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Ilario: The Lion's Eye (Gollancz S.F.) [Paperback]

Mary Gentle
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

13 Dec 2007 Gollancz S.F.
'We are so often a disappointment to the parents who abandon us . . . ' Ilario is born hermaphrodite, a true genetic chimera. Found abandoned on the steps of a chapel of the Green Christ, in one of the minor Iberian kingdoms, on a freezing snowy night, Ilario is fostered by Federico, an impoverished Iberian noble, who plans to gift Ilario to the king, hoping to gain favour at court. At the age of 15, Ilario joins King Roderigo as the King's Freak, but while learning the ways of the court, Illario has another lesson to study: abondonment and betrayal. For Rosamunda, Ilario's birth mother, has arrived - and the secret of Ilario's shameful birth must be kept hidden, lest the resulting scandal ruin Rosamunda's husband, Videric, the king's most powerful advisor. When Ilario is freed by the king, he/she is summoned by Rosamunda. And when her attempt to murder her child fails, Rosamunda whispers 'Run . . . ' And Ilario does . . . across the Mediterranean, to Carthage.

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Ilario: The Lion's Eye (Gollancz S.F.) + 1610: A Sundial In A Grave (GOLLANCZ S.F.)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New Ed edition (13 Dec 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575080418
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575080416
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 832,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"Ilario was born a functioning hermaphrodite, whose status in law and theology makes the protagonist of this action-packed, deeply intelligent novel a focus for intrigue, intellectual debate and a fair amount of polymorphous hot sexual action." (Roz Kaveney TIME OUT )<br /><br />"Gentle tells an absorbing tale, deftly swapping what was for what might have been." (Barbara Davies STARBURST )<br /><br />"When she's got you hooked, there's no beating Mary Gentle." (Rhianna Pratchett SFX )<br /><br />"Her characterisation and world building is so good that the story seems plausible. A welcome and enigmatic addition to a writer with vision who still has the power to shock and amaze." (SFFWORLD )<br /><br />"The extraordinary gender sensitivity and flexibility Ilario embodies, novel shades of sexuality at every turn, and new angles on plain old heterosexuality in the bargain - factor all that in, and Ilario is the foremost SF/fantasy novel of gender in quite a while." (Nick Gevers LOCUS ) --Time Out --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Mary Gentle is one of the world's most acclaimed writers of fantasy and science fiction; ASH, the largest single fantasy work ever - longer even than THE LORD OF THE RINGS - combines the authentic details of Bernard Cornwell and the magical storytelling of Terry Goodkind; all editions were Gollancz bestsellers. Mary has a number of academic degrees, including an MA in War Studies, and has hands-on experience of sword-fighting and armour, amongst many other useful talents. She lives in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More adventures in the un-world of ASH 20 Feb 2007
By Mark Shackelford TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Mary Gentle's ASH [6 stars] is one of my favourite alternative history books, and this new book "Ilario" is set in the same off-shoot of reality. A strange sunless sky, the "Penitence" - an unexplained darkness - hovers over Carthage, there is no Pope in Rome and Golems (clay robots) are plodding around.

The hero(ine) of the story is a hermaphrodite, and there are plenty of occasions when this "affliction" enlivens the tale, but essentially this is a glorious romp through an imaginary (but very real) middle ages - as Ilario follows his/her quest to become a famous painter (and along the way avoid being killed by virtually every other character.

Great fun, rude in parts (yes, those parts), and beautifully written - it is a great follow-up to ASH... I look forward to the next bizarre installment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A novel in two parts 20 Nov 2009
If you are looking at the book with the red cover, this contains both The Lion's Eye and The Stone Golem. If you are looking at the book with the hooded figure on the cover, this is the American edition, which was published in two parts, and is thus only part 1 of the novel. You'll need to buy The Stone Golem too to get the whole story.

It is a good one, but not for the squeamish! I can understand the negative reactions to this book, even while I myself enjoyed it greatly. The setting had a lot to do with that; we learn more about the world Gentle introduced in Ash.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not her best book by some way 16 May 2009
If you are new to the work of Mary Gently, this is probably not the best book to start with. A much better choice would be Ash: A Secret History or 1610: A Sundial In A Grave (Gollancz S.F.). This book takes us back to the world of Ash, but it is a disappointment.

The problem is that it's just too slow and wanders around here and there aimlessly while nothing much happens. You get to visit a few more of the lands around the Mediterranean in this alternative world, but it is pretty dull for the most part. Eventually the book limps to a rather unsatisfying halt as if Ms Gentle just ran out of steam.

So I would say this one is for dedicated fans of Ash who want to learn a bit more about the geography of that world. Anyone else, prepare to be bored long before you reach the end.
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I got this for 1. and given i've actually read the thing (an impressive feat given its length) I think it's a pretty rich book.
it's TOO LONG, but the dialogue is pretty honest between the main characters as Ilario tries to slalom between different political allies and people trying to kill "hir" while maintaining the stubborn desire to paint stuff.
Anyone whose ever been questioned, critised, challenged about their gender or if they bring shame upon their family would do well to read this book. Because for the first time in a long time I have a number of characters (not just Ilario) who are present in fiction who aren't just two-dimensional stereotypes there to act as distractions for the WASP protagonist. These are real people trying to live their lives in any way they can. Such honesty in such a subject is extremely rare outside of the LGBT genre, and wonderfully refreshing for those who can relate to what the characters endure.
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