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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Virtual Author Book Tours: Written in the Ashes by K. Hollan Van Zandt

Title: Written in the Ashes
Author: K. Hollan Van Zandt
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Balboa Press
Publish Date: July 6, 2011

Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You like historical fiction.
  • You want a book to get lost in.
  • You're looking for great characters.
  • You love good settings.
What's the Story?:

From "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."

My Two Cents:

Oh where to begin with this book? Where to begin? There were so many things that I loved in this book. First, one of the main stars of the show is the Great Library of Alexandria. As a voracious reader with a love for history, I've always felt a little sad when I think about the Great Library burning. While it may seem silly to still be upset about things that happened hundreds and hundreds of years ago, just think of all that information that was lost when that library burned. Think of everything that was lost!!! Think of what we could have learned! Okay, now that I've made you a little bit sad about a building burning down many, many years ago, let's continue ;)

VanZandt does a fantastic job with recreating what it must have been like to live back in Alexandria during the 400s. You can see the sites of the port in your mind's eye. You can imagine the clothing of all of the different kinds of people that made their way to Alexandria. I love great settings and I love great characters but I love most of all when an author can give you a full bodied experience. And what I mean by that is when an author gives you everything you could want in a book. You feel like you could be in the setting. You know exactly what the characters look like. You can see yourself hanging out with them (oh, Hannah, you are so awesome) or punching them in the face (oh, Tareq, you're pretty terrible and have way too much for your own good). To say I got sucked into the book would be an understatement. In the interest of full disclosure, I found myself sneaking looks at my Kindle just to read another page or two whenever I could. And yes, this book almost made me miss my Metro stop (I didn't miss it but came very close to doing so; a mark of a great book).

Let me tell you about the characters too. Hannah, the main character, was a stand out for me. She's the type of person that I'd love to have a glass of wine with and just chat. She was from Sinai and was brought to Alexandria where she was sold as a slave. She's bright and is so nice to everyone who is nice to her. She also knows how to kick you-know-what and take names when she needs to. I love that she can do both. It's such a good balance.

Not only did this book take me to a place that I had never really been before (I've read historical fiction about Egypt but most of it seemed to take place elsewhere and not in Alexandria). I think I would have gotten on well in Alexandria. It seems like my kind of place with all of the education and philophizing going on. This was sooooo good!

Bottom line: Historical fiction lovers who want a full bodied experience must read this book (emphasis on the must; this is not optional)!

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for a guest post by the author and a giveaway for this fabulous book right here at ABA!

Critical Links:

Check out the Goodreads Q&A (link)!   

Virtual Author Book Tours tour page



  1. Wow! This one sounds amazing. I am totally with you about being upset over the burning of the Library of Alexandria. So much was lost! I am definitely adding this one to the TBR list.

  2. I loved this book as well, it's in my top 5 of all time! Thanks so much for taking part in the tour.

    1. So glad that I got to be a part of the tour! Thanks for giving me the opportunity!

  3. Thanks for the splendid review! Glad to hear you enjoyed hanging out with Hannah and her friends. There will be two more books in this series -- once my baby gets a wee bit older I will start the next. I appreciate you taking the time to read WRITTEN IN THE ASHES and let people know about it.

  4. I agree, a fabulous book. Impossible to put down, and I don't usually read this genre.

    1. You really do get sucked in to the story, don't you?

  5. Sounds like I MUST read this :)

    I don't take your 5 rated books lightly, this one's going on the TBR ASAP!

    1. I very, very rarely give out five star ratings. Those are definitely for the best of the best!

  6. I just finished writing my review of this book and loved it! Just so atmospheric you could literally see the world as the characters would have.


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