Written In The Ashes

Written In The Ashes

by K. Hollan Van Zandt


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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. . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781452535159
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publication date: 07/06/2011
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.13(d)

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Written in the Ashes 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
DanaBurgess on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fans of historical fiction take note: you are going to want to head to your closest book store, amazon or wherever you get your books and pick this one up! Why, you ask? Here's why: Set in Alexandria and the story is intricately woven together with the workings of the Great Library of Alexandria. Strong, beautiful female protagonist. Quests Action Nasty bad guys Hot male protagonists. Romance, Love and Passion The little angel - who was in my heart from the very beginning.I have only one bad thing to say about K. Hollan Van Zandt's amazing novel - it is the first of a series and I now have to wait for the second instalment!! ARG!! I hope it comes out soon!
RivkaBelle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Review originally published at my blog: AWordsWorth.blogspot.comeBook provided by author for review.Hannah is a Jewish shepherdess, roaming the wilds of Sinai with her father, until her world is shattered by slave traders one night. Sold to a prestigious - and merciful - family in Alexandria, Hannah struggles to regain interest and enthusiasm for life, bearing scars on her body and her heart. As time begins to heal her wounds, Hannah finds her new life to be one of surprises. From private tutoring in the Library of Alexandria, to finding a strangely patched-together new 'family' in her master's house, Hannah slowly settles into her life. But these are uneasy times, and nothing is permanent. Nothing is safe - not even life. Relations between the Bishop in Alexandria, Cyril, and the "traditional" population are tense and volatile. The Library itself is threatened, and anyone deemed in cahoots with "the pagan enemy" is placed on a watch list, or "questioned" as a preemptive measure. This is Hannah's new reality, and she finds herself playing a surprising role in the bloody 'negotiations.'The story is engrossing. It's rough and brutal - very blunt, a little gory. It's not a light read, and if you're particularly sensitive some scenes could be disturbingly harsh. I loved the characters - Hannah stole my heart from the very beginning, still out on the plains of Sinai, and as I met new characters, I forged new alliances, even as she did. It's a detailed story, rich in ideas and images. The Library at Alexandria has long captured my imagination, as a librarian and as a story-loving history geek, and to read about its struggle for survival, to get a glimpse into how things could have been - it's beautiful, even as it's heart-wrenching. I feel as though I've learned much about Alexandria, the crossroads of culture and religion, the struggle to orient in a changing world. Written in the Ashes is a sweeping story to enjoy, but also one to think about. To pause and consider, to look at this particular presentation of the "ancient world" - and see how it reflects humanity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LiveInColourReviews More than 1 year ago
I love history, and for that reason I enjoy historical fiction. This book is an excellent fictionalization of Ancient Egyptian life in the early beginnings of Christianity. I've read, not extensively, about the character based on historic figures and I believe Ms. Van Zandt did a tasteful retelling of their stories. I thought that it would take me a while to get into the story but within just a few minutes I easily slipped into the world she created. It's a masterful retelling of history through the eyes of a believable female protagonist. Hannah is resilient. She's genuine. She is quite possibly one of the best female protagonists I've read in quite some time. I would absolutely recommend this novel to any and everyone. It's worth the read. Enjoy!
JBronder More than 1 year ago
Hannah is a Jewish girl that is out with her father trying to find a new home for her family and their sheep. One night she is discovered, kidnapped, abused, and taken to Alexandria to be auctioned off as a slave. She is then discovered by Alizar, an alchemist and secret pagan that is trying to preserve the pagan history. He gives Hannah the opportunity to earn her freedom by being sent to the Great Library to work with Hypatia, the librarian, to learn and help preserve history. But the bishop Cyril is bound and determined to stop Hannah and Hypatia from spreading their religion. This book takes place when Christianity is starting to be the main religion and is trying to eliminate the pagan beliefs. Hannah has a rough start in this story but she is a strong woman and has a great destiny trying to preserve knowledge. Being there when the library burned just touched me, just thinking about all that knowledge lost is such a horrible thing to have happen. This is a fictionalized account of history. Since I don’t really have much experience with the history of the area and time period it was easy for me to just slip into the story. I don’t how the real history but I do think that is was executed well in Written in the Ashes. This is a great story and will be one that I keep. I am curious to see what else K. Hollan Van Zandt will come up with next. I received Written in the Ashes from Teddy at Virtual Author Book Tours for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.
ruthhill74 More than 1 year ago
