Tim Willocks- The Religion

11900563.gifYou sort of count on Farrar, Straus and Giroux to run a high class publishing house. Dignified, don’t you know. And informed. So it’s irritating to read the end flaps for Tim Willocks’s very good historical novel The Religion and find the following truly stupid statement gush of publiprose: “This is what we dream of: to be so swept away, so poleaxed by a book that the breath is sucked right out of us. Anne Rice transformed the vampire novel. Stephen King reinvented horror. Now, in a spectacular tale of heroism, tragedy, and passion, Tim Willocks revivifies historical fiction.” And on. And on.

So what is Patrick O’Brien? Chopped liver?authorphoto.jpg

FS&G also saw fit to include a picture of Willocks (to your right) that makes him look like the child of Jim Morrison and Braveheart. His mother must be so ashamed.

I never would have read this book if I had read the end flaps first, and you probably wouldn’t have either.

The facts are these: Dr. Willocks (he’s an M.D.) has turned out a remarkably good book pitting Suleiman the Magnificent (Why couldn’t my parents have named me that or something equally intimidating) against the Knights of Saint John the Baptist on Malta. It is hugely entertaining, packed with stuff you never knew about the 16th century but will be glad you know after reading, and it is the first of a trilogy. So if you like it, and I think you will, there’s a lot more to come.

A further fact: historical fiction has been around for a long time. It gets better and better and better. Readers who wander wistfully through browsing areas wondering why they don’t write books that used to be called “good reads” should get over the widespread American aversion (rife among English majors) to historical novels and dive in. The Religion is a good place to start. Just skip the flaps.

-Nemo Wolfe

Published in: on August 29, 2007 at 11:30 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. Am halfway through and love the book. I got the audiobook from audible so that I can hear some of the many foreign (to me) words and phrases. It’s an awesome book. The battle scenes are amazing and very detailed, giving one the sense of what a sixteenth century battle is like. So far not a single boring page.

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