Angels In Iron

( 2 )

Overview

The year is A.D. 1565 and the tiny island fortress of Malta, defended by an anachronistic crusading order called the Knights of St. John Hospitallers, is all that stands between the war machine of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and the very heart of Christendom. Pitifully outmatched and against impossible odds, the indomitable Grand Master Jean Parisot de La Valette nevertheless inspires his knights to "strike a blow for Christ" and sacrifice their lives to halt the invading Turks at the gates of Europe. ...
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Overview

The year is A.D. 1565 and the tiny island fortress of Malta, defended by an anachronistic crusading order called the Knights of St. John Hospitallers, is all that stands between the war machine of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and the very heart of Christendom. Pitifully outmatched and against impossible odds, the indomitable Grand Master Jean Parisot de La Valette nevertheless inspires his knights to "strike a blow for Christ" and sacrifice their lives to halt the invading Turks at the gates of Europe. Nicholas Prata relates the actual events of the Great Siege in riveting and graphic prose which brings the extreme heroism of the knights and the horror of combat sharply into focus.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781889758565
  • Publisher: Arx Publishing
  • Publication date: 12/31/2009
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 587,261
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter Two.

Throne Room of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, winter 1565.


Dragut entered the modest observation room and Suleiman told the slaves to leave. The sultan looked up from his couch.

"Take your leisure," he nodded toward an unoccupied divan.

"The sultan is too kind," Dragut unhitched his sword and sank gratefully into the seat. He reached for the waiting sorbet and studied a bowl of fruit.

"They did not feed you?" Suleiman asked.

"Yes, Lawgiver, but at my age every morsel is welcome." Dragut's wrinkled face cracked into a smile. "One never knows when Allah shall request his presence in paradise."

Suleiman nodded. "So true, so true. I trust to most merciful God your craft was dry and the sailing smooth."

"The journey was uneventful, noble born majesty."

"Please!" Suleiman said. "Call me 'lord', and nothing else. Let's leave the flowery speech to men with more time and fewer thoughts."

Dragut smiled.

"Very well, lord."

Suleiman swallowed a handful of figs and burped loudly.

"Speaking of flowers, have you seen my gardens?" he inquired proudly.

"No, lord."

"Then you shall before you return to Africa."

The two old men ate in silence for a few moments. The sultan watched Dragut devour a cluster of grapes; the pirate seemed oblivious to the scrutiny. Suleiman spoke at last.

"Did you catch a glimpse of those seagoing dogs? Those Hospitalers?" he asked nonchalantly.

"Almighty God, no," Dragut laughed grimly.

Suleiman raised a bushy eyebrow. "Does even the 'drawn sword of Islam' fear those cross-bearing snakes?"

"Certainly, my lord. I take no enemy lightly. That way lies destruction."

"Very wise," Suleiman replied curtly. "Do I take my adversaries lightly?"

"My lord of East and West, how can you say such things?" Dragut affected shock. "You are Allah's instrument as I am yours."

Suleiman nodded.

"Since you broach the subject, however," Dragut plucked a grape, "I must tell you it grieves me that your goods get savaged by a handful of thieves in possession of a cursed rock unworthy of sea gull droppings."

Suleiman chuckled. "You too are a thief, my friend."

"No, perfect lord," Dragut corrected him, "I am your humble Corsair. I leave thievery to Christians."

"I see," Suleiman said.

"My lord, may I speak frankly?"

"Certainly. Of what?"

"Malta." The pirate drew breath and began a long-prepared speech. "My lord, until you have smoked out this nest of vipers you can do no good anywhere. Malta is weak, but its Master is strong and is an implacable enemy of the true faith."

Suleiman squinted in Dragut's direction.

"You know the Master of these Knights, don't you?" he recollected.

Dragut, who had made a pyramid of Christian skulls after conquering Tripoli, shuddered to recall the most painful moment of his life.

"I met him," he said.

Suleiman waited. Dragut resumed:

"I was captured by the Knights many years ago and consigned to the galleys. La Valette, the Master of Malta, was among those who captured me."

Suleiman looked genuinely dismayed, though it had been both his and Dragut's pleasure to condemn many thousands of men to the living death of the oars.

