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Written in the Ashes

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  262 ratings  ·  73 reviews
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 Alexand
Paperback, 530 pages
Published November 29th 2016 by HarperOne (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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May 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, greece, hf, egypt
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’d been wanting to learn more about the great library of Alexandria and Hypatia...along came this book to satisfy my desire!! I highly recommend this book for lovers of ancient history fiction! Xx
May 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical Fiction Lovers
Written In the Ashes takes place in the 5th century after the Roman Empire collapses, in Alexandria Egypt. It opens with teenager, Hannah, a shepherd girl roaming the desert with her father in search of a new place to live that has water for their sheep and themselves to live. One night Hannah sleeps close to the sheep to keep an eye on them but she is awakened by men who kidnap her and rape her. They bring her to Alexandria and auction her off as a slave to the highest bidder, Tarek. However, T ...more
Nov 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book a few days ago and I wanted it to settle before I wrote my review. The novel, by the author's admission is part history, part imagination and part magic. 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.
Amy Bruno
After seeing the rave reviews of Written in the Ashes from my blogger peeps I knew I had to read it, and when Teddy emailed me with the chance to review it for Kaia's Blog Tour I immediately signed up! And boy am I glad that I did! It's just as intriguing and un-put-down-able as I hoped it would be!

Written in the Ashes brings us back to 5th century BC, to Alexandria and the events leading up to the burning of the Library at Alexandria. The story is told through the eyes of Hannah, a young girl w
Meg - A Bookish Affair
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 everythi ...more
Anagha Uppal
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historical fans and even contemporary readers!
Recommended to Anagha Uppal by: Teddy
"Save your hate for someone who deserves it."
This and other beautiful quotes fill the pages of Written in the Ashes :)

Written is the Ashes was at first refreshing because this is the first non-YA book I've read in weeks, which is highly unusual. It's also a historical novel, which I don't read very often.

Every once in a while, a book comes along that restores my faith in indie/small pub books. I read indies to discover books like this - brilliant, unique, original and well-written reads - gems t
Stuart Volkow
Feb 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
K. Hollan Van Zandt’s debut novel about the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria is a fantastic page-turner. Anyone who starts this will be riveted from page one to the end.

I am a lover of epics, and this filled me with its wonderful, grand sweep of history, tantalizing detail and compelling characters making me feel like I was there. This is also an action-adventure with an epic scale complete with terrifying, high-stakes battles between nation states, rulers, and those devoted to a belo
Jul 17, 2017 marked it as attempted-not-for-me  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ancient, egypt
There wasn't anything wrong it with this, but it just failed to capture my attention and I felt like I was just plodding along more out of determination then enjoyment. ...more
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wheel-a-thon-v
I honestly was rather surprised and very pleased with how much I liked this book. The characters were likable so I was invested in them. and the plot kept me reading. Don't let the title and cover fool you, because this book is action packed.

Hypatia was an engaging character and I really liked her a lot. I'm sure it would've been frustrating for her, being as intelligent as she is but not having people really understand you. I love a woman who goes on a journey, a quest, for something of value t
Heather C
May 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this book initially started out a little bit slow for me, it quickly picked up and I became instantly attached to the characters and the events that transpired. The characters were wonderfully written and I LOVED Hypatia. I had a vision of her in my head from the film Agora staring Rachel Weisz and I think my biggest issue was that I couldn’t match the Hypatia in the book with the one in the movie. But as far as looks go, that is my least concern. For someone who we don’t really know all t ...more
Sofia Greenberg
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In K. Van Zandt’s Written in the Ashes, we follow young shepherd girl Hannah across the desert of Sinai, to the great city of Alexandria, through Egypt and to Greece in her initiation into womanhood and quest for the preservation of the works at the Great Library of Alexandria. An advocate for ancient cultures and a brilliant storyteller, Van Zandt passionately executes this heroine’s journey with rich humor, deep compassion, sexual vibrancy, and an acute respect for knowledge.
In this time of
Suzanne Lilly
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Let me first make a confession. I joined this book review tour because the description for Written in the Ashes sounded intriguing. What might our world be like today if the Great Library of Alexandria hadn’t burned?

Once I received my copy, I put it on my Kindle, but didn’t start reading it until about two weeks ago. Now I regret waiting so long to begin this book. From the very first paragraph, no, the first sentence, I was in love with Van Zandt’s prose and her mastery of historical fiction. T
The Library at Alexandria has always facinated me. What if it had not disappeared? What history of the ancient world might we know?

This book is a very interesting novel which looks at one scenario for the destruction of this famed library. As the author notes in the epilogue "It is most important to recognize that this novel in your hands is a synthesis of legend, history and imagination." Since so much of the actual history of this time was lost by the destruction of this famed library, I think
Clint Seeber
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is fantastic! Although "historical fiction" isn't really my thing - I really thoroughly enjoyed this read. Do yourself a favor - read and savor this! The only complaint I have is the occasional wrong word - such as "pouring" when it should have been "poring" or "gate" when it should have been "gait". I don't know if this is the author's or the editor's fault. In the end, that is only a minor annoyance. The author spent ten years on completing this novel, and the story is well-written a ...more
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Once in a very long while, there comes along a book that you wonder how you ever lived without it before. One that you have read, and your mind wanders back to on occasion. There are a few books like that for me.....The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle. The Firebrand inspired my love for all things in Greek mythology, and A Wrinkle In Time is actually the book that inspired by first major
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A compelling, ambitious work of historical fiction set around the time of the burning of Alexandria’s magnificent library. I like big books and I cannot lie.

