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. . .
Written in the Ashes (Book 1 in the Mediterranean series) didn’t take long for me to read. Once I got going, it was hard to put down. Not only have I always been interested in ancient history, The Great Library has always fascinated me, though I didn’t really know a lot about the background, the fire, etc. This book told me everything I wanted to know and more. Parts of the book are historical from what I understand, but other parts are pure imagination and I think those parts really help tie the story together and keep the reader interested. It makes it more than just a bunch of facts that would no doubt get boring after awhile.
What can I really say? This book was amazing from start to finish. Kaia is wonderful writer who really knows how to put her reader in the thick of things with descriptive passages of the people and places. I enjoyed reading about all the vivid characters who sprang to life all through the book, each one important to the plot. Hannah, the main character, is wonderful and I enjoyed watching her grow and get the life she was meant to have. I was most drawn to Hypatia, the last librarian at the Great Library and found her utterly engrossing. I don’t think I’ve read about anyone quite like her before. I’d love to be able to know her, ask her questions – I bet she had quite a lot to teach.
I’m really looking forward to the author’s next book in the series. Also, a little birdie told me that ‘Ashes’ is going to be made into a movie, which is quite exciting to me. If it stays true to the book, it’s sure to be a masterpiece.