In the winter of 1429 a young peasant gift from the French village of Domremy sets off to do the unthinkable: to lead an army that will wrest the throne from the Britisher who rules France and restore it to the French dauphin, Charles, in the process ending the bloody Hundred Years War. Jeanne d'Arc's story is told by Gabrielle, a girl learning the art of healing and midwifery. Gabrielle joins the Maid, as Jeanne is called, because her skills are desperately needed on the battlefield. Disguised as a lad, she observes Jeanne's successes and the ultimate treachery that result in her death at the stake for heresy. Not just another retelling of a familiar episode--in the hands of Garden (Lark in the Morning, 1991, etc.) the entire historical period comes brilliantly alive. The pert and plucky Gabrielle delivers readers into a peaceful village life and then vividly summons the carnage of war. In the process, she grows up too soon, just as the Maid dies too young. In a season of plenty for fine historical fiction, Garden's gripping, gritty tale ranks as one of the best.