Sunday, May 20, 2012

K. Hollan Van Zandt, Author of Written In the Ashes: On Tour

Publisher: Balboa Press- July, 2011
Category: Historical Fiction
Tour Dates: May, 2012
Available in Print and eBook, 448 pages
Written In the Ashes has been optioned by Mark R. Harris, Academy Award-Winning Producer (Crash, Gods & Monsters) for a TV mini series!
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. . .
Praise for Written In the Ashes:
“A stunning epic about the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria, Egypt from a brilliant young novelist whose depiction of the ancient world is sure to capture the hearts and readers everywhere.”- Mark R. Harris, Academy Award-Winning Producer (Crash, Gods & Monsters)
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, international/ New York Times bestselling author Even Cowgirls Get the Blues andJitterbug Perfume
“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.
“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
Written in the Ashes is a story that could have been ripped from today’s headlines. It opens the door into a magical, fascinating and frightening era in our history.  With hope, it’s one we will not be doomed to repeat.”-Josh Conviser, Executive Consultant HBO’s Rome, author Echelon and Empyre 
“This book has been optioned for a TV mini-series by Academy Award-winning producer Mark Harris (Crash 2005). I cannot wait to see this beautiful story on my TV.   Once I started this book I worked my way through it in 2 days. And when I say work, I mean it was a perfect read.  It is clear that a lot of research has gone into this book, which is perhaps most beautifully expressed in the description of the Library of Alexandria.  Next to a beautiful story, the book also shows respect for the time in which the story is set. As a historical fiction novel it is one of the best I have read in a long time. Kaia has truly achieved creating a story that is both captivating and interesting. With beautiful attention to detail and tradition, it is bound to ensnare every reader.”-Juli,
“The story is extremely detailed in historical fact, but by no means is it dry and dusty. The author manages to weave the facts seamlessly into the exciting and romantic fictional story. So much so, that it becomes difficult to separate the two while reading – it just sucks you right into 5th Century Alexandria. I found myself absolutely riveted while reading this book! I highly recommend this book for anyone that appreciates a strong female character or two.” Theresa Jones,
About K. Hollan Van Zandt:
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.
K. Hollan Van Zandt’s website.
Do you have a question you would like to ask K. Hollan Van Zandt?  Please join her new group at and ask away.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the first time I have ever read a book that takes place during the 400's, and it was definitely a well-written, well-researched book.  I was impressed with the scholarship and research that was displayed in the book, and I came to love a good share of the characters.  The story had a plethora of dramatic components, and very often I found myself either drawn in or repulsed.  And I loved the strength of the women in these books--unusual for this time period, or so I thought!

I was quite impressed with the realistic elements and description the author included in the book.  I never felt that the book was too violent or gory, but there were moments that I was glad I was not watching a video.  I found myself talking with others about the horrible punishments and deaths recorded in the book, and I marveled at the fact that much of the historical information was unfamiliar to me.  Why had I never heard of the Jews being slaughtered during the 400's in Alexandria?  That is the key right there--I know very little (if anything) of Eastern history.  I only know marginally more when it comes to Western history.  It amazes me how many things we do not teach students!

I found the author's description of the Christian religion quite intriguing and entirely accurate--unfortunately.  And we wonder why the world hates and distrusts Christians!  I always hate to see what people who have claimed my faith have done in the name of Christ!  And the author's story of how the worship of Mary came about was fascinating--trust or not, it was plausible.

As much as I liked a lot of this book, I am afraid I do have a few criticisms.  I will not be criticizing bedroom scenes--they were not detailed nor offensive.  The language in the book was acceptable, but I would have preferred not reading slang terms for bodily functions--I did not feel that was appropriate for a book of this calibre, but that is just my opinion.  I also did not like the parts that seemed to imply that the gods and goddesses were real.  I don't want to give anything away, but at times I struggled to tell the difference between reality and fable.  I am not well-versed in the portion of history, but I sometimes felt this story revered the pagan beliefs over anything else.  I also had another pet peeve.  Whenever the author got to a transition, the word "so" appeared.  I found this annoying after a while.  Sometimes I felt there was too much description.  But all that is just my opinion.  In fact, all of my criticisms are just that--my opinion.

I have given this book a 4-star rating.  I loved the first section, did not care for the second section, but basically enjoyed the final section.  I am not saying I definitely would not read a sequel--second books are often better than firsts--but it would not be on top of my "to do" list.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  I was not financially compensated in any way, and all opinions are 100 percent mine.

Follow the entire tour here.

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