By Marthese Fenech
The ghosts of war leave no footprints. When legendary Ottoman seaman Dragut Raїs attacks the Maltese islands in 1551, his army renders Gozo a smoking ruin emptied of its entire population. Among the five thousand carried into slavery is Augustine Montesa, father of Domenicus and Katrina.
Wounded and broken, Domenicus vows to find his father, even if it means abandoning Angelica, his true love. Armed with only a topaz to serve as ransom, he sets out on a journey that sees him press-ganged from the streets of mainland Europe and thrown into the frontline of battle. On Malta, Katrina strives to keep her family home from falling apart. After the Grand Master of the knights has her publicly flogged for speaking out against him, she struggles to find work. When at last she stumbles upon a promising position, all is not as it seems. Her new job forces her to confront a terrifying truth—one that could prove disastrous for Robert, the man she loves.
Hundreds of leagues to the east in Istanbul, Demir works hard to become an imperial Ottoman horseman, despite having to endure the cruelty of his half-brother and father. Life takes an unexpected turn the moment Demir encounters a young woman, stolen from Malta, brought into the household as another of his father’s concubines.
Falcon’s Shadow sweeps from quarry pits to sprawling estates, tumultuous seas to drought-ravaged lands, the dungeons beneath the bishop’s palace to the open decks of warships, creaking gallows to sun-drenched courtyards. Two empires collide at the Battle of Djerba, a fateful clash which unites lost kin, only to tear them apart once more.
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Marthese Fenech is the author of historical novels set in sixteenth-century Europe. Research has taken her to the ancient streets her characters roamed, the fortresses they defended, the seas they sailed, and the dungeons they escaped. Obstinate curiosity has led her to sixty-five countries across six continents. She does her best plot-weaving while hiking mountain trails, wandering local markets, paddle boarding cliff-sheltered bays, and sitting at home with her Siberian husky curled at her feet.
The youngest of five, Marthese was born in Toronto to Maltese parents. At twelve, she moved to Malta for six months and was enrolled in an all-girls private school run by nuns; she lasted three days before getting kicked out for talking too much. Back in Toronto, she started her own business recording, editing, and selling bootleg heavy metal concerts. She later worked with special needs children and adults, witnessing small miracles daily.
Marthese has a Master’s degree in Education and teaches high school English and Social Science. She speaks fluent Maltese and French and knows how to ask where the bathroom is in Spanish and Italian. A former kickboxing instructor, she surfs, snowboards, scuba-dives, climbs, skydives, throws axes, and practices yoga—which may sometimes include goats. She lives north of Toronto with her brilliant, mathematically-inclined husband and brilliant, musically-inclined dog, known to lead family howl sessions on occasion.