(1956 - ) is an excellent science fiction
and fantasy author
. She lives and works in the UK
Mary Gentle is known for writing straightforward, uncompromising prose. She is not afraid to hurt the characters you will grow to love, and not afraid to describe the ugly side of medieval life and war. Because of this, she is often read by fans of George R. R. Martin's "A Game of Thrones" and sequels.
In sharp contrast with this, Gentle is also an accomplished scholar. She has described herself as "an avid collector of university degrees". She acquired an MA in War Studies as part of the writing process of "Ash: A Secret History".
Gentle's first major work is the Orthe sequence - "Golden Witchbreed" (1983) and "Ancient Light" (1987). Despite the fantasy-ring of the first title, this is an SF work, more specifically a planetary romance.
The second series Gentle is known for is the White Crow sequence: "Rats and Gargoyles" (1990), "The Architecture of Desire" (1991), and some short stories. This is a fantasy series with strong references to Michael Moorcock's idea of the "multiverse".
Another interesting work by Gentle is "Grunts!" (1992) - a description of the traditional "good vs. evil" fantasy theme, but seen from the point of view of the orcs. Gentle also collaborated with Neil Gaiman on "The Weerde", a series of three "shared world" anthologies
Last but definitely not least, Gentle recently finished "Ash: A Secret History" (2000), an excellent combination of alternate history and fantasy, maybe one of the strongest fantasy novels I personally ever read. The novel describes the life of Ash, a young mercenary leader with strong similarities to Joan of Arc. The US edition of this novel is split in 4 separate volumes, whereas the UK edition is one huge tome of 1100 pages.