Malta. May 1565.
From the shores of the Golden Horn, Suleiman the Magnificent, Emperor of the Ottomans, has sent the greatest armada since antiquity to wipe out Islam's most implacable foe, the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem, in their stronghold on the island of Malta. To the Turks the knights are known as 'The Hounds of Hell'. The knights call themselves 'The Religion'.
Meanwhile, in Sicily, a disgraced and exiled Maltese noblewoman, Carla La Penautier, has been trying to return to the doomed island in an attempt to find the bastard son who was taken from her at his birth. The Religion have refused her every plea and a tormented Roman Inquisitor, Ludovico Ludovici, seeks to imprison her. But Carla recruits a notorious adventurer and arms merchant - Mattias Tannhauser - to help her evade the Inquisition and to escape on the last galley to run the Turkish blockade. As the ensuing apocalyptic conflict between Islam and Christianity becomes the most brutal and harrowing siege in military history, Tannhauser and Carla must survive the bloody inferno and track down a twelve-year-old boy whose face they have never seen and whose name they do not know. And neither of them reckon on the return of the avenging Inquisitor, Ludovico Ludovici...
The Religion is an epic and exuberant tale of love and war, of intrigue and obsession, of politics and faith and high adventure. Against a rich and meticulously detailed historical backcloth, it tells of a small band of intrepid men and women who defy the madness of Holy War to realize their own vision of God and Eternity.