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Lost Burgundy:: The Book Of Ash, #4 Mass Market Paperback – December 5, 2000

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Editorial Reviews


"Gentle continually subverts reader expectations--those who appreciate truly original, imaginative work should be sure to seek out this series." -- --Winnipeg Free Press

"One of the best fantasies I've read in the past 15 years, bar none." -- --S.M. Stirling, author of On the Oceans of Eternity

About the Author

The author of A Secret History, Mary Gentle has written eight books that have won critical acclaim from science fiction and fantasy authors and critics alike. She's completed two Master degrees and is an expert sword-fighter. Her home resides in England

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Product Details

  • Series: Book of Ash (Book 4)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Eos (December 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380811146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380811144
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #901,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Elyon on December 19, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There is much to recommend this book as well as this series: strong and detailed military description, vivid reconstruction of the medieval period, and a strong central protagonist, as well as secondary figures, who evolves and develops as character, at the end coming to an epiphanous realization about herself and the world she inhabits. The prose is solidly constructed, and great emotion evoked in the scenes where Ash begins to accept her humanity and her true feelings for the men and women she leads. And, at least in the first book, intriguing questions are raised as to the veracity of history, and our contemporary interpretations of the past.
This examination of history is accomplished through the fictional and contemporary commentary and correspondence of a professor purportedly translating and collecting the medieval manuscripts that recount the life of Ash, a female mercenary leader of the late fifteenth century. Presented in a manner mimicking an academician's notes and correspondence with his publisher, this "history" is written complete with the "author's" commentary, as well as running emails to his publisher. While intruding upon the main narrative recounting the life of Ash, in the first book this secondary story line does much to inform and expand upon the theme of the primary narrative, used as a running dialogue to examine our contemporary notions and the validity of our reconstruction of a period in which evidence is scanty and often of questionable provenance.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Stefan VINE VOICE on July 21, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the final part of "Ash: A Secret History" - an excellent fantasy novel by UK author Mary Gentle. The novel describes the life of Ash, a Joan of Arc-like mercenary leader. Ash is a young teenager, living in mercenary army camps at the end of the 15th century. She starts hearing voices in her head, giving her tactical advice on battlefield situations. When she becomes a successful battlefield commander, she forms her own mercenary army and gets involved in the protection of Burgundy against an invasion.
This novel gives a very gritty, realistic view of life in the 15th century. Right from the start the reader is confronted with the mud, blood, sweat and pain of the life of a soldier. Gentle is not afraid to hurt or kill her characters. Even though the story is brutal and often horrifying, it is always a compelling read.
"Ash: A Secret History" is presented as the translation of a manuscript, complete with footnotes explaining some of the archaic terms. The correspondence between Pierce Ratcliff, the fictional scholar who is translating the work, and his editor Anna Longman, is inserted between the chapters of Ash's life. This correspondence adds an entirely new dimension to the story, explaining some of the anachronistic expressions and some of the differences between Ash's version of history and our own. Another reviewer called this novel a combination of fantasy and scholarly mistery.
Mary Gentle, an accomplished scholar herself, acquired an MA in War Studies as part of the writing process of this novel.
"Ash: A Secret History" was advertised in the UK as "the largest single-volume fantasy novel ever", which is quite possibly true at 1100 pages. In the US, however, the novel was split into 4 separate volumes: "A Secret History", "Carthage Ascendant", "The Wild Machines" and "Lost Burgundy".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Maddi Hausmann Sojourner on January 25, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Lost Burgundy is the fourth book in the "The Book of Ash." This isn't a series, as the books were all published simultaneously, and in the UK it was one 1100 page novel (the largest single-volume fantasy ever). I guess the publisher figured in the US we have short attention spans.
The whole sequence of four books is difficult to categorize. While labeled Fantasy, it includes science fiction, alternative history, and postmodern deconstruction. That, perhaps, is why several reviewers got annoyed with these books. They don't stay in one category. This is not a failure but a success; this work is a tour de force.
In Book IV, Ash and her mercenary company are stuck in Dijon, awaiting a battle with both soldiers and bizarre physical forces. Elsewhere, the sun has ceased to shine. Ash's twin (or clone) is somehow responsible, and Ash alternates between feelings of revenge and humiliation. The wraparound story, correspondence between a modern author researching Ash, and his editor, is also changing in tone; the editor suggests the author has gone quietly insane, but the reader senses he hasn't despite his reality disappearing. There are elements of Phillip K. Dick in their tale, and it has slowly seeped into Ash's story as well.
While the denouement works, the epilogue feels out of place, almost as if it were written by someone less talented. Other than needing a stronger ending, this is a terrific series that deserves your attention, all four books of it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Ware on December 7, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This series turned out to be a disappointment to me. This could be due to the fact that I was going into the series with a certain set of expectations and the books turned out to be focused in a different direction. I was expecting epic medieval fantasy: lots of battles, strong characters, and fast paced action. These are the reasons that I read more fantasy than I do sci-fi. A lot of sci-fi tends to lean on heavy character development and fleshing out ideas and concepts. In essence, this series of books could be classified as "medieval sci-fi." The last half of the series was mostly excruciatingly slow with nothing really happening for hundreds of pages. There were a couple of action scenes in there, especially at the ends of the books, but the rest of the time, the characters didn't seem to be accomplishing anything. This lack of action is what ultimately lessened my enjoyment of the books.
As in the previous three books, however, Gentle gives us strong, vivid characters and realistic surroundings. I actually felt as if I was trapped within the frozen city. Her descriptions are subtle, but effective and her characters interact with one another and react to their surroundings just as you or I would. The only thing that kept me turning the pages was a desire to see what the characters would do next (hoping all the while that they would actually DO something).
The ending of this final book in the series seemed strange to me as well. It is sort of an epilogue to both the story of Ash and the story of the historians of the wrapper story. The last twenty or so pages seemed kind of tacky. They seemed to weaken the overall story and I could definitely have done without them.
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