The Course of Fortune, Volumes 1, 2, and 3

Written by Tony Rothman
Review by Justin M. Lindsay

Francisco de Barai, young and full of vigor, must flee his native Seville under false charges. What follows is a 15-year adventure across the Mediterranean and two continents. He soon falls in with the Knights of Malta. Though, given his low birth, he can never be one of them, he finds both friendship and rivalries among their ranks. Through years of toil, ambition, and slavery he becomes increasingly bound to these knights, and to an oath to slay Dragut, the famous Ottoman admiral and privateer. All will be decided in what will become the greatest siege and conflict of the century: the Siege of Malta.

In this epic tale, Rothman uncompromisingly sets the reader deep in the 16th-century world of the Mediterranean – unmitigated, with no nod to modern sensibilities or expectations. It’s wonderful and refreshing. The characters are complex and three-dimensional, and his writing is compelling. The story is witnessed through Francisco’s eyes (as he relates it to his captor, Suleiman the Magnificent), and Rothman folds in the flavor of the Maltese, French, Sicilian, and Ottoman worlds with a deftness that is a joy to take in. Well worth the read – recommended.