Readers may be surprised to learn that, despite writing Science Fiction Romance, I have always had an interest in Ancient Egypt so I was delighted to have the chance to read and review 'Written in the Ashes' by K Hollan Van Zandt and am delighted to welcome her to my blog today.
Publisher: Harper Collins (Sept. 27, 2016 Category: Historical Fiction, Tour Dates: October/November, 2016 ASIN: B01CY3A8X4
Available in: ebook, 554Pages "
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, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues. and Villa Incognito
In the bloody clash between Christians and pagans in fifth-century Alexandria, a servant girl becomes the last hope for preserving peace in this evocative and thrilling tale—a blend of history, adventure, religion, romance, and mysticism reminiscent of The Mists of Avalon.
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.
I found this an amazing book to read - not only for the story, which drew me in and kept me turning the pages, but for the wealth of description and history that was portrayed. I learnt far more about Ancient Egypt, with which I have always had a fascination, than I ever did from text books. Yes, some of the events in the book are romanticised, but the author does not balk at showing us the bloody and vicious side of the history of this period as well. I felt as if I had journeyed back in time. I liked the heroine, Hannah, the slave girl viciously snatched away from her home and father by the slave traders, and the way she grew and developed as the story progressed. Not only was she beautiful and quick witted, with a lovely singing voice, but she became a strong and determined woman, like the fabled philosopher, Hipatia, who, in this book, the author restores to her rightful place in history. Hipatia's conclusions from her research of Mary, the mother of Christ, was fascinating, and the tragic, wanton burning of the great library at Alexandria was vividly portrayed
The beautiful descriptions made me envisage the buildings and landscapes as if I were watching them in a film, and the romance is lightly and sensitively handled. I am full of admiration for the amount of research the author must have put in to make this historical account come alive. I can highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a novel about ancient civilisations, which is told through a story that has realistic, easy to relate to characters, and plenty of action as well as a light smattering of romance.
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
Thank you, Kaia, that was fascinating! I think most of us aspire to creating the 'mystic' heroine, whether we realise it or not! Speaking personally I love creating (and reading about) a heroine who is strong enough to look after herself, but still feminine and sensitive. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us, and wishing you even more success in the future.
Praise for Written In the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt“In her captivating debut novel, Written in the Ashes, K. Hollan Van Zandt brings to life a fascinating and forgotten woman of history: Hypatia of Alexandria, who may have been one of the greatest female minds of all time. If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to walk the streets of long ago Egypt, then look no further. You will be enthralled!”– Michelle Moran, international bestselling author of Nefertiti and Cleopatra’s Daughter
“Van Zandt’s vivid description of the Great Library instantly transported me to a lush fifth century Alexandria. Her lyrical writing style and breakneck storytelling kept me riveted to the very last page.”– Robin Maxwell bestselling author of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn and Signora da Vinci.
"Going back so far in time leaves an author with little written record to rely on for fact. The burning of the Great Library at Alexandria was a monumental loss to humanity. The facts of the matter aside, this novel was truly arresting and I had a hard time putting it down to get anything done. Ancient history fascinates me. Religion fascinates me. This book manages to tie both together in a story that resonates through time. The book was fascinating. The characters were well developed and I really didn't want to leave this world of ancient Alexandria. The imaginary, magical priests and the beautiful goddesses created by Ms. Van Zandt lent themselves to a mystical world that was quite believable within its context. As the story unfolded I was rooting for Hannah to fulfill her destiny and find peace with her past. I am looking forward to the next chapters in these characters lives."-Patty Woodland, Broken Teepee
Kaia Van Zandt is a celebrated author and teacher whose novel, Written in the Ashes, chronicles the events that led up to the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria, Egypt. Kaia’s spiritual journey began at age 14 when she founded the youth division of the Humane Society of the United States. Then as a junior in high school, she traveled to the Earth Summit in Brazil, where she taught meditation, and was given the opportunity to work with world leaders on the challenges facing humanity and the planet today, an experience that profoundly influenced her work. She’s a graduate of Antioch University, where she focused on the intersection between the ancient Goddess traditions and modern culture. Her fascination with healing-both personally and collectively – led her to yoga. During her career she’s worked with thought leaders like Marci Shimoff and Deepak Chopra, actors like Ashley Judd, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Garry Shandling, as well as Sony ImageWorks, UCLA Medical, and the San Francisco 49ers. Her beloved writing mentor is bestselling novelist/humorist, Tom Robbins.
Website: www.kaiavanzandt.comFacebook: https://business.facebook.com/Kaia-H-Van-Zandt-62326196268/?business_id=1527166044253916 Twitter: https://twitter.com/KaiaVanZandt Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kaiavanzandt/?hl=en YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbpNRBX9k7z1bJndQ2a4Rgg
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