I have a slight quirk in my reading habit in which I occasionally have to stop and put the book down just before something harrowing, exciting or pivotal is about to happen. I don’t do it all the time but while I was reading The Priest’s Tale by S.J.A.Turney I found myself doing it often. This, the second volume of The Ottoman Cycle, continues the tale of Skiouros who is now on Crete, leaving Istanbul behind at the end of volume one disguised an Orthodox Christian priest. The year is 1492 and Skiouros has been preparing himself to deal with the one person left responsible for the death of his brother. Deeming the time to be right he leaves Crete and is headed to Rome where his foe is a prisoner/guest of Pope Innocent VIII. The trials and tribulations of what should have been an easy voyage are the focus of this exciting story.
Hassan Ecti, captain of an Ottoman war ship has his own mission, albeit an over zealous one as he is determined to destroy any vestige of Christianity in lands that are now being taken away from the Muslim faithful in the West, lands that they have been settled in for seven centuries are now under control of the hated Pope. The clash between Hassan and Skiouros and his friends is full of the blind bigotry brought on when religions collide, a violent collision that continues today.
Mr. Turney has given us a tale that is full of suspense, full of surprises, full of the turmoil inherent in any good book. Skiouros has grown in character and we are able to see and feel the anguish he encounters in his bid for vengeance. The supporting cast are also well written, good guys and the never ending supply of baddies. I read a lot of historical fiction and it is the baddies that make these tales interesting and hard to put down. Hassan Ecti rates as one of top five baddies I’ve encountered.
Descriptive and full of intrigue and surprises, The Priest’s Tale takes the reader on a wonderful ride with a host of great characters and a most entertaining ending that leads into volume three, The Assassin’s Tale. The author has, in my own humble opinion, created yet another masterful, hard to put down glimpse into the past. Well done, Mr. Turney, keep on writing as I am not yet sated.