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Showing 1-10 of 12 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 18 reviews
on March 28, 2013
When my husband suggested I read the Ash Chronicles, I was reluctant. I'm not usually a fan of historical fiction and I whined and moaned that I wouldn't enjoy this one. He goaded me on with the promise of strong female characters and a touch of fantasy so I finally agreed. I'm so glad I did! I couldn't put it down! I read like a mad woman, even through battle scenes, to the very end. I love when a book makes me not want to put it down. I keep a copy on my bookshelf because I plan to re-read it someday. Thanks, Mary Gentle, for making me give historical fiction a chance and getting me curious about the real-world events in this fantasy. I now have a few other books in this genre on my bookshelf.
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on March 7, 2016
Really well researched and written. Fantastic story line (and story within a story). Love the battle armor and battlefield details and an insight into the lives of 15th century mercenaries.

Since some of the characters are based on actual people, I used the opportunity, when mentioned in the story, to look up those individuals and glean more insight to that era. Overall a fascinating premise and result.
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on June 19, 2017
This is a towering work. It's great fantasy, managing to be Medieval, Arthurian, alternate history, and conspiracy theory all at once. It's a grand thing.
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on May 5, 2009
If you're looking for a gripping story with a ferociously strong heroine...
If you get a little tingly and wistful during History Channel programs on weapons and warfare of the middle ages;
If you love fantasy and sci-fi and would love to read an epic adventure on a par with Tolkien, but admittedly a tad darker in the narrative;
read this book.

This is an award-winning book (won the Sidewise award in 2000) that has consistently earned critical acclaim over the years. The use of "swashbuckling" above in the review makes you think of Disney and pirates. This is far, far from Disney. It is at times grim and dark, and in its 1000+ pages has on two occasions visited images of the atrocities of war so unspeakable that I sort of wish I didn't have the images in my head now. But the book is worth it. The story and the characters and the writing are worth it. This isn't like Bernard Cornwell - the violence is part of the story, not simply gratuitous. Ms. Gentle is a master swordsman herself and has a master's degree in War Studies. It shows in the writing. I'm already getting a little panicky wondering what I'll read next that won't be like cheap table wine after a fine claret, or Lone Star after Guinness.
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on March 2, 2014
This is a very long, complex work. What might be considered the main narrative is the story of Ash, a woman mercenary commander in what appears to be an alternate history. This narrative is a real page-turner, featuring compelling characters and practically endless struggle. Ash herself is one of the most interesting characters in recent fiction.
Mary Gentle is not gentle. Ash's story is gritty and even ugly in places. The virtues that she and her comrades show are not those treasured by much of the modern world.
There is also a framing story. I found reading e-mails between a scholar/author and an editor boring and annoying. Several times I thought of skipping those parts.
The end makes reading the apparently mundane passages worthwhile.
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on November 1, 2014
The frame text - the story of the translator - isn't particularly compelling to me, but I do love Ash's story itself. It's very long, and it's violent, but I greatly enjoyed exploring an alternate history of Burgundy and late 1400s Europe.
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on November 17, 2016
Amazing book, I loved every moment of it.
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on April 21, 2006
This book was great! I read the entire 1000 (or so) page volume in several days. It is reminiscent of the popular The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon, but, dare I say it, better.

It's a very realistic, gritty military fantasy set in medieval France. Ash, a girl, grows up as an orphan in a mercenary camp. At one point, she discovers a voice in her head that gives her tactical advice during battles. With the help of the voice, she grows into a brilliant mercenary leader .

The story is like alternate history/fantasy/hint of scifi. Historical fantasy shows a hint to alternate history when Carthage invades Europe. And the brilliant general leader of the Carthagian forces happens to look exactly like Ash and also respond to a voice in her head. What is the voice? Is it hallucination, a demon, or a computer?

Great adventure, thrilling battles, mysteries, and discoveries. The main character is a vibrant strong woman, very realistically portrayed. I wish there had been more romance. Ash is in an arranged marriage with a man she's really attracted to, on a base physical level, who has nothing but distaste for her. But, since this is not a trashy romance novel, she dismisses her lust for him for what it is, has no trouble beating him up or sticking to her grand plans of conquest and adventure. I loved it. I do wish that there was more sex though. After all, once the battle is won, the warrior herione must get her reward in the arms of a handsome boy, right?
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on January 22, 2014
Splendid series from a gifted author. Excellent alternative history, detailed and fascinating. Female mercenary is a real treat to read about and learn from.
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on February 26, 2014
An unusual tale, gripping and compelling with a terrific twist at the end. Mary Gentle is the (master) of this genre
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