strength of its title, cover design and blurb. And the fact that it was going at a great discount at a book sale. But after reading it, I’m 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 562 ratings. I can only conclude that the book suffered from a lack of zeal on the part of Ball’s publicist, for it is truly one of the m ...more
Jan 18, 2011 MD rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction
What I liked: Good plotting, generally page-turner pace. Lots of interesting historical detail. Good characters. I didn't know how it would end (not an era I've read much on).

What I didn't like: I'm generally not a big fan of books in which characters recognize their eternal soul mates before a word is spoken. This book did that not once, but twice. The title is terrible. I think the book probably spends more pages telling about being an Ottoman warrior than on being a "Knight of Malta" and if
Helen Strobridge
Continuing my theme of reading books based in Malta whilst spending the winter there, this is a long story tracing the lives of a Maltese brother & sister in the 16th century. The brother is captured by corsairs as a child and ends up growing up in the Sultan's court in Istanbul, whilst his sister grows up in Malta. This results in them being on opposite sides of the famous Turkish siege of Malta in 1565.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Despite its length, the story moves along quickly, keepi
Ένα από τα πιο αγαπημένα μου βιβλία....
Παρά τις τόσες σελίδες του,δε γίνεται στιγμή βαρετό,καθώς τα ιστορικά γεγονότα που αφθονούν,δένουν άψογα με τη ροή της υπόθεσης του βιβλίου.
Γίνονται εκτενείς αναφορές στη ζωή των κουρσάρων και των σκλάβων τους,δίνονται πληροφορίες που εντυπωσιάζουν για τις χειρουργικές και ιατρικές μεθόδους του 16 αι.,για τη ζωή στο Τοπ Καπί και τις συνήθειες του Σουλεϊμάν,του επιφανέστερου όλων των σουλτανων της Οθωμανικης αυτοκρατορίας(χαρακτηριστικά λέγεται οτι απ'όπου α
Devin Wallace
The level of research that went into this book is astounding. It can plainly be seen by the descriptive nature in which David Ball, the author, presents the scenes to you. It combines a factual account of a siege with several character journeys, all taking different paths yet each one as exciting as the next. The page count is not a hinderance, but instead a promise that the hundreds and hundreds of pages are needed to contain all the energy and excitement from the novel.
In my opinion, easily one of the best fictional stories centred around the great siege of Malta. Being Maltese myself it was a wonderful insight into that very significant part of our history! I shall never look at the Valletta and Birgu bastions without imagining all that action every again! Excellent read.
This book was far from being a good historic novel. It was an ok love story but nothing more. The plot was somewhat predictable and I did not get attached with the characters so much.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a love story with small fractions of history but not to a person who loves reading historical fiction books. It kind of missed to offer an in depth historic background and facts that would intrigue me to go on combined with the story.
Moreover, the Greek versi
Jenna Anderson
Like a few other reviewers, I had no particular drive to find and read this book: I went to the library intending to get an epic historical fiction, and wandered the shelves til this came up. I had never heard of it.

Ball wrote right in to the darkness of this story, but also gave enough hope that the victories that came could be appreciated. You could feel the barrenness of Malta, the sensuous heat of the Ottoman empire, and wallow in the stench of the slave ships. For only the experience of kno
Beautiful historical fiction set around the great siege of Malta (1565). Must read for any history buffs and mildly curious, the siege is considered a turning point in the Ottoman advance on Europe.
Picked up this book because it was so highly recommended on Goodreads, and I'm a fan of the Siege of Malta... (largely because of Tim Willocks' book The Religion, which is SO GOOD!)...

I listened to 75% of this (Guidall narrator, monotone of excitement) and read about 25%. For me, everything up until the Siege, which starts 80% of the way in, was tedious. The love stories of both Maria and Nico were trite. Nico's education in Topkapi was also not particularly interesting - though I did enjoy his
It would be an understatement to say that I was wholly swept up and absorbed by Ironfire. Thinking I was about to engage in a little light reading on Malta before I visit, I found myself engulfed in epic sagas of empires, dynasties and families. The perfect balance of hope, yearning, brutality, romance and mystery keep you reading for 'just one more page' long after bedtime, and upon waking your first thoughts are of the book, you know it's a winner. Soon I'll be in Malta itself, with a unique a ...more
Compelling, heart wrenching, incredibly well researched...historical fiction at its finest. David Ball breathes life into his characters with a skill few writers possess. The story of a poverty stricken brother and sister on the poor island of Malta who are separated when corsairs capture the 8 year old boy and sell him into slavery. The stories of each character unfold during the the years before, during, and after the siege battle of Malta's Order of St. John vs Ottoman ruler Suleiman the Magn ...more
A brilliant, page turning read. From the island of Malta to Algiers to Constantinople and back to the siege of Malta by the Ottoman Empire, the book follows the lives of two children Maria and Nico. It starts with the kidnapping of Nico by pirates where he is taken to be sold as a slave in Algiers. The descriptions of what he goes through are vivid (not for the faint hearted). Nico is an exceptional child as he has the talent of remembering everything he has heard. He eventually escapes slavery ...more
Althea Ann
"A Novel of the Knights of Malta and the Last Battle of the Crusades"

I previously read David Ball's other historical novel, "Empires of Sand" and really liked it, so I had high expectations for this book - which it fully lived up to.
It's a big, long book with a great (in my opinion) mix of sensationalism and good research. Yes, I like to find out my historical facts while being entertained by copious violence, enslavement, piracy, rape, revenge, betrayal, battles, and of course love-that-conquer
This monster of a historical fiction epic covers the lives of four fictional characters as they are swept up in the events that led to a major battle in the Mediterranean during Suleiman's reign. I found the primary characters interesting at first and certainly the story spread out across the Mediterranean right from the start. What was disappointing was that there was so much ground to cover, and consequently some things were glossed over quickly while others were drawn out considerably more. A ...more
I really enjoyed this novel - the story, the historical details, the characters, the ideas. It tells the story of the seige of Malta from both perspectives, and in doing so, raises questions about 'Holy' wars and the violence committed in the name of religion - a theme as relevant today as it was in the time of the crusades . . . .

