The Religion by Tim Willocks is an astonishing novel.
It describes the siege of Malta in 1565 AD in gruesome and vivid detail and the author weaves his theme around power, religion, war, greed, fear, madness and absolute cruelty: faith, love, betrayal, obsession, friendship ‘to the end’ – such that you do not know which side to love or hate, which side to admire, which part to take, who is good, who is evil – or are all his characters simply human?
Whipped up by such forces, it is salutary to realise that any one of us could be all of the above or none, but no human can face such a terror and emerge intact, except by sheer folly or bonchance.
Tim Willocks is a fine writer. I would feel blessed indeed if I could write half so well. He can chill the soul:
“The duration of the Church’s war will be measured not in weeks, or even in years, but in millenia …”
as he describes the madness of fundamentalism, yet calm the soul as he describes the best of us alongside the worst of us.
I spent a wonderful holiday on Malta and I have stood in Valletta and looked out on the bay where the Ottoman armies flocked. The Churches are extraordinary, the island is magnificent, the people are amazing. Malta is a beautiful island with a vast history set in a bejewelled sea. I look forward to my return visit, and now I have read this splendid book, it will not be possible to take a single step without hearing words from this incredibly talented authour.