"An evil little man, I'll warrant."

"No, my lord," Dragut said. "He was tall as a Janissary and there was an air about him. I knew when he spoke he would be their master some day."

"What did he say?" the sultan was engrossed.

"He bowed and said, 'Monsieur Dragut--it is the custom of war.' I cannot help but believe his sympathy was sincere. He had once been sentenced to the oars himself."

"What was your reply?" Suleiman demanded.

"I answered 'And the change of Fortune.' Thank Allah I was soon liberated!" Dragut looked into the sultan's eyes. "He will continue making fish food of your sailors as long as Malta harbors his galleys."

Suleiman grimaced at the indictment, then protested:

"I expelled these Knights from Rhodes many years ago."

"And they have returned to haunt you, like a chancre."

Suleiman's stomach soured as it always did when he grew irritated. He suddenly wished to be alone.

"Leave me, for now," he commanded.

Dragut rose instantly and grabbed his sword.

"My lord," he said, bowing.

Suleiman's stomach worsened. He lay sleepless on the couch far into the night. Why had he left Malta unconquered? The island's fine ports, barely a day off the coast of Italy, were lances against Europe's underbelly.

My mind must be slipping, he thought, recalling both the capture of his chief eunuch and the kidnapping of his daughter's nurse by the Knights. Even the Imam of the great Mosque had reminded him that true believers languished in Hospitaler dungeons.

"It is only thy invincible sword," the Imam had said, "that can shatter the chains of the unfortunates whose wails rise to heaven!"

Suleiman felt arthritic pain course up his arms at the thought of the Knights.

Will you leave these Hospitalers unpunished when you go to paradise?

He massaged his pained hands, saying: "There is no question Dragut is right."

The sultan summoned Dragut in the morning. Dragut, wearing a confident expression, looked as though he had slept well though Suleiman's spies reported he had studied maps throughout the night.

"My lord?" he bowed.

"I must crush Malta!"

Dragut looked pleased. "Such a deed would make the Mediterranean your lake," he promised. "Many more difficult victories has your scimitar reaped. Malta is lightly manned and is not well fortified."

"And from Malta I will take Italy...and Rome." Suleiman's eyes blazed with purpose.

"That shall be my last, and greatest, task before I march triumphant into heaven!"

Only then did Dragut realize the depth of Suleiman's passion. Suleiman's appetite for conquest was whetted to a greater extent than in years.

"May I sit, my lord?" Dragut asked.

Suleiman nodded fiercely.

After a moment of reflection, Dragut admitted: "It may be done."

Suleiman stood. He felt vigor in his veins and a twinge in his loins; he considered a rare visit to his harem where he would drop his handkerchief beside the first woman who caught his fancy.

"I was twice turned away at Vienna but I shall take that pathetic rock Malta and press north to England! I feel in my bones it is Allah's will that Europe shall be won for the True Faith." Suleiman prepared to attend the seraglio but Dragut's voice brought him up short.

"We must conquer the Knights first, my lord."

Suleiman spat on the floor, saying:

"As for those sons of dogs, whom I have already conquered and who were spared only by my clemency at Rhodes--I say now that, for their continual raids and insults, they shall be crushed and completely destroyed!"

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 4, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    If you love the days of Iron Men and their swords and axes this book is for you. It is historically based on one of the 3 battles that turned the Islamic advancement on Europe.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2005

    Great book for boys!

    If you loved the Lord of the Rings and are looking for more books about noble warriors, this book is for you. Full of non-stop action, it's perfect for the kids who spend hours playing role-playing and battle games. This story is no myth. It actually hapened. The image of the mortally wounded knights sitting in chairs to fight because they are too weak to stand is astonishing. This is a tale of completely unselfish service and valor. It is especially timely because of the renewed battling today in the Middle East. An eye-opener for history-starved kids who yearn to hear tales of great deeds.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2000

    Impeccably researched historical action

    If you're in the mood for gripping epic action, look no further---Nick Prata serves up a blistering account of the Seige of Malta, in which a handful of Christendom's best held off a huge Turkish invasion fleet and saved Western Europe. Mr. Prata has really done his homework, and it shows on every page---excellent nuts-and-bolts detail. Highly recommended.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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