Monday, March 3, 2014

Vienna's Last Jihad by C. Wayne Dawson

Rating: ★ ★ ★ 
Read: February 28, 2014

Brash and brilliant, twenty year old Mathis Zieglar, Professor of Languages, faces an agonizing choice: should he fight the Turks who take his family hostage and move to destroy Vienna? Or should he betray his army to save his kin? Vienna’s Last Jihad is an historical novel set against the 1683 siege of Vienna. Europe is balanced on a knife’s edge while Mathis, the man who holds its fate in his hands, struggles against powerful enemies: Father Sistini, a Jesuit who brands him a heretic and drags Mathis’ fiancée off to the Inquisition; a xenophobic city mob, who wants him dead for protecting a Hungarian soldier; but most dangerous of all, Captain Tyrek, a Muslim chieftain who will kill Mathis’ family unless he spies against his own army. One by one, Tyrek’s agents murder Mathis’ closest associates in an attempt to isolate him. As 138,000 Turks grind down Vienna’s 15,000 defenders with no relief in sight, Mathis’ only chance to save family and country is to use his ability to speak Tartar and the knack he learned as a child to leap, whirl like an unwinding mainspring, and strike. The 1683 siege of Vienna was an historic turning point in the struggle between East and West. Had the defenders failed, the invaders would have gutted Central Europe in a rampage of mass slaughter and enslavement. 

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Every now and then I come across a piece of fiction that completely blows my mind and I mean that in nicest way possible. Take for example C. Wayne Dawson's Vienna Last Jihad. 

Set against 1683 siege of Vienna, the narrative opened my eyes to an entirely new chapter of world history. In point of fact, the time I spent with it sparked a fair degree of curiosity and at the end of the day isn't that a mark of good historic fiction?

Another thing I liked about this piece was Dawson's portrayal of conflict. Fiction requires there be a hero, a good and a bad, but outside of that, I appreciate the author's interest in painting as comprehensive a portrait as possible, affording the reader enough explanation to understand the issues he touched on inside and out. 

Ideally, I might have liked to see a tad more emphasis on the emotional themes of the narrative and I will note its tendency to slow in response to the level of detail incorporated within the text, but these are minor criticisms at best. 

Violent and at times horrific, Vienna's Last Jihad is not one for the squeamish. It is, however, a worthwhile and unique tale that highlights an event few writers dare to tackle. 

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Looking each man in the eye, he smiled. “One hundred and fifty years ago, Sultan Suleiman declared holy war against Vienna, but had to retreat when the winter snow fell early. This time, however, we have come much earlier in the season. This is the last Vienna jihad. Now’s your chance to regain Muslim honor.”
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Check out all the stops on C. Wayne Dawson's Vienna's Last Jihad Virtual Book Tour

Monday, February 24
Spotlight & Giveaway at Historical Novel Review
Wednesday, February 26
Guest Post & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books
Monday, March 3
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, March 4
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, March 6
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Tuesday, March 11
Interview at Layered Pages
Wednesday, March 12
Guest Post at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, March 13
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Friday, March 14
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Thursday, March 20
Review at Just One More Chapter
Friday, March 21
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

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