Thursday, November 27, 2008

'The Religion' by Tim Willocks - full review

I bought The Religion by Tim Willocks a little over a year ago. Since then it was staying on my bookshelf with hundreds of other books that I just somehow didn’t have time to read. The reasons for it were many but one of them was that I knew the premise of the book which is the time in history when there is a jihad raging against the Western world. I thought I had had enough books about how horrible the Catholic Church was and all the atrocities it committed in the name of God. Boy, was I wrong!
As I already mentioned, the background of the novel is Sultan Suleiman’s jihad against the Knights of Saint John the Baptist who called themselves The Religion. It is obviously a historical novel that takes place in the mid 1500’s. I would list all the main characters besides Mattias Tannhauser but that would be revealing more than I wish. There are a few things however that I will say about this book.
From the very first pages I was amazed at the richness of language the author used. It was a big surprise for me after reading countless other books written in the 21st century. I lost my hope that there will be another writer like Alexandre Dumas completely. Yet, Willocks just might be the one. There is everything in this book a reader would wish for: adventure, love, passion, hatred, intrigue, you think of it and it is there. It is not however a book to be taken lightly and categorized as one genre and not another. The author eloquently weaves love and war together. The ravages of the heart love causes and the damage done to the mind and soul by war make a reader wonder which one is worse and if in fact they might be one and the same. To some war is their hearts’ deepest desire and fighting for the right cause (even if it’s the lost cause) their greatest reward. For others, mercy, passion and love for another human being give the same fulfillment. But for the main characters it is a constant struggle between the two.
One of my favorite parts is music. How beautifully it is described! What piercing impact it has on all listening to it in the midst of terror and horrors beyond our imaginings! Truly, the novel turned out to be much more complex with its paradoxes, idiosyncrasies and similarities between the phenomena of love and war than I was prepared for when I started reading it. The Religion is one of those few novels that a reader finds him/herself reading not for the plot and what will happen next but for the sheer pleasure of reading, the intricacies of language and complexities of character.
I could write much, much more about The Religion and Tim Willocks’s writing talent. Suffice it to say that I was absolutely taken in and while reading the book could not think about anything else. I still think about it now even thought the book is finished. If you pick up The Religion, get ready for quite a ride!