|'The Legends of Ashildr'|
‘Today is the day I should have died. Instead I was reborn. By my hero, a man called The Doctor.’
‘Ten thousand hours is all it takes to master any skill. Twenty thousand, and you’re the best in the world. Over a hundred thousand, and you’re the best there’s ever been.’
Ashildr, a young Viking girl, died helping the Doctor and Clara to save her village. Brought back to life by the Doctor using alien technology, she is now immortal – The Woman Who Lived.
Since then, Ashildr has kept journals, detailing her extraordinary life. 'The Legends of Ashildr' is a glimpse of some of those stories: the terrors she has faced, the battles she has won, and the treasures she has found.
These are tales of a woman who lived longer than she should ever have lived – and lost more than she can even remember.
‘The Arabian Knightmare’
by James Goss
The King of Samarkand has been married many times, but each of his wives lost their life once they failed to keep him entertained. While walking through the market one day, the much-widowed king encounters an intriguing woman known as the Lady Sherade, and he makes her his queen. The newly-married Sherade tells the king many stories: of the last voyage of Sinbad, a servant girl named Ash El Dir, the handsome prince Karim and the Wizard of Marabia, whose lives are inextricably bound by a mystical amulet and the search for the legendary city of Brass…
‘The Fortunate Isles’
by David Llewellyn
After stealing a valuable brooch from its owner in Seville, thief Ash stows away on a vessel bound for Italy to sell her ill-gotten gains to the Condoterrio in Pisa; unfortunately she is discovered by the ship’s captain, Lopez, and is about to be thrown overboard when she is saved by Garcia the physician, and put to work instead. The ship, the Galgo, is engaged in a race with a Genoese ship in the search for a western route for Asia; however, they soon come across the rival vessel, all its crew dead from plague except for one man, named Piero. Learning that the survivor carries a map to the Fortunate Isles, a legendary place of riches, Lopez decides to change course to seek fortune for himself, his crew and his king. After much searching they locate the island, where they find a wealth of jewels just lying around for the taking. As greed inevitably takes over the men of the landing party, they are attacked by vicious, dog-faced men, who slaughter everyone except Ash, Lopez and Garcia. Then Piero appears with an escort of the ceature, and reveals that he is a bookie from the far future: the island is really the Markaron, a time-travelling spaceship owned by Bet-Zone, where unwary travellers are subjected to a series of tests designed to expose their greed, so that thousands of clients can wager on their plight. Ash tries to make Lopez and Garcia cooperate in the lethal tests, but the captain’s greed overcomes him, and Garcia gives his life to save Ash. Lopez and Ash die in the next test, but to Piero’s surprise Ash returns to life and takes him captive. After returning to the Galgo with her hostage, Ash sets him free on the promise that he abandon his cruel entertainment and takes the Markaron away, never to return. Ash then returns to Seville with the surviving crew, and vanishes into history...
‘The Triple Knife’
by Jenny Colgan
Alys' lack of aging forces her to leave her husband behind in Marseilles, France, while she takes her three children to England. Arriving in Southampton, Alys, Essie, Rue and baby Johann take lodgings in a filthy room; they hear tales of plague, and encounter a strange man wearing a beaked mask, who calls himself a ‘scientist’. When one of her neighbours is stricken with plague, Alys is accused of bringing the disease across with her; she is taken prisoner by soldiers, imprisoned and tortured by an interrogator named Godfroi, a man who is weakening under the plague. Fearing for the lives of her untended children, Alys breaks free and takes Godfroi hostage. Returning to her new home, Alys is relieved to find her children apparently recovering from the plague. Realising that the Scientists are creatures from the stars, Alys asks them to take her and her family with them. Seeing an opportunity to conduct tests on new patients, the creatures agree; however, just as everyone is about to disembark in the aliens’ space ship Godfroi intervenes, grabbing Johann by the throat. To save her baby, Alys beheads Godfroi, but the situation causes the Scientists to re-evaluate their patients, and they realise that Johann still has the plague. As the creatures prepare to seize her baby, Alys slays one of them; its fellows warp up the body and then depart in their ship, leaving Alys behind with the knowledge that the plague was carried to England on the fleas infesting a rat that Essie befriended on the ship. Over the next few days Essie, Rue and Johann all perish from the plague; but Alys recovers, and she vows never to have children again…
‘The Ghosts of Branscombe Wood’
by Justin Richards
Arriving at Branscombe Wood, Ashildr chooses to take the short route through the woods rather than the long way around them. As she rides her horse down the path she meets a knight, who reminds her of someone she killed during the Battle of Agincourt; he warns her to take a different path, and then vanishes without a trace. Leaving the woods, Ashildr is welcomed by the citizens of a nearby village, who are amazed that she came through without harm; their head man explains that the wood is haunted, and any villager foolish enough to traverse it loses their mind from seeing their dead loved ones appear before them. Resolving to help, Ashildr persuades some of the braver villagers to walk the woods’ paths and note where they encountered a ghost. Identifying that the sightings form a circle, Ashildr leads a party to investigate its centre, but their ghostly encounters prove too much, and soon only Ashildr remains. Grief-stricken at seeing her dead children, Ashildr keeps going, and soon finds a metal castle - the remains of an ancient spaceship. Searching inside, Ashildr meets the ghostly knight, who transforms into a woman and explains that her purpose is to protect the crashed ship. When the ghost then transforms into all manner of people known to Ashildr - her father, her children, those she has been forced to slay - she panics and presses every control she can see, causing the ‘castle’ to shudder violently, and a countdown to sound out. Ashildr races for the way out, and only just gets clear as the ship tries in vain to take off, before exploding in a huge fireball. Returning to the village, Ashildr receives a warm welcome from the villagers, who no longer have to fear ghosts in Branscombe Wood; they offer her a place to stay, but Ashildr prefers to slip away in the night and continue her travels…
*A BBC Books novel