The Shadow of God

Written by Anthony A. Goodman
Review by Mary K. Bird-Guilliams

The historical setting of this novel is not the heyday of the Crusades, but three centuries later. This is good to keep in mind, since the warfare pits Christian Knights against Muslim Turks. Again.

The theme of recurring conflict between fanatical elements of both sides of this religious divide is too relevant to miss. The battle for Rhodes, a strategic island of economic importance, is disguised as an ideological conflict, but it is really a vivid demonstration, painstakingly reenacted by the author, of masculine power madness, territoriality and aggression. The epigraph by Blaise Pascal reads: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction,” but I repeat, the piety does not obscure the naked berserker momentum on both sides.

The author provides good objective viewpoints of the Christian and Muslim. Many interesting details of the Ottoman Empire and the Knights’ daily lives accompany and relieve the play by play of the siege. This book is worth picking up if you are interested in historic battles, the background of Christian/Islamic conflicts, or if you fancy a fresh lesson on the madness of war. Sensitive types be warned: gore abounds.