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Elisha Barber: (Book One of the Dark Apostle) [Mass Market Paperback]

E. C. Ambrose
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Daw Books (3 Jun 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756408369
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756408367
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Elisha Barber is a blend of historical fiction, fantasy and medical thriller set in 14th-century England. Elisha Barber is a medieval barber-surgeon who is forced to go and work as a medic on the bloody battlefield of an inequitable war. When a seductive young witch lures him into her world of sorcery, Elisha must untangle certain magical threads as well as accept the discovery of his new powers.

I found this first tale of the Dark Apostle series well written. The lead character, Elisha Barber, is a well-developed, dark protagonist, a man full of flaws but whose heart is in the right place. Through the eyes of Elisha, the author explores the occupation of the medieval barber, which involved hair-cutting, beard-trimming, and basic medical treatment. Through her extensive research, the author vividly brings to life the medieval battlefield, the wounds and the rudimentary surgical treatments of the Middle Ages. The horrors, the grime and the stink also spring from every page.

I did have one minor reservation about the beginning of the story. Elisha's actions do not seem deserving of the heavy guilt he bears. Thus, his reasons for accepting his fate as a battlefield surgeon, to atone for these actions, do not seem entirely feasible. Despite this, I found the story entertaining, and although the supporting cast remains largely one-dimensional, I am sure lovers of dark historical fantasy will enjoy Elisha Barber.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Gritty Historical Fantasy 22 Aug 2013
By Beth L. Cato - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a teenager, I was obsessed with the medieval period. In recent years, it hasn't attracted me as much--so many books repeat the same themes and decades. This book reminded me of how awesome well-written medieval fiction can be, in part because it hit on another one of my major obsessions: healers. Usually they are utilized as handy side characters, patching up the hero when in need. Not so here. Ambrose explores the occupation of the medieval barber, a multitasking field that involves hair-cutting, beard-trimming, and all your down-and-dirty doctoring needs.

Elisha is a dark and gritty protagonist. He's not some squeaky-clean goody-two-shoes. He's a damaged man who shares a house with his brother and his wife, and hasn't spoken to either in two years. He tends to the medical needs of a street of brothels. He's closed off emotionally. However, his heart is in the right place, and he has a healer's touch and intuition.

There's a touch of realism to the events. It truly feels like Ambrose researched the medieval battlefield, the injuries, and the crude surgical methods of the time period. The magical element isn't all lights and glitter; no, it's as down-and-dirty as the mud of the battlefield.

I immensely enjoyed the book. It just brings so many fabulous elements together--a medical lead character, an unglamorous and real setting, and a magical system that brings chaos and wonder to the plot. I definitely want to read more books in this series as they are released.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even without the fantasy, it would be a great read 31 July 2013
By ExpatMaineBoy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
By page five, when the protagonist is rushing to a fourteenth-century hellish hospital to try to save the lives of his sister in-law and her unborn child, I was hooked. Then it got better.

"Elisha Barber," first in Ambrose's "Dark Apostle" series, is a fantasy that doesn't rely on the fantastic to appeal. The author did his/her research and brought the stench, horror, grime, and blood of the middle ages back to life on every page. It wasn't a nice time, but Ambrose's hero -- a mostly self-trained EMT (of the day) -- is doing what he can to help people survive.

"Elisha Barber" is historical fiction. "Elisha Barber" is a medical thriller. "Elisha Barber" is a study in family guilt. And, oh yeah, "Elisha Barber" is a page-turner of a fantasy novel.

Get it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Gritty Book with a Tortured Main Character 9 Sep 2013
By Mic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
**Spoiler**This book was well-written; however, there were two things that I found frustrating while reading it. First, the main character, Elisha, seems to hold a lot of guilt for something which I felt was not deserving of it to the extent portrayed in the book. He made an inappropriate proposition to the future wife of his brother to test the truth of her love for him since he was concerned that his brother was being used. Once he realized he was wrong, he apologized. He is not forgiven. To alleviate his guilt, he feels he must atone for his supposedly inexcusable mistake which he believes resulted in the deaths of both his brother and nephew. To me, his sense of responsibility for the deaths seems overly dramatic and misplaced; however, I can understand how the author needed something to serve as a catalyst for the future actions of the main character. Still, I don't believe the action committed supported the level of guilt felt by the main character.

Second, he quickly falls in love with a woman that ends up betraying him and he simply accepts her betrayal as if he can do nothing else since he loves her. I think that his reaction to being used by the woman he is supposed to love was somewhat lacking in emotion and flat. Personally, I believe that the main reason he feels so strongly for her is because she looks like the witch that had such a significant impact on his life when he was a child, otherwise, his feelings for her seem almost incomprehensible.

Regardless, I liked the book and found it to be entertaining.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eli 26 Aug 2013
By danprin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
After the first chapter, I almost gave up, boy, I'm glad I didn't. Its one of those books that grab you, and when you put it down, you cant stop thinking about it, until you pick it up again
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark medieval fantasy 6 July 2013
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Elisha Barber
E.C. Ambrose
DAW, Jul 2 2013, $25.95
ISBN 9780756408350

Elisa Barber is shaving a customer when his estranged brother Nathaniel arrives. His sibling explains that the midwife sent his wife Helena to the hospital because the baby became wedged. Irate at his sibling for allowing his anger at Elisha preventing Nathaniel from coming to him, the barber-surgeon says hospitals are deadly. He hopes to remove Helena in time and deliver the baby while unlike physician who plans to save the unborn at the expense of the mother; Eli tries to keep both alive. He fails as mother and daughter died, and Nathaniel commits suicide using Barber's razor. Stunned he says he killed them all.

To insure his brother is buried on sacred grounds, Elisha accepts the constable's accusation of fratricide. Though he willingly accepts his guilt for the deaths, Barber flees by joining the royal military laying siege to the Duke of Dunbury's castle. His job is a combat field medic working on wounds and when necessary amputating limbs. Upon meeting Brigit the herbalist, Elisha learns he is an untrained magus.

The first tale of the Dark Apostle medieval fantasy is an exciting fourteenth century thriller. The protagonist is a fully developed fascinating lead who applies advanced (centuries ahead of his time) medical thinking though ironically saving lives and body parts gets him into trouble with the unenlightened; as England is vividly described as a grim nation. Although the support cast never comes across as three dimensional, readers will appreciate E.C. Ambrose's extremely dark historical fantasy.

Harriet Klausner
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