Review: Written in the Ashes by K. Hollan VanZandt
Author: K. Hollan VanZandt
Publisher: Balboa Press
Published: January 21, 2011
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: 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 VanZandt is a historical fiction account inspired by true events. The story follows Hannah, a girl kidnapped and sold into slavery. Her journey takes her into the city of Alexandria where she meets some extraordinary people. Hannah has a beautiful voice and a thirst for knowledge. She meets Hypatia who is the keeper of the great library in Alexandria. Hypatia offers her a place at the library, but Hannah's life leads her into another direction first. This book has a mixture of history and mythology. It is set during a tumultuous period for religion. Where anything/anyone non-christian is given the death penalty. Danger lurks at every turn, and Hannah must find a way to survive.
I enjoyed reading Written in the Ashes. I loved that the author used real historical events and people to build the story around. Hannah is a good, strong character. Her journey sucked me in from the beginning. Her life is not an easy one. She's the victim of violence and threatened because of her beliefs. Hannah is a survivor.
The story line is intense at times and full of action at others. I liked all the characters, good and bad. The author does a fantastic job of bringing history to life. Written in the Ashes is a beautifully written story that you don't want to end.