There is nothing in common between the king of France’s brutal suppression of the Knights Templar Order in 1307 and a small, backward, closely knit community of serfs living in the rural island of Malta who are dominated by religion and superstition. Until Jacques, a Templar knight who manages to escape the wrath of the French king, sails away from France to seek refuge in Sicily but got lost in a storm and lands his battered boat on the shore near the serfs’ hamlet.
For centuries, the serfs’ sexual deprivations and close association with their farm animals has driven them to practice unnatural sexual intercourse with their animals and with members of their families, and even with the local priest, perversions of bestiality and incest which, however, they manage to keep as a close secret within the confines of their community.
This ancient way of life suddenly faces the unthinkable hazard of exposure when Jacques becomes fascinated with Maria, a young, beautiful, and unblemished goatherd, and inevitably they both fall in passionate love with each other. This attracts the envy of the rest of the hypocrite inhabitants, especially the females, who fail to recognise the chasm that exists between their sexual perversions and the normal sensual attraction between a man and a woman in love. Maria and Jacques are persecuted and forced to flee, and they sail to the safety of Palermo, in nearby Sicily where they marry. While Maria vows to return someday to avenge herself on her compatriots, would she, a simple goatherd, succeed in coping with the vastly different town life in cosmopolitan and fashionable Palermo?
A compelling novel about love, hate, war, sex, and revenge in a medieval society.