Let me begin by saying how daunting it is to review a work of quite epic proportions (and this is only book 1!). Once upon a time, I did entertain dreams of being an Egyptologist, thanks to Henry Jones Jr., but I claim no formal qualifications—just a fascination with history in general because it has been said that ‘the past is never dead. I
Lelia Taylor
Aug 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: full-reviews
Way back in the Dark Ages when I was a teenager, I fell in love with history and, in particular, with the ancient lands of Egypt, Greece, Italy, Britain, etc. I seriously considered going into archaeology as a career but, fortunately, I figured out early on that I’m a couch potato at heart and really not cut out for all that sweat and hard work. Despite that setback, I’ve never lost my love for those places and their stories.

Then, in 1989, I had the great good fortune to go with my younger daugh
Apr 29, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, for-review
I love ancient Egypt. I’m sorry, that sentence doesn’t accurately describe my feelings towards the subject. If I were standing in the same room with you, I would yell “I LOVE ANCIENT EGYPT THIS MUCH!” and spread my arms as wide as they could possibly stretch, just to give you a tiny taste of my enduring love. So I was really excited when I first read the premise of Written in the Ashes, as it is set in Alexandria after the fall of the Roman Empire.

The book revolves around Hannah, a young Jewish
Ruth Hill
May 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 impre
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
A dramatic, plot-filled historical set in Alexandria Egypt in the 4th century, this novel follows Hannah, a Jewish goat herder who is kidnapped and sold as a slave in Alexandria. She's purchased on a whim but finds herself in the home of a vintner and alchemist who is friends with the infamous Hypatia, celebrated thinker and scholar. In this household, she's educated and encouraged to use her magnificent singing voice to become a bard of sorts, and it is her connection with Hypatia and the Libra ...more
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was on the fence about accepting WRITTEN IN THE ASHES until I read Michelle Moran’s blurb for it. Sold! I’ve loved everything I’ve read of Moran’s so if she’s saying this is a good one, I need no further enticement. I guess blurbs do work! Usually I don’t care who says what about what, but in this case one of my favorite authors helped me decide.

Overall it’s a beautiful story. The ancient world VanZandt pulled directly from the past is its own character; exactly how I like it. It’s alive in al
Alexandria, Egypt is a city of unrest and divided loyalties after the fall of the Roman empire. The rise of Christianity has made pagan rituals punishable by death and many Alexandrian citizens are caught between the rising tide of violence. Hannah is a Jewish shepherd girl when she is abducted and sold as a slave in this city filled with tension. She is bought by Alizar, a chemist and vintner, and she quickly rises to fame as her beautiful singing voice becomes very sought after and she becomes ...more
Review originally published at my blog:
eBook provided by author for review.

Hannah is a Jewish shepherdess, roaming the wilds of Sinai with her father, until her world is shattered by slave traders one night. Sold to a prestigious - and merciful - family in Alexandria, Hannah struggles to regain interest and enthusiasm for life, bearing scars on her body and her heart. As time begins to heal her wounds, Hannah finds her new life to be one of surprises. From private tutori
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To all the pagans out there, here is a book for you! Written in the Ashes does not over play the pagan side of the story or down play it.

To the history buffs, this is a book for you! The author spent ten years or more digging around doing the research for this book and it shows!

To all of the Rome fans out there, this is a book for you! Only better, in my humble opinion, for the shear fact that nothing was over the top drama but rather just right. Things unfold in the story line much the way li
Aug 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in the Ashes by K. Hollan VanZandt is a historical fiction account inspired by true events. The story follows Hannah, a girl kidnapped and sold into slavery. Her journey takes her into the city of Alexandria where she meets some extraordinary people. Hannah has a beautiful voice and a thirst for knowledge. She meets Hypatia who is the keeper of the great library in Alexandria. Hypatia offers her a place at the library, but Hannah's life leads her into another direction first. This book h ...more
Joy Weese Moll
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summary: Hannah, a Jewish slave with a beautiful voice, finds herself in Alexandria at a tumultuous time. As Rome falls, religious and political turmoil threaten Egypt and the supporters of the Great Library, including Hypatia, the great female philosopher and mathematician.

Thoughts: To a librarian, the Great Library of Alexandria is what Verrocchio’s Florence workshop is to a painter or Shakespeare’s Globe Theater is to an actor — a time and place when the profession reached a height that, as a
Apr 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful historical fiction, this book will stay with you long after it’s over.
This is really historical fiction at its best. The writing is lush with details, leading the reader into a time that is not as well known, perhaps, as the usual Victorian or even Renaissance periods. There is an epic feel to the story which bodes well for having a sequel, or even a few books to follow it. There is enough action to keep most readers interested, even amidst the beautiful and rich descriptions, so don
I really wish I didn't have to say bad things about this story. I can see the writer has labored long and hard to say it all just so. And there are crisp metaphors (silver leaves like minnows, the shifting city life like a pendulum swing) and dramatic scenes but GAH, the info-dump. Pages and pages of the Alexandrine Library, of the Christian conflict, of scientific discoveries. You remember when you had to read something at school and you'd ask, "Why do I need to know this? How will this ever he ...more
Dana Burgess
May 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Fans of historical fiction take note: you are going to want to head to your closest book store, amazon or wherever you get your books and pick this one up! Why, you ask? Here's why:

Set in Alexandria and the story is intricately woven together with the workings of the Great Library of Alexandria.
Strong, beautiful female protagonist.
Nasty bad guys
Hot male protagonists.
Romance, Love and Passion
The little angel - who was in my heart from the very beginning.

I have only one bad thi
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I'm a California girl with a big heart for ancient history- especially Greece and Egypt. My first novel, Written in the Ashes, took 15 years to write and research. I was mentored by novelist Tom Robbins and late comedian Garry Shandling. I'm a surfer, mom, and moon worshipper. ...more

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