The Book of Ash by Mary Gentle (Book Review)

Ash: A Secret History (Book of Ash, #1-4)Ash: A Secret History by Mary Gentle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished my umpteenth reread of this series and realized I have never reviewed it. Perhaps because it’s simply too much awesome to review. I would give it 37 stars if I could.

This book has it all.

Magic, cleverly disguised as prayer, cleverly disguised as quantum physics.

Fantasy.

Medieval history.

Priests and prophets, saints and miracle-workers, slaves and mercenaries. Historians and archaeologists and physicists. Genetics. Movable realities.

The ruins of a Visigoth Carthage appearing off the North African coast, where countless previous surveys showed nothing. Ancient scholarly manuscripts magically recataloguing themselves in university libraries. A man missing for sixty years mysteriously turning up where he should have been the whole time.

Golem. How freaking cool are GOLEM?

Kickass female characters. Not kickass like being the most beautiful and pulling off the most politically advantageous marriage while having the best sex and wearing the most sumptuous gowns kind of kickass, but the command a mercenary army and wear custom-made Milanese plate armor and have your own warhorse and know how to take somebody’s head off with a poleax kind of kickass.

(Warning: The reality of war is gritty. Ash is a something of a politician but she is no lady, and says “fuck” a lot.)

The ending shatters me every time.

(For those intimidated by 1120-page books that can be used as doorstops, or who have bursitis and don’t want to lug around something big and heavy, my copy of this book is four normal-sized paperbacks: A Secret History, Carthage Ascendant, The Wild Machines, and Lost Burgundy. I love the cover artwork on my copies. All paper-and-glue editions are out of print, but they can be found used online. It’s also available for Kindle.)

Bookshelves: comfort-favorites, sci-fi, fantasy, mysticism, medieval-history, heroine-kicking-ass, action-with-a-body-count, grittiest-reality, this-is-the-stuff-right-here, war, women

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Author: Deborah Lee

I like trees, dreaming, magic, books, paper, floating, dreaming, rhinos, rocks, stargazing, wine, dragonflies, trains, and silence to hear the world breathe.

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