A Secret History - Book of Ash, Bk 1 Author:Mary Gentle There is more than one history of the world . . . — In the mid-fifteenth century there was Burgundy, the jewel of Europe-opulent and powerful, the undisputed center of an uncivilized world. — In an epoch of war and madness there was Ash. A girl born in mud and dung, she slew her first men while only eight. Scarred and ravaged, but still bea... more »utiful, she rose up to lead a great mercenary army before the age of twenty--and followed a sacred voice wise in the bloody ways of battle to a pinnacle unattainable to even the most potent of legends.
In a time when empires and alliances shifted like sand--when Mithras the bull was worshipped freely alongside the Christ--a great cloud arose out of Africa to darken the sun. The Visigoths came with their terrible machines-powered by magic or a science unknown to this day--and aimed their irresistible might toward the rich Burgundian prize, wrenching the wheel of civilization in an unknown and unexpected direction. And with their coming, one incomparable warrior raised on Destiny's ash heap became more that anyone thought one woman could ever be.« less
This is a very gritty, well researched tale of medieval warfare, and a woman who leads it. It is quite an interesting story. It is not, however, for the prudish or squeamish, since the rape of an 8-year-old occurs on the first page, the "F" word is liberally sprinkled throughout, and the very realistic depictions of life during that time are not always pretty and clean. For those who don't mind the above, a recommended read.
Cyn V. (rook) reviewed A Secret History (Book of Ash, Bk 1) on
Helpful Score: 1
Worth your time if you are looking for realism in medieval warfare, lifestyle, clothing and politics. This is a fantastic story for those who like historical fiction! Also good if you prefer experiencing the world from "inside the character", a trait of which Mary Gentle is a superior writer. I found myself identifying with many of the characters in Ash and have since gone on to collect the entire series.
NOT good if you cannot handle the blood, filth, and profanity inherent in the lifestyle of a soldier. Personally, I thought the realism enriched the story, but it may not be the same for everyone.
The only detraction was the interjection of "emails" between "manuscripts." (Ash's tale is told through several different manuscripts which are being researched by an historian, who is in turn discussing them with his publisher.) This modern intrusion is necessary to explain why certain things are happening in Ash's time, but it was like reading two books that had been hastily shoved into one another.