Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Written in Ashes Book Tour

Who burned the Great Library of Alexandria? When the Roman Empire collapses in the 5th century, the city of Alexandria, Egypt is plagued with unrest. Paganism is declared punishable by death and the populace splinters in religious upheaval.

Hannah, a beautiful Jewish shepherd girl is abducted from her home in the mountains of Sinai and sold as a slave in Alexandria to Alizar, an alchemist and successful vintner. Her rapturous singing voice destines her to become the most celebrated bard in the Great Library. Meanwhile, the city’s bishop, Cyril, rises in power as his priests roam the streets persecuting the pagans. But while most citizens submit, a small resistance fights for justice. Hypatia, the library’s charismatic headmistress, summons her allies to protect the world’s knowledge from the escalating violence.

Risking his life, his family, and his hard-earned fortune, Alizar leads the conspiracy by secretly copying the library’s treasured manuscripts and smuggling them to safety. When Hannah becomes the bishop’s target, she is sequestered across the harbor in the Temple of Isis. But an ancient ceremonial rite between a monk and priestess inside the Pharos lighthouse ignites a forbidden passion.

Torn between the men she loves, Hannah must undertake a quest to the lost oracles of Delfi and Amun-Ra to find the one thing powerful enough to protect the pagans: The Emerald Tablet. Meanwhile, the Christians siege the city, exile the Jews, and fight the dwindling pagan resistance as the Great Library crumbles. But not everything is lost…

Written in the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt is an intriguing read. Elegant prose lines the pages of this epic novel. The story takes place in 5th century Alexandria where Greek, Roman, and Egyptian culture converges and clashes. At the heart of the story is a young shepherd girl named Hannah who is abducted and sold into slavery. Born with a splendid voice, her singing raises her from the dark side of slavery and sends her into the Great Library of Alexandria as a student and performer.

This novel has much going for it. There is fascinating history, an adventurous quest for a lost tablet, romance, a touch of mystery, myth, and magic, and some powerful female characters. I enjoyed the elegant prose and the ability of the author to weave a good tale with plenty of plot twists to keep the reader interested. At times, the pace did slow a little, likely due to the amount of detail provided, but the interesting storyline held me and kept me reading to the end. Hypathia, a true historical figure of the times, plays a role in the story, as does the lost Great Library of Alexandria, a mystery, which exists to this day.

I offer high praise to the author for doing a spectacular job recreating a long lost era with a flair for intricate details and a rich plot. The story was interesting and I enjoyed the elements of magic and mysticism woven into the story. The novel is quite ambitious and therefore required a strong focus and concentration while reading. There is much taking place and this book will provide hours of entertainment and a bit of learning about an era long forgotten. Definitely recommended for those who love ancient eras.  

From History and Women


Teddy Rose said...

Thanks for taking part in the tour. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book!

Barbara said...

Ooooooo. This sounds lush, complicated and beautiful! I especially LOVE everything about Alexandria during the time just before and after the library burned down. Thanks for this, Mirella!!!