Set in the first decade of the 19th century on the small Mediterranean island of Malta, this is the story of Leo Bonanno, a Sicilian who leaves his home and makes the short journey to become a professional soldier in Malta with the British army. Based in Fort Ricasoli and serving with the Froberg regiment, the story unfolds his experiences. Fuelled by enthusiasm and ambition, Leo’s eyes are soon opened by the brutality and difficulties of military life on the island. He falls in love with Lisa, a local girl, and then gets involved in a rebellion with all the attendant dangers and threats.
There is a lot of historical background, and just occasionally the narrative reads more like a historical non-fiction account than a novel, and the writing can be a little clunky at times. But it is an engaging and thoroughly enjoyable story, one that pulls few punches in its descriptions of military life.