Review

The Religion

by Tim Willocks

THE
RELIGION by Tim Willocks will give history buffs and literary
fiends alike something to cheer for this summer, as its epic
storytelling and masterfully plotted scenarios truly take one away
from the workaday world on waves of smart dialogue and sweeping
action.

In 1565 the Turks seized Malta, a Christian enclave. The son of a
Saxon blacksmith, one Martin Tannhauser, becomes an unwitting hero:
he not only gets kidnapped by Muslim raiders, who whisk him away to
Sicily, but once there he forges away from the family trade by
becoming a famous and very successful arms dealer. In the course of
this prosperousness, he moves in circles previously unbeknownst to
him and is courted and seduced by Contessa Carla La Penautier. This
young widow needs to find her long-lost abandoned bastard son, and
Tannhauser is recruited to do the detective legwork on that cold
case.

In the meantime, the lost boy's father, who happens to be a deadly
inquisitor monk, is in Malta because he soon wants Malta to be
under the political and religious auspices of the Papacy. He is a
nasty character, filled with vitriole --- a step above the nasty
papal fiefs in THE DA VINCI CODE --- and works it with a grace
becoming only a Tony Soprano-type (to use some contemporary
lore).

Tannhauser steps up to the plate and tries to win the trifecta:
find the missing child, take down his evil father and win Carla's
heart. Of course, since there is a war going on --- and this
seemingly is the first of several installments in which Tannhauser
will be a great hero --- he must wage Renaissance man battle with
fierce opponents and survive. Certainly, THE RELIGION offers him a
battlefield that has not been explored already ad nauseum
and an adventurous journey that will keep readers glued to every
one of the 600-plus pages.

Willocks is a novelist and screenwriter with a serious interest in
Shotokan karate (he is a First Dan black belt, which is a very
serious thing indeed). He co-founded a theater company that
performed Christopher Marlowe's JEW OF MALTA and claims that this
production is what led him to the Great Siege, and thus to THE
RELIGION. His screenwriting abilities are evident in his clear and
concise pacing and the sheer balancing act that he succeeds in
utilizing when keeping the many orders of business in line for
Tannhauser without losing the audience.

In these days of war and terror, it is something of a palliative to
our collective soul to discover that history is rife with traumatic
battles between East and West, Muslim and Christian. THE RELIGION
is a great example of impeccable timing --- it could serve up some
serious lessons in tolerance and the banality of war.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 23, 2011

The Religion
by Tim Willocks

  • Publication Date: May 15, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • ISBN-10: 0374248656
  • ISBN-13: 9780374248659