The War for the Heart of the World Series

The War for the Heart of the World: the Last Crusaders will be the first in a series of novels telling the story of the generation-long struggle for control of the Mediterranean. On one side, the Ottoman Empire under its greatest ruler, Suleiman the Magnificent. On the other, a squabbling group of warring kingdoms, city states and military orders: the Habsburg Empire, straining at the seams under the pressure of the Reformation; La Serenissima, the Republic of Venice, fighting to retain control of its life blood of maritime trade; and the Knights Hospitaller, last order of military monks, searching for a new role in a world where the Age of Discovery has begun.

It is a story of sea battles and spying, of true love and filicide, of science and magic. For this was a time when the old certainties were breaking and a new world was being made. It was a war fought by men such as Gabriele Tadino, the Italian military engineer and Suleiman, the Shadow of God on Earth, who aspired to dominon over the whole world. It was a war fought at sea and on land by Barbary pirates and Albanian spies. It was the last medieval war and the first modern war, a war in which knights in armour manhandled cannons into place and musketeers fired from siege towers.

It was the war that shaped the modern world as it was being born: it was the war for the heart of the world.

The Siege of Rhodes in 1522

As revealed yesterday, the hero of my next historical fiction novel is the great Italian military engineer, Gabriele Tadino. In a career of adventures so wild that most of them I had to leave out for fear readers would find them ludicrous, the highlight was his masterminding of the defence of Rhodes in 1522. The siege is the setting for my new historical fiction novel, due out next year.

During the siege, a force of 700 Knights Hospitaller, the last order of crusading military monks, and a few thousand mercenaries and Rhodians faced the full might of the Ottoman Empire. The sultan himself, Suleiman the Magnificent, had arrived on Rhodes in July with an army of over 70,000 men determined to pull this thorn from the side of his empire. During a six-month siege both defenders and attackers were pushed to breaking point. It is an extraordinary story, full of stories of amazing courage and vile treachery, in a time when science and magic contended upon the battlefield for real. I hope you will enjoy it.

The Hero of My New Book

This is a painting of the formidable gentleman who is the hero of my new historical fiction novel, which is due out next year. In honour of a remarkable man, and in gratitude to you, my gentle readers, I will send a free copy of the book to the first three people across all platforms to tell me who he is. (I’ve blue lined the title of the painting that gives his name away.)