If you like to read about strong women, this is a book you will greatly enjoy. Hannah, a victim of human trafficking in 5th-century Sinai, is taken to a land in which she is unfamiliar with their ways and customs. She manages to rise above all the hardships she experiences there to become a woman greatly respected in this foreign land.
Slave traders, cruel to Hannah and the other women they had abducted, take them to the beautiful city of Alexandria, Egypt.
A young man from Alexandria, Tarek, bought Hannah as he passed by where the slaves were being sold. He bought her on a whim and prayed that his father wouldn’t be upset when he found out what he had done. He hid Hannah in his room to begin with, but she made such a racket that she was soon found by Tarek’s father.
Hannah was lucky. The father of the young man called in a doctor to tend to the wounds the slave traders had left her with and treated her as a human, not a slave. Once she recovers from her wounds, her life becomes filled with danger, deceit, love, joy, humor, adventure, and learning.
Her introduction to Alexandria was seeing the Parabolani cut off a man’s arms. Such horror in such a gorgeous city. The Parabolini are not the ones you want after you. They go after those whom they believe to be pagans and kill them in very painful ways.
The Great Library of Alexandria would have been awesome to see and experience. In its Great Hall was a glass cupola that magnified sound from one wall to another. While in this part of the library, librarians and visitors were asked to remain silent because just a whisper sounded like a shout.
Statues of Greek and Roman gods are everywhere, and to Hannah, these people have some really strange customs, especially on the island of Pharos where there is a temple to Isis. There is a battle between two men on this island. Each of them blindfolded, and it is a fight to the death. The winner will be greatly rewarded.
During this time in history, there were chariot races. These races horrified yet excited the crowds. A charioteer could be crushed by his own chariot and his face mangled beyond description.
An enormous amount of history is contained within the pages of this book, and this author’s writing style makes it enjoyable and memorable. I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. If you would like to purchase your own copy, I have provided an Amazon link below.
Amazon link: Written in the Ashes
Hannah discovered from spying on the Bedouin camps that there were sages, wise women who could interpret embers in a fire, read the entrails of animals or even proclaim that a comet’s blue smudge in the night sky would mean the end of a king.
Hypatia waved her arms and batted a tower of scrolls on her desk, a waterfall of papyrus flowing to the floor.
The merciless summer light blurred the edges of the short nights, and annual customs jolted everyone in the city into buying and selling and sharing alcohol as though it could cure every ill, satiate every desire, make one immortal, raise the dead.
Far off on the west side of the island, elder Master Junkar climbed to the top of a stack of wood and took a cross-legged seat to allow the flames consume his bones, his flesh.
New Words Learned:
A glossary of Greek and Hebrew terms used throughout the story can be found in the back of the book. I thank the author for putting it there. It was a huge help.
anfractuous – characterized by windings and turnings; sinuous; circuitous
bannock – an often unleavened bread of oat or barley flour baked in flattish loaves
burnoose – a hooded mantle or cloak
caduceus – the staff carried by Mercury as messenger of the gods
carrack – a galleon sailed in the Mediterranean as a merchantman in the 15th and 16th centuries
chthonic – dwelling or reigning in the underworld
dirge – any mourning song or melody
hierophant – an official high priest of religious mysteries, esp those of Eleusis
kilim – a pileless, tapestry-woven rug or other covering made in various parts of the Middle East, eastern Europe, and Turkestan
mandala – a schematized representation of the cosmos, chiefly characterized by a concentric configuration of geometric shapes, each of which contains an image of a deity or an attribute of a deity
Mouseion – museums
porphyry – a very hard rock, anciently quarried in Egypt, having a dark, purplish-red groundmass containing small crystals of feldspar
praxis – a practical exercise
prurient – having, inclined to have, or characterized by lascivious or lustful thoughts, desires, etc
reliquary – a receptacle or repository for relics, esp relics of saints
tenebrous – dark; gloomy; obscure
tumescent – swelling
unctuous – slippery or greasy
About the Author:
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 and 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.