Monday, May 28, 2012

Blog Tour: Written in the Ashes by K. Hollan VanZandt

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. . .

A beautiful historical fiction, this book will stay with you long after it’s over.

This is really historical fiction at its best. The writing is lush with details, leading the reader into a time that is not as well known, perhaps, as the usual Victorian or even Renaissance periods. There is an epic feel to the story which bodes well for having a sequel, or even a few books to follow it. There is enough action to keep most readers interested, even amidst the beautiful and rich descriptions, so don’t think that it will be all period detail and no plot line.

The writing is well balanced, although there are a few grammatical concerns. I think with a tiny bit more editing all of that could be resolved. There is a wonderful sense of magic along with history that will fascinate most readers into wanting to read more about this time period. The goddesses that the author creates are alone worth the book.

I highly recommend this. It is a quick read which is a strange thing to say about a novel that takes place in the fifth century, but since its pacing is so well done, there is not a single moment of dullness. Definitely an interesting read.

1 comment:

TheReadingPenguin said...

This looks so very, very intriguing. For one thing, it isn't a time period that I've already studied extensively, so it feel very fresh to me. Thanks for sharing!