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Ash : A Secret History by Mary Gentle
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Ash : A Secret History (1999)

by Mary Gentle

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: ASH: A Secret History (Omnibus 1-4)

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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Ms. Gentle's work is of high quality. This is definitely not by-the-yard trolls, dragons and Elves fantasy. It is a setting postulating that the Visigoths are still in possession of North Africa, and there is a very weird meteorological phenomenon dominating the south shore of the Mediterranean. But the changes all happened so long ago that there's very little artistic reason for any of this being on our earth. I guess it saved money on drawing a map of a made-up planet. So a curious failure in fantasy construction as far as I'm concerned. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Apr 18, 2014 |
This is fantasy that is written by a woman for women in my opinion.

As a premise I give it 5 stars. Aliens attacking earth, using the pyramids, golems, and breeding of telepathics for communication with the aliens...mind control, loss of the sun...good stuff for a book.

But then I start subtracting stars from there:

-0.5 star : I did not like the heroine. You get into the head of the women in the story all the time...it is well written from that point I suppose as you see them (Ash and Floria) make decisions, agonize over their results, change their mind, agonize over that...so much like my ex that I started to have flashbacks :) Hates a man for abusing her in a disgusting way...is forced to marry this weak SOB...has one night of sex on their marriage night and then decides maybe he is ok...the man is a traitor, abuser, weakling but good looking and apparently good in bed...I know women like that, they never learn it seems.

-0.5 star: The author (in an effort to make her tough I suppose) gives Ash a potty mouth to end all potty mouths. The men in the story rarely swear but she uses the f-bomb sometimes 10 times on a page...not realistic but I suppose it is supposed to make her a no-nonsense warrior...after a while it sounded more like whine to me.

-0.5 star: The author is apparently an expert on medieval history. I did not care for the pseudo research that cuts in every few chapters....did not do anything to enhance the story, I stopped reading it after a while.

-0.5 star:The battle scenes are terrible. Yes there is a fog of war and confusion on the battle field but given her expertise on the period I would have expected to see some logical use of forces...every battle was nothing more than a mad melee. Ash never really COMMANDS in the battle, she seems lost in the conflict, wondering why her scouts don't report to her...well she is never in one place...I doubt she could be found. Everyone bows to her as a leader but I don't see her leading at all in any battle scene...in a major battle scene near the end she seems more of a drunken boob tripping over bodies, maybe killing one though she is in the thick of the battle. If it were not for the "voices" she would be nothing special.

This is a long story that drags a bit towards the end in the siege of Dijon...they are surrounded by 300 siege machines for several months and the bad guys cannot knock down a single wall??? Impossible...but this is a fantasy...definitely not reality. ( )
2 vote Lynxear | Nov 15, 2013 |
The narrative is well constructed - you go from an historical novel to an epic fantastic/fantasy and science-fiction tale, without noticing, which is surprising. Ash's life starts in medieval Burgundy, then grows up to fight battles against many enemies. However, in the course of these battles, she discovers many secrets, which will have repercussions until now, the modern world. Then we learn that golems are real and that Ash carries a secret that could change the face of the world. I liked the first part best, as I like well-rounded historical stories, then I read on and, as the story developped, I was surprised by the cryptic clues and how they all merged to form some fantastic tale. The ending was unexpected, but it doesn't detract from the book as a whole. I enjoyed this big book (it is a door-stopper), it changed quite a bit from my usual readings, and if you fancy strong female characters, this book is for you! ( )
1 vote soniaandree | Oct 25, 2012 |
Wierd in a good way. Doesn't completely take off, but curious and unusual. A story of an alternative middle ages where women occasionally lead bands of mercenaries. ( )
  annesadleir | Jan 17, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary Gentleprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Howe, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"My soul is among lions."

Psalms 57:4
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For Richard
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It was her scars that made her beautiful.
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Ash: A Secret History was published in the United States as four separate volumes: A Secret History, Carthage Ascendant, The Wild Machines, and Lost Burgundy.

PLEASE do not combine with A Secret History: The Book of Ash #1--these are not the same books!
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