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Posted November 16, 2013
Posted July 31, 2013
What an engaging story! I was drawn into the world that E. C. Ambrose has created from the first page and was sorry to have to say goodbye as I read the last words.
The story begins with a death, actually two deaths and then another one. And then a man confessing to a murder he didn't do so that the man who did do it can be buried in holy ground. The confessed murderer agrees to treat casualties at a local war, to escape his death sentence. And then it gets really bloody. Just another day in medieval England, yes? Not exactly. In this version of history, witches who are burned at the stake sometimes turn into angels who bless small children and mark them forever. One such child, Elisha, grew up to be a barber, so he could help the next angel he should happen to meet. Oh, and help his fellow man as well, along the way. He is also the man who witnessed the two deaths and confessed to murdering his brother, to conceal that his brother had killed himself. And, most importantly, he is the man who, as the story progresses, discovers that not only are there angels all around him, though they call themselves magi, he is one himself. Ambrose does an excellent job of conveying the true grit of life behind the scenes of a medieval battle, with all the blood and saws and cauteries that are a very real part of that life. She also convincingly creates a magical system that works with Elisha's barbering skills to save lives and change futures.
Elisha Barber is very talented at healing, but is also very talented at getting himself into trouble. He has a tendency to say things to the wrong people or not say things when he should or, well just a whole set of missteps that lead him to be whipped, branded, and even hung. But he just keeps plugging along, somehow surviving all that happens and healing all he meets, both physically and spiritually.
This is the first book in what is hoped to be a long saga about Elisha Barber, a magical, talented man who seems determined to get himself killed in every chapter.
Posted July 31, 2013
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.