Malta’s Guns is an epic story (600 pages, 216,000 words) that spans Europe in the year 1565. The age of Knighthood is over, replaced by the growing power of gunpowder weapons and ever-more-powerful cannons. But one place still holds fast to the old ways, the tiny island stronghold of Malta. There the Knights of St. John Hospitaller remain true to the traditions of Knighthood.
Antonio Pesaro was born in Venice, but has lived his whole life in England. A master cannon-maker, he travels to Venice to exchange secrets with the Venetian Arsenal. The he meets Gianetta, his uncle’s ward, and soon falls under her spell. Chance sends him to Malta, where he is attacked and left for dead by the treacherous Venetians. Before he can return to Venice, the might of the Ottoman Empire, under the rule of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, descends on Malta.
Now the island is surrounded by 200 galleys, cutting off any chance of escape or reinforcement. More than 120 siege cannons are landed, along with an army of 40,000 fighters. To resist, the defenders have only 3 small forts, and less than 6,000 men and women. The Great Siege of Malta begins.
Antonio’s cannon-making skills bring him to the Knights’ attention, and he is soon directing Malta’s guns, the only thing stopping the Turks from capturing the island and putting everyone to the sword.
The siege continues, with thousands of cannonballs directed at the forts each day. The Turks expect a quick victory, but the stubborn Knights resist. One fort, St. Elmo, is captured after a brutal assault, but the remaining two forts, protected by their cannons, hold on.
Months drag by, and soon both defenders and attackers are exhausted. But Antonio refuses to give up. Determined to survive and return to Venice, then take his revenge on his attacker. Day by day, he uses his skills to maximize the Knights’ cannons. But even if he survives the siege, more danger awaits in Venice. But Gianetta, his betrothed, awaits him there, and despite Venetian treachery, Antonio will not give up hope.