A Knight of the Order of St John, Gerard Paulet is languishing in the Grand Priory of Rome. He is a man who fought alongside the legendary Leone Strozzi, who made extreme sacrifices for his faith, and is the last of a generation able to speak of the great crusades.
The young novice tasked with tending to Paulet's broken body is desperate to hear the tales of the former glories of his hero and his comrades. But what makes a hero? Is it the man who stays true to his vows, even in the face of a woman's love? Is it the man who resists the politics of others and always chooses the path that is right, despite the consequences? Is it the crusader who saves the most souls? Gerard Paulet has a lot to teach about the nature of heroism, and sometimes it's nothing like the rumours, and just about a will to survive . . .
Simon Mawer was born in 1948 in England, and spent his childhood there, in Cyprus and in Malta. He then moved to Italy, where he and his family lived for more than thirty years, and taught at the British International School in Rome. He and his wife currently live in Hastings. Simon Mawer is the author of several novels including the Man Booker shortlisted The Glass Room, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky and Tightrope.