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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. What follows is a desperate struggle between East and West, Cross and Koran, faith and despair. 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 unimaginable horror of combat sharply into focus.
In the sixteenth century the fortunes of the ongoing war between Islam and Christendom tipped decidedly in favor of Islam. The Ottoman Empire, under the skilled and grasping hand of Sultan Suleiman the Lawgiver, repeatedly probed a divided Europe. Master of a devoted and skilled war machine, Suleiman boasted he would erect a mosque in Rome after destroying Christian Europe. Three times the Ottomans attempted all out thrusts into western Europe. Turkish victories at the great battles of Vienna, Lepanto or Malta would have achieved Suleiman's dream and altered the course of Western Culture.