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Written in the Ashes [Kindle Edition]

K. Hollan Van Zandt
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $2.99

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Book Description

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

  • File Size: 7323 KB
  • Print Length: 458 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: BalboaPress (July 13, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005HI39SU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #726,594 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Realistic and vivid portrayal of ancient Egypt September 12, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Let me first make a confession. I joined this book review tour because the description for Written in the Ashes sounded intriguing. What might our world be like today if the Great Library of Alexandria hadn't burned?

Once I received my copy, I put it on my Kindle, but didn't start reading it until about two weeks ago. Now I regret waiting so long to begin this book. From the very first paragraph, no, the first sentence, I was in love with Van Zandt's prose and her mastery of historical fiction. The story begins:

"All trees hold secrets."

How could I put it down after that opening sentence? If only I had started the book sooner, I could have read it once and read it again by now. Yes, this is one of those books to keep on your shelf or ereader to be enjoyed many times over.
Let me make another confession. I haven't finished this book yet. However, it's because I take my time with the best historical books, savoring the sensations and descriptions as I read. I found myself stopping to reread passages and leaning back in my chair, taking a moment to picture things the author had created on the page. It's even been picked up by an Academy Award winning producer to turn it into a mini-series.

Yes, it's that good.

K. Hollan Van Zandt has a magical way with words that sweeps you into ancient Egypt so readily, and with such finesse, that not only can you picture the setting, you can smell the dusty clay earth floating into your nostrils as you walk the trails. Her writing evokes the taste of desert honey melting in the sun and dripping off your fingers as you lift them to your lips. For example, in this very short excerpt, I can feel the breeze and taste the salt in the air as I watch the wind lift the bed curtains.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and educational June 26, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Library at Alexandria has always facinated me. What if it had not disappeared? What history of the ancient world might we know?

This book is a very interesting novel which looks at one scenario for the destruction of this famed library. As the author notes in the epilogue "It is most important to recognize that this novel in your hands is a synthesis of legend, history and imagination." Since so much of the actual history of this time was lost by the destruction of this famed library, I think the author did a great job of creating a story with what history we do know, and I love how she tells at the end of the book what is based on history, what is based on legend, and what parts she created to fill in the story.

I also enjoyed learning about Hypatia, an amazing historical woman who I knew nothing about prior, and the legend of The Emerald Tablet is also facinating to me.

A great historical novel, and an excellent job for the first work of this author. I would recommend it for fans of historical novels who have any interest in learning about this time period. The kindle edition I purchased was a great deal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sweeping look at people and ancient history June 11, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Review originally published at my blog: [...]
eBook 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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If Only The Library Hadn't Burned Down! June 3, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
While this book initially started out a little bit slow for me, it quickly picked up and I became instantly attached to the characters and the events that transpired. The characters were wonderfully written and I LOVED Hypatia. I had a vision of her in my head from the film Agora staring Rachel Weisz and I think my biggest issue was that I couldn't match the Hypatia in the book with the one in the movie. But as far as looks go, that is my least concern. For someone who we don't really know all that much about I loved getting to know her. She was a very learned woman and it was entirely unfair that people didn't understand the difference between science and witch craft and the world lost her much too soon. In terms of the leading men, I found myself intermittently in love with Gideon and Julian - both very good and brave men.

I enjoyed all of the drama brought about by the quest given to Hannah to find the Emerald Tablet. The exchanges between the characters in these scenes were some of my favorites. The scenes at the height of the novel were so action packed that I couldn't put it down; I felt like somehow I would miss things unfolding while the cover was closed.

I have to give high praise to the author for the atmospheric world of Alexandria and beyond that she brought to the page. For a lighthouse and library that no longer stand - and which I have never seen any images of - I could certainly picture them in my mind. We also travel to two oracles - one at Delphi and one in Egypt, whose name escapes me right now. I had not ever read about oracles before and really didn't know what to expect, however I enjoyed how van Zandt presented them. When they left Delphi I felt sad.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't wait for the second set of this trilogy
I really loved the journey this wonderful book took me on. I am checking back now to see if the follow up book has been published, as I'm anxiously awaiting the next in line. Read more
Published 15 months ago by H. Mosher
3.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction with a touch of mysticism
Historical fiction with a touch of mysticism - set in Alexandra with an uncivil mixture of Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilization. Read more
Published on December 28, 2012 by Layers of Thought
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, sweeping story!
Written in the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt is an intriguing read. Elegant prose lines the pages of this epic novel. Read more
Published on October 4, 2012 by The Curious Dame
5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put it down!
Written in Ashes is an incredible read. I have been a fan of historical novels my whole life and could not put this one down. Read more
Published on June 7, 2012 by kiaspirit
5.0 out of 5 stars A combination of historical fiction and heart pounding action!
Written in Ashes is the first book in the Mediterranean trilogy by debut author, K. Hollan Van Zandt. Read more
Published on May 29, 2012 by Deb@Debbie's Book Bag
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Written
I finished this book a few days ago and I wanted it to settle before I wrote my review. The novel, by the author's admission is part history, part imagination and part magic. Read more
Published on May 28, 2012 by P. Woodland
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking, Well Researched, Immortal
A great novel creates an inner spark that inspires the reader about life or themselves. Occasionally a gem comes along which can do both. Read more
Published on January 5, 2012 by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Read!
I had to put this review on the Kindle version as well. Wow. Written in the Ashes is so gorgeously written that I did not want it to end. Read more
Published on October 26, 2011 by Angela Shelton
5.0 out of 5 stars I just loved it!
I just loved this book! The characters are so wonderfully developed. And the story was really gripping. Read more
Published on September 14, 2011 by Dawn
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More About the Author

K. Hollan Van Zandt has always loved libraries, oceans, ancient history and migrating birds. Her mentor, novelist Tom Robbins, instilled in her an abiding love and respect for language. She lives in Southern California, and dreams of a home in Greece. This, her first novel, took ten years to complete


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