In 1521, Suleiman the Magnificent, ruler of the Ottoman Empire at the height of its power, despatched an invasion fleet to the island of Rhodes. This was the opening shot in an epic struggle between rival empires and faiths, and the ensuing battle for control of the Mediterranean would last sixty years. Empires of the Sea tells the story of this great contest. It is a fast-paced tale of spiralling intensity that ranges from Istanbul to the Gates of Gibraltar and features a cast of extraordinary characters: Barbarossa, the pirate who terrified Europe; the risk-taking Emperor Charles V; the Knights of St John, last survivors of the crusading spirit; and the brilliant Christian admiral Don Juan of Austria. Its brutal climax came between 1565 and 1571, six years that witnessed a fight to the finish, decided in a series of bloody set pieces: the epic siege of Malta; the battle for Cyprus; and the apocalyptic last-ditch defence of southern Europe at Lepanto one of the single most shocking days in world history that fixed the frontiers of the Mediterranean world we know today.Empires of the Sea follows Roger Crowley s first book, the widely praised Constantinople: The Last Great Siege. It is page-turning narrative history at its best a story of extraordinary colour and incident, rich in detail, full of surprises and backed by a wealth of eyewitness accounts.