The Merlin of St. Gilles' Well is Book One of the Joan of Arc Tapestries--a new series in what you'd think would be a crowded fantasy subgenre. Surprisingly, fantastic treatments of this famous historical figure are pretty much confined to film. And Joan of Arc isn't actually a character in this book. The Merlin of St. Gilles' Well is a St. Joan novel in the same sense that Mary Stewart's classic The Crystal Cave is an Arthurian novel: both depict the early lives of the men and women (mostly men) who will foretell, instruct, and inspire the pivotal character appearing later in the series. Both novels also draw on Breton elements of the Arthurian mythos.|
Set in the early 1400s, The Merlin of St. Gilles' Well portrays the origins of Jean Le Drapier, a maimed Breton with powers that may rival Merlin's, and Gilles de Rais, the French nobleman who will one day fight heroically beside Joan and commit the sadistic murders that spawned the Bluebeard legend. The Merlin of St. Gilles' Well also depicts the deadly political struggles between the king and lords of France and (with far less historical basis) between the powerful Christian church and a coexisting underground Celtic paganism. This novel may annoy historical-fiction readers who demand characters with pure period mindsets, but it will please many fans of high fantasy, historical fantasy, alternate history, secret history, and Arthurian fiction.
Source: Cynthia Ward, Amazon.com.