Mary Gentle's Ash kills her first man when she is eight, and at 20 is an experienced captain of mercenaries in the small wars of the late Middle Ages--but not quite the Middle Ages we know from history. The more scholar Piers Ratcliffe works on the evidence, the more knowledge and recorded history and the rules of evidence crumble under him--this world of Visigoths with ceramic robots and of the religion of the Green Christ is nothing he knows of. Ash hears voices, but not like those of Joan of Arc--voices that give her very specific advice about the winning of battles. Married against her will to a man who despises her, but whom she lusts after; finding that the Visigoth general is her twin; coping with the day-to-day problems of battle and siege and mayhem, Mary Gentle's Ash
is a magnificent creation. This long, passionate novel, blending historical fantasy with thoughtful speculative fiction, is as smart about the minutiae of medieval war-making and manners as it is about the wilder reaches of contemporary cosmology. --Roz Kaveney
A magnificent and gritty dream of the 15th Century: a stupendous canvas soaked in blood and magic and tears.