An Army of Angels

A novel of Joan of Arc

by Pamela Marcantel

St. Martin's Press

It is a story that everyone knows; the story of the French peasant maid who successfully led an army against England and was burned at the stake before she was twenty. Historians, playwrights, filmmakers have all tried to imagine what Joan's life must have been like, but none has succeeded more brilliantly than Pamela Marcantel does in her dazzling first novel.

Here, in dramatic, richly imagined detail, is the full story of the peasant Jhanette, who at the age of thirteen visited by Saint Michel and told that she will be known to history as Jehanne the Maid, the girl who saves France from the English. Jehanne worries about her physical bravery and her ability to lead soldiers in battle, but the hardest aspect of her task turns out to be proving herself the Chosen of God, over and over and over again: to Dauphin, to her soldiers, to the Church, and even to herself.

Marcantel paints a fascinating portrait of medieval Europe; of a world where no one questions whether Jehanne hears voices, merely whether they are of God or the Devil; of a world where religious faith and politics are intricately intertwined; of a world where an illiterate girl, believed to be chosen by God, rides to battle as head of an army. Marcantel's Jehanne is no plaster saint, but a young woman who has trouble controlling her temper; who is bluntly outspoken when tact would avail her better; who fears the terrible price she will have to pay for the war her Counsel tells her to fight ; but does not turn back.

After more than five hundred years, Joan of Arc lives again in Marcantel's hypnotic blend of history and storytelling.

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