Angels in Iron

by Nicholas C. Prata

  General / Favorable Reviews
  Critical Reviews
  Belongs on the bookshelf of every Catholic man, should be read by every Catholic boy (11 or older).

--Latin Mass Magazine

Compellingly written and surprisingly difficult to put down....A fascinating read for adults and teens.

--The St. Linus Review

Prata brings this fascinating tale to life by giving the characters real personalities....The book is a real page-turner.

--Favorite Resources for Catholic Homeschoolers



Despite all the glowing reviews, I just couldn't get behind this one... **

I love historical fiction, and after reading the glowing reviews for "Angels in Iron", I knew I had to check it out.

Reading the reviews again, I have to wonder if I read the same book as the other reviewers. Nothing about this book blew me away or kept me glued to the page. Indeed, I found it marginal at best, and ultimately put it aside after a little over a hundred pages.

The characters struck me as two-dimensional and rife with cliche. La Vallette may as well have been a cardboard cutout. There is nothing to him but a dogged determination to hold Malta at all costs. The lesser knights exhibit similar emotional depths.

The battle scenes were better, but in my opinion pedestrian. After the first they quickly became repetitive, and I've seen much better and more visceral descriptions in dozens of other books.

The last straw for me, though, was the superhuman prowess of the Hospitalers versus the Turks. Probably because we never get any sense of this prowess being earned, whether through training, discipline, better equipment, etc. It just is, and it takes a lot of the tension and fun out of the story.

The siege of Malta is a harrowing tale...but this novel just did not do it for me.

otro lector mas




Unbearable tension *****

The funny thing is that I knew what the outcome of the battle was before I read this book as probably did most other readers. Yet I don't think I've read a book so quickly in my life. I couldn't stop turning page after page with my heart in my throat to see if yet another Turkish charge could be repelled by the battered defenders near the end of their rope, or whether the unrelenting Turkish bombardment would stop, or whether the Spanish relief force would arrive. The vivid battle descriptions were beyond gripping. Picture Saruman's attack on Helm's Deep or Sauron's army at Gondor and you may get an idea, only this really did happen between humans, and went on for months on end. I got to really care about the main characters and to wish they all could survive to the end (unfortunately most didn't). I could go on and on. This book is an absolute narrative jewel.

On a sideline, it is regrettable how this glorious clash remains obscure in our American culture since most of us probably would not have been interested in picking up this book without prior knowledge. But unlike the Crusades, there are no PC issues in this struggle: The Christians were unquestionably the "good guys" and the Muslims were unquestionably the "bad guys". The Christians were attacked in their own homeland and they only sought to defend themselves from Muslim expansionism. Having said that, though he clearly is partial to the Chrsitians, the author gives a very evenhanded portrayal of the Turks.

This battle must be the greatest testament to what sheer willpower and determination can accomplish. It is also a great lesson as to how the ultimate result of a battle can completely depend on the very earliest dispositions.


otro lector mas




A Must Read for 16th [Century] Enthusiasts *****

As the author of a similar genre book, The Spear of Lepanto (2005), I congratulate Nicholas Prata's Angels in Iron. His riveting account of the crucial 1565 Siege of Malta between the Ottoman Turks and the Knights of St. John is a testimony to unyielding faith in the face of staggering odds.

From early childhood, I was always impressed by the courage of King Leonidas of the Spartans. The story of the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC) has lived in the annals of history as a shining symbol of heroism, bravery and gritty determination.

Just as Leonidas stood in defiance before an overwhelming Persian host with his valiant 300, so did Jean Parisot de la Valette stand some 2,000 years later. As grand master of the legendary Knights of St. John, la Valette, with 592 knights and several thousand Maltese and European volunteers defied for four months the 40,000 plus forces and heavy guns of Suleyman the Magnificent on the tiny island of Malta.

Author Nicholas Prata has given us a new insight and appreciation of this important confrontation that may indeed have saved Christian Europe from the onslaught of Moslem steel. Had it not been for la Valette's stubborn resistance, it is quite apparent that the Italian peninsula would be the next target for Turkish armies from a fortified base at Malta.

Prata gives us chapter after chapter of men refusing surrender in the face of certain death, men who drew strength and a sense of invincibility from their faith. I commend the author for his authentic page turning account of the great siege. Certainly la Valette stands equally with Leonidas when it comes to devotion to duty and dogged determination in the face of incredible odds.

Leon J. Radomile "old warrior"






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