Publisher: Harper Collins (Nov. 29, 2016)
Category: Historical Fiction
Tour Dates: May-June, 2017
Available in: Print & 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.
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
WRITTEN IN THE ASHES
K. Hollan Van Zandt
It was Tarek who bought the girl in the agora.
The slave traders had set her on the block, long dark hair swept in front of her shoulders to hide the ugly gash across her chest, wrists bound so that she could not feel her fingers. The humiliation stung worse than a field of nettles.
Another bidder, an older gentleman with a gilded cane, eyed the girl on the block with her young plump bosom and her long limbs, checking her teeth and running his hand down one of her sinuous arms, then smacking her hip as if she were a horse and clutching her breast in his hand. She spit in his eye. The slave traders kicked her to her knees.
Tarek had been on his way to see a whore, one of the many nameless beauties he preferred. They were to meet beside the city fountain. He had not intended to stop in the market, but he wanted to buy a flute. His was broken. All women love a flute, and he wanted where flutes lead. But instead he saw the trembling girl on the trader’s block, and her eyes reached for him and pleaded beauty he had never seen. He forgot the flute and counted his coins.
He knew Alizar would protest. But those eyes. Perhaps he could purchase her and keep her all the same. The mind that wants can reason anything.
Hannah stood in her soiled clothes before a hungry crowd that surged against the block. She was the last to be sold. Her captors had done well. The pretty girl with brown eyes had gone to the wealthy bawd of a brothel on the wharf. The mother and daughter as chattel to a decorated captain on his way to Rome. Hannah was left. Their prize. She was illiterate, but of extraordinary beauty, and the one was worth twice the other. And then there was her talent. Oh, yes. She would bring them a handsome coin.
She sealed her lips.
A knife was pressed to the small of her back.
Her lips parted.
Then a skinny boy with a tangle of dark hair dismounted and led his horse through the crowd, waving a bag of coins. One hundred solidi.
After surrendering his gold coins to the slave traders, the girl was shuttled from the trader’s block and pushed into the hairy arms of a blacksmith who swiftly bound her neck in a bronze collar that read the name and address of where to return her should she escape. His fiery clamp hissed in her ear as metal found metal, and it was done.
The boy took her hands in his, and the cool dampness of them disgusted her; he had fish where hands should be. She looked away.
“You will come with me,” he said. “My name is Tarek. I will take you to a bath and a good home. My father’s home. Alizar of Alexandria.”
Hannah heard the Greek like some new melody. She did not know the meaning of the words but could feel the warmth within them. If this stranger offered some protection, then she would stay with him until he slept, and then escape to find her father. And so she allowed herself to be led, limping barefoot across the cobbles, her toes swollen and bloody from miles of walking the road.
Tarek’s regret at spending the money gnawed holes in his gut where certainty should have been. This girl would eat and drink and cost his father’s house, and there might be upheaval. The money he had paid for her was to go to supplies for the vineyard: a hundred amphorae, a new grape press. Tarek considered other options: he could have been robbed, there were more and more priests demanding bribes, maybe he was swindled by the ceramicist. Better to say nothing. Hide the girl in his room. Give her mending to do and keep her a secret until, until . . . he found some believable excuse.
Tarek guided her through the market district just outside the Jewish Quarter along the narrow alleys that spiraled around a small hill, atop which stood the skeleton of a massive temple library once called the Serapeum. The ruins were flanked with marble statues of Isis kneeling all along the periphery, most of them missing heads or bearing broken wings. At the center of the courtyard stood a tall black column twenty-six meters in height, six meters in diameter, and crowned with the porphyry statue of Diocletian, a ruler now forgotten. It was a latrine for beggars now.
As they wound deeper into the labyrinth of the city, Hannah began to loose her footing. She struggled to hold her head up as a sudden faintness came over her, and the heat surged upward in her blood. Her limbs became heavy and tired. Then her knees buckled.
Tarek cursed her; she could not cost so much only to die.
About K. Hollan Van Zandt
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
Buy Written In the Ashes by K. Hollan Van ZandtAmazon Barnes&Noble
Follow Written In the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt Tour
Written In the Ashes Web Tour Schedule
Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus May 19 Interview & Giveaway
Celticlady's Reviews May 22 Excerpt
Room without Books is Empty May 30 Review
Passages to the Past May 31 Review & Giveaway
Books, Dreams,Life June 1 Review & Excerpt
Second Book to the Right June 2 Review
The Book Diva's Reads June 5 Interview
Rainy Day Reviews June 7 Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway
History from Woman's Perspective June 8 Review & Guest Post
Between the Beats June 16 Review
Secret Pearl Reviews June 23 Review
Lisa's Writopia June 26 Guest Post
Amazon Reviewer June 27 Review
Caty Amazon Reviewer June 28 Review