This is the first time I have ever read a book that takes place during the 400's, and it was definitely a well-written, well-researched book. I was impressed with the scholarship and research that was displayed in the book, and I came to love a good share of the characters. The story had a plethora of dramatic components, and very often I found myself either drawn in or repulsed. And I loved the strength of the women in these books--unusual for this time period, or so I thought! I was quite impressed with the realistic elements and description the author included in the book. I never felt that the book was too violent or gory, but there were moments that I was glad I was not watching a video. I found myself talking with others about the horrible punishments and deaths recorded in the book, and I marveled at the fact that much of the historical information was unfamiliar to me. Why had I never heard of the Jews being slaughtered during the 400's in Alexandria? That is the key right there--I know very little (if anything) of Eastern history. I only know marginally more when it comes to Western history. It amazes me how many things we do not teach students! I found the author's description of the Christian religion quite intriguing and entirely accurate--unfortunately. And we wonder why the world hates and distrusts Christians! I always hate to see what people who have claimed my faith have done in the name of Christ! And the author's story of how the worship of Mary came about was fascinating--trust or not, it was plausible. As much as I liked a lot of this book, I am afraid I do have a few criticisms. I will not be criticizing bedroom scenes--they were not detailed nor offensive. The language in the book was acceptable, but I would have preferred not reading slang terms for bodily functions--I did not feel that was appropriate for a book of this calibre, but that is just my opinion. I also did not like the parts that seemed to imply that the gods and goddesses were real. I don't want to give anything away, but at times I struggled to tell the difference between reality and fable. I am not well-versed in the portion of history, but I sometimes felt this story revered the pagan beliefs over anything else. I also had another pet peeve. Whenever the author got to a transition, the word "so" appeared. I found this annoying after a while. Sometimes I felt there was too much description. But all that is just my opinion. In fact, all of my criticisms are just that--my opinion. I have given this book a 4-star rating. I loved the first section, did not care for the second section, but basically enjoyed the final section. I am not saying I definitely would not read a sequel--second books are often better than firsts--but it would not be on top of my "to do" list. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I was not financially compensated in any way, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
Way back in the Dark Ages when I was a teenager, I fell in love with history and, in particular, with the ancient lands of Egypt, Greece, Italy, Britain, etc. I seriously considered going into archaeology as a career but, fortunately, I figured out early on that I’m a couch potato at heart and really not cut out for all that sweat and hard work. Despite that setback, I’ve never lost my love for those places and their stories. Then, in 1989, I had the great good fortune to go with my younger daughter to visit my older daughter who was studying in Greece. We did the tourist thing in Greece and then went on to Egypt. I don’t expect to ever again experience anything like it and that wonderful trip confirmed my belief that those two countries, in particular, have history that’s magical. That magic is what the reader finds in Written in the Ashes. From my first introduction to Hannah, I was captivated by her and by what happens to her, and she became a very real person in my imagination. I could feel her emotions, her fear, her strength. I could once again experience the heat, the red dust, the intense sun, the incredibly blue sky, the sense of being in a place that would have an immense effect on the rest of humanity for eons to come. And Hypatia—what an incredible woman she is in the author’s hands and must have been in real life. To think that she played such an integral role at a time when religions and the empire were in great turmoil, a time when an intelligent woman was looked upon with suspicion and distrust, is mesmerizing. These two very different women and the secondary characters that touch their lives for good or bad, bring to life the story of what happened in Alexandria and the massive changes that occurred in the religious world of the 5th century. Whether the reader is Christian or Jewish or pagan or of any other belief—or even atheistic—really doesn’t matter because we all live today with the ramifications of those events. Ms. Van Zandt has done a masterful job of creating a compelling and absorbing story around a fascinating piece of history. Ms. Van Zandt is also to be commended for her meticulous research but, most of all, for her flowing, striking prose that frequently caught my breath; I’d find myself re-reading passages just to see if they sounded the same a second time. (Hint: they did and, sometimes, were even better.) I really do hope this author will offer us either a sequel or another novel entirely without making us wait too long. One note of caution for those readers who are easily offended—while you’ll find love and excitement and danger and even a little humor, the author does not hold back when it comes to scenes of violence and abuse and I applaud her for that. After all, slavery, rape, murder, arson and mob behavior are all about brutality and should be portrayed accordingly, but I highly recommend Written in the Ashes for any reader who enjoys tales from our past that are grounded in truth and written in beauty.
LetsBookIt More than 1 year ago
Fans of historical fiction take note: you are going to want to head to your closest book store, amazon or wherever you get your books and pick this one up! Why, you ask? Here's why: Set in Alexandria and the story is intricately woven together with the workings of the Great Library of Alexandria. Strong, beautiful female protagonist. Quests Action Nasty bad guys Hot male protagonists. Romance, Love and Passion The little angel - who was in my heart from the very beginning. I have only one bad thing to say about K. Hollan Van Zandt's amazing novel - it is the first of a series and I now have to wait for the second instalment!! ARG!! I hope it comes out soon!