It's hard to know just what to make of Mark Twain's Joan of Arc. Twain was an unbeliever who disliked patriotism and war, and hated the medieval period with its monarchy and feudalism and frequently mocked attempts to romanticize it (in, for instance, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, and even, to a lesser extent, in The Prince and the Pauper). And yet he clearly idolized the devoutly faithful, patriotic, king-crowning general Joan of Arc. Huh?But in the preface, Twain specifies the quality in her which he found fundamentally worthy of admiration: "She was perhaps the only entirely unselfish person whose name has a place in profane history." And he stresses this theme throughout the book. I guess it doesn't matter if she devotes her life to ideals which Twain was given to regularly skewering, just so long as she wasn't so profane as to ever do anything for herself.Still, there are some indications that perhaps some of this should be taken with a grain of salt, as when the narrator tells of a dragon that lived in the woods near their childhood village: "It was thought that this dragon was of a brilliant blue colour, with gold mottlings, but no one had ever seen it, therefore this was not known to be so, it was only an opinion. It was not my opinion; I think there is no sense in forming an opinion when there is no evidence to form it on. If you build a person without any bones in him, he may look fair enough to the eye, but he will be limber and cannot stand up; and I consider that evidence is the bones of an opinion. But I will take up this matter more at large at another time, and try to make the justness of my position appear. As to that dragon, I always held the belief that its colour was gold and without blue, for that has always been the colour of dragons."The narrator, as well as a couple of other characters in Joan's personal retinue, especially the Paladin and Noël Rainguesson, also provide some comic relief. Unfortunately, some of this seems to have little to do with Joan's story, and seems to be included just to allow Twain to write in his more natural comedic style for a while. And some of the recurring jokes---about the Paladin's wild exaggerations of his feats of arms, for example---become a bit redundant.The main storyline about Joan suffers from occasional repetitiousness as well. Much of the book seems to be: Joan makes impossible prediction, prediction is fulfilled, everyone is amazed...Joan goes on to make even more wonderful prophecy, everyone is again astonished when it too comes to pass...etc., etc. But when that's not going on, the more credible events of Joan's life are quite fascinating. The story of a young peasant girl who rises to command armies to defend her homeland naturally evokes much admiration and pathos, and Twain might have been better off laying more stress on that aspect of it. But he does, to some extent, in the final part of the book about Joan's trial and execution, which is where everything really comes together.