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Marilee J. Layman

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03:42 pm: A Secret History: The Book of Ash #1 by Mary Gentle
LJ was stopped when I planned to report on this yesterday and I forgot to do it when LJ started up again. I actually have had these books since Mary and I were both on rasfc, but am just getting to them.

Mary always said that most people didn't read the interleaved material and thought it was fantasy. If you read the entire book, you find out it's SF. There's really four layers of material:

1. The translations of the old documents.

2. The interleaved material which is email between the author/translator and his editor.

3. The person who found the translations with the interleaved material.

4. Us, actually reading.

The translations are from the 15th century, where an unknown land is fought over by people that are not in our history. The translator is sure this is new history, something that will bring him fame, particularly because the stories are about Ash, a female mercenary commander, and her exploits. But if you read the interleaved material, you find things are not quite what they seem.

I usually have trouble reading battle text and just skim or skip, but Mary made me sit partly up in bed, pulled by the words. Not just the short phrases and rhythm, but the way the words moved with each other. This has never happened before. The entire book pulled me along and I happily started Book 2 last night.

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From:autopope
Date:June 26th, 2009 07:44 pm (UTC)
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If you're reading ASH, it's worth noting that it was written (and published in the UK) as a single novel. You've got book #2, which is good -- but don't be tempted to put off books #3 and #4!
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From:mjlayman
Date:June 26th, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)
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I meant to say that! Yes, I have 3 and 4 on the same shelf of the bookcase headboard. I can't imagine being able to read it in bed as one piece.
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From:soon_lee
Date:June 27th, 2009 05:08 am (UTC)
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Ah. I've read it as a single volume & was confused by the reference to it as a series.
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From:heleninwales
Date:June 27th, 2009 11:44 am (UTC)
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That is the downside of having it all in one volume!

I'm currently having the same problem with an omnibus edition of all the Richard Hanny stories. It is like a brick.
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From:mjlayman
Date:June 27th, 2009 06:27 pm (UTC)
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Yes, and although I don't know the cost comparison in buying it in parts and as one, I'd still rather have parts!
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
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From:mjlayman
Date:June 27th, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC)
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I'm not sure how available it is here now, and I promised Cyndi she could borrow/take, depending how I felt about them, when I finished. That was a couple years ago. Then again, she may read them sooner. I have two ARCs from the follow-on book(s).
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From:nojay
Date:June 27th, 2009 10:14 pm (UTC)
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Don't know if you noticed but "ASH" is the acronym for "A Secret History".
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From:mjlayman
Date:June 27th, 2009 10:25 pm (UTC)
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I didn't, but the other three US books don't acronym like that.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:July 4th, 2009 09:18 am (UTC)
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What I found interesting was the way it began as a secret history then rapidly slid through alternate history, into fantasy and then out the other side into SF.

Plus everything else about the book as the whole thing is interesting; I found that it read much faster than a 1200-ish page brick ought to.

Neil Willcox
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