Thursday, October 27, 2016

WRITTEN IN THE ASHES by K. Hollan Van Zandt

"Written in the Ashes is one of those rare novels that sets 'history' afire, to bathe readers in the glow of a greater, hotter truth. Fans of The Mists of Avalon will find this romantic/alchemical/feminist/spiritual epic equally captivating."—Tom Robbins, bestselling author of Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life and Villa Incognito
In the bloody clash between Christians and pagans in fifth-century Alexandria, a slave girl becomes the last hope for preserving peace in this evocative and thrilling tale reminiscent of The Mists of Avalon. A blend of history, adventure, religion, romance, and mysticism, this shares the untold story of the events that led to the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria.
After she is abducted from her home in the mountains of Sinai, Hannah is enslaved and taken to Alexandria, where she becomes the property of Alizar, an alchemist and pagan secretly working to preserve his culture. Revered for her beautiful singing voice, the young slave is invited to perform at the city's Great Library, where she becomes friends with the revered mathematician and philosopher, Hypatia, as well as other pagans who curate its magnificent collections. Determined to help them uphold pagan culture and traditions, Hannah embarks on a dangerous quest to unite the fractured pieces of the Emerald Tablet—the last hope to save the pagans and create peace.
On this odyssey that leads her to the lost oracles of Delfi and Amun-Ra and to rediscovered ancient cities and rituals, Hannah will experience forbidden loves, painful betrayals, and poignant reunions. But her efforts may be in vain. Returning to Alexandria, Hannah finds a city engulfed in violence, even as her own romantic entanglements come to a head. Now, it's not only her future, but the fate of all Alexandria that is at stake.


Alexandria in the 4th century was tumultuous period in history. Christians and Jews were persecuted and slavery abounded. Life was harsh and cruel. Many died cruel, torturous deaths. Danger was everywhere. The author did a fabulous job of capturing all the turmoil and violence, along with themes of love and survival. I loved the author's take on how the world came to worship and adore Mary, Christ's mother. 

I loved the female protaganist. She tread a fine line throughout, and faced numerous adversities. The tension culminates with the burning of the Alexandria's Great Library, a part of history I knew little about. Religions, politics, and mysticism Combine to give the reader a shapshot of what life was like in Alexandria in the centuries after Christ. Terrific historical fiction!

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