Angels in Iron

Book cover: 'Angels in Irons'
Nicholas C Prata
Evolution Publishing
Number of pages: 
313 pages
Grade / Age level: 

Angels in Iron is the absorbing tale of the siege of Malta in 1564 between the Knights of St. John of the Hospital (a military religious order) and Suleiman's forces. Suleiman, the most famous sultan of the Turkish Ottoman Empire (who has at this point significantly expanded his empire) has grand plans to conquer the world - and that includes Malta, the new home of the Knights of St. John of the Hospital. The Grand Master of this order witnessed their surrender at Rhodes (their former home) when he was a young knight. Now he is determined to hold on to Malta to the bitter end. Will he succeed in defeating the Turks against incredible odds or will his stubborn pride be the ruin of his Order and cause the loss of many lives?

Prata brings this fascinating tale to life by giving the characters real personalities. They are not mere pawns used to further the plot of the story. Interesting subplots abound. Will the feuding Florentines, Di Corso and Rambaldi, succeed in killing one another before the enemy has a chance or will the grace of God intervene?

Because of a few "choice" words, very minor sexual references (nothing coarse or inappropriate), and extreme violence at times (bodies are getting hacked to pieces), this novel would be more appropriate for a mature high school student than younger children. While the violence is definitely graphic at times, especially in the heat of battle ("The decapitated body stumbled down the hill, neck spewing blood...") since war is hell, it is most realistically portrayed.

Why read a story of such blood and gore? The overwhelming theme is courage, honor, and the Catholic faith. The knights know what the loss of this island will mean. They are willing to die for their faith. There are also many touching moments regarding their Faith. Even though they are in the midst of war, the knights celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi. A conversation tairkes place between a squire from Germany who wants to take up arms in defense of the Faith and a knight from Italy who advises, "All in good time, little brother. Youth must learn that service is more than death. We must strive to live for The Word before we can die for it."

This book is a real page-turner: Will the knights be able to hold on to the forts in the midst of wave after wave of bombardments and attacks? What really happened at the siege in Malta? Who is going to win the battle of wits and psychological stamina? And ultimately, will the knights be able to fearlessly defend Catholic Europe from the invasion of the scourge of Islam? Read Angels in Iron to find out.

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