Two things that I found really disconcerting though, (to say nothing of downright irritating!) were the liberties David Ball took with place names etc. (which he hims
Christopher Miller
My favorite genre is the well-researched historical novel that gives readers a detailed, rich vision of real events and real people who were involved in them. After exhausting such authors as Thomas Costain, Samuel Shellabrger, Maurice Druon, Jean Plaidy, Mika Waltari,Lawrence Schoonover, Graham Shelby, Zoe Oldenbourg and their like it has been a long time since I've discovered any as outstanding as Colleen McCullough's Rome/Caesar novels.

David Ball has written an enthralling story of a brother

In 1565, the Ottoman launched an attack on the tiny island of Malta. It was a battle whose outcome could have changed our current religious landscape tremendously ... and not currently well-known. Why can't someone look into creating a movie for this courageous, riveting conflict?

During this time Elizabeth I was wrestling with Spain, Mary, Queen of Scots, and even Grace O'Malley .... and this part of history is relatively well-documented. The islands of England were the center of our attention .
Apr 12, 2007 Cathy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Norah, Cami, Meg, Shaila
Ironfire is definitely an "Epic Novel of Love and War"! The historical fiction book set in the 16th century starts out with the characters, Maria and Nico. They are sister and brother who live on the island of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea. While the children were playing one day, Nico is kidnapped by North African corsairs that have come to the island. Nico is taken away to live a life of lies (it is his only way to survive) in the lands and countries that are Muslim. Nico had been raised as ...more
Ryan Rauber
I listened to the audiobook version of this, expecting an epic story of the siege of Malta by Ottoman Turks in the 16th century. The book was 30 hours, and the siege didn't begin until the 23rd hour. WAY too much backstory here. This book could easily have been cut in half. There were 3 principals, Nico and his sister Maria from Malta, and Christien de Vries. Nico is abducted at an early age and becomes a slave, then travels to Istanbul and becomes a Muslim under the care of the Sultan. Maria is ...more
Shannon Beaman
Really could have used a sequel or been written as an opus outright as it nears so to begin with. I thoroughly enjoyed the character development. Would have been a solid 5 star book if it weren't ended so abruptly. Don't get me wrong some stories should be left that way for the reader but in this case so much is lost with chopping the end off.
Mark Frieze
Great book and story. One of my favorites. Interesting characters against the backdrop of a incredible battle between Islam and Christians on the island of Malta.
Possibly been spoilt by reading better examples of the Ottoman invasion of Malta.

This was so-so; interesting but not outstanding.
Not quite what I expected, this novel is less about the siege itself but more a historical epic of the mid 16th century with several coming of age stories, romance, epic adventure and much more; a page turner and a fast read despite its size, the only complaint I have is that I really want to read the story of *** and *** implied at the end by the chronicler

Highly, highly recommended, let's hope that Mr. Ball's apparition in the high-visibility Warriors anthology implies a new novel will be s
May 31, 2007 Tom rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone that likes historical fiction.
Set in the 16th century Ottoman Empire. A young girl and her younger brother are seperated when he is kidnapped by Turkish slavers. Their lives go different directions until they meet again at the book's climax - the 1565 seige of Malta.

I bought this in Malta, which may have skewed my view a little since it starts and ends in Malta. A great story line with a lot of honesty. The story doesn't capitalize on every cliche and hook, but rather progresses more like could probably be expected in its ti
Well-researched in terms of historical facts relating to events and battles, but lacks understanding of the social history of that era. Despite being action-packed, it still made me roll my eyes several times as it tries to play out the dynamics of modern love stories in a setting that is dictated by Catholic mores in the 1500s. Good if you need a distraction....Could have done less with the battle descriptions unless a movie producer ever plans on using that level of detail.
Gary Brooks
Nov 23, 2013 Gary Brooks rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All
Recommended to Gary by: Discovered myself
This book is very well researched. the characterization is excellent. covers the vast tapestry of histories of north Africa, Meditteranean and Ottoman theaters. the indomitable spirits of Maria and Nico shine throughout all the chapters. the ability of humans to redeem themselves is reflected in each chapter in different scales and backgrounds and foregrounds. the description of the siege conditions is meticulously detailed and creates a "you are there atmosphere".
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David Ball has been to 60 countries on six continents. He has lived and worked in various parts of Africa. In the course of researching his novel Empires of Sand, he crossed the Sahara desert four times, and got lost there only once. Research trips for other novels have taken him to China, Istanbul, Algeria, and Malta - a little island where so far he hasn't gotten lost at all.

A former pilot, sarc
More about David Ball...
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