Reviewer Amy Lignor: Amy is the author of a historical fiction novel entitled The Heart of a Legend, and Mind Made, a work of science fiction. Presently, she is writing an adventure series set in the New York Public Library, as well as a teen fiction series, The Angel Chronicles. She is an avid traveler and has been fortunate to have journeyed across the USA, where she has met the most amazing people, who truly bring life and soul to her books. She lives in the Land of Enchantment (for now) with her gorgeous daughter, Shelby, her wonderful Mom, Mary, and the greatest friend and critic in the entire world - her dog, Reuben
Author: Faith L. Justice
lifelong daughter of a research librarian - and an absolute historic
"guru and geek" - I was so pleased to see this book.
In fact, this book in my hands is like giving chocolate to a child (I
babbled so much about how much I liked it, that I got sent to my
The white limestone walls of Alexandria once rose from the Mediterranean Sea like a beacon of light. The most intuitive people and the most amazing minds throughout history sat in Alexandria's famous libraries and museums, speaking to the crowds of people about the past, present and future, and making monumental discoveries that are still in use today. Ptolemy was one of the greats, as well as The Lady Philosopher, Hypatia. In this book, we are included in the life of Selene, a young (fictional) character, who has the most amazing life and times that any young lady could possibly hope for.
As the daughter of a wealthy councilor, we begin to watch Selene grow up and meet the demands of her station. At first, she is just a young girl running through the streets with her brother and his friend. Long and gangly like a boy, she has the "tomboy" persona down to a tee - running, playing, and loving the world going on around her. As she grows up, she is also the head of her household; the female who runs the kitchen, servants, and makes sure her house is in order for her busy father. Her own servant's name is Rebecca and the stories of the rich and poor - master and servant - are told brilliantly through Rebecca's eyes.
Selene, however, is beyond strong-willed, which serves her well in AD 412, when rich Christian families, such as her own, met up with a brand new Patriarch named Cyril, who wanted nothing more than to stand against the Prefect, Orestes, who was sent to rule over Alexandria and her people. Selene, at this time, is supposed to be a girl being readied for a suitable marriage and not the young, gifted woman she is, who wants nothing more than to become a physician (man's work) and heal people. When her older brother Peter arrives back in the city (a young soldier who is now best friends with Orestes) Selene finds herself captured by the Prefect's intelligence and strength. She begs her father, brother, and anyone who will listen for a "shot" at becoming the doctor she's always wanted to be. When she shears off her long flowing hair and dresses in the robes of a boy to meet up with Hypatia, she has the luckiest day of her life. The Lady Philosopher sees in Selene parts of herself - the will, longing, and brilliance to help people. Hypatia becomes Selene's muse and, not only convinces Selene's father that this is the way for his child, but also sets Selene up with classes and teachers - even a medicinal guru named 'Nut' - who will lead Selene to her dream.
Now, anyone who has read about this time period knows that the Christian church was "banging" their head and everyone elses' heads at the time, to turn all of Alexandria into God-loving people, where they would release their "pagan" ways and turn to the Lord for everything. Cyril, the Patriarch, is going to do all in his power - through pain, prejudice, and tyranny - to make sure that he brings every Alexandrian under his wing and terminate all other gods and goddesses and modes of prayer. Selene becomes embroiled in an all out war, as she sees her beloved Alexandria fall down around her ears.
For anyone who does not know the story of the fantastic Hypatia, I will omit some of the more fearsome facts about this time period - because, trust me, you will not be disappointed in her story. In fact, the woman was, and still remains, one of the most revered female philosophers in the world. I am also blown away and enthralled completely with the work this author, Faith Justice, has done. For seventeen years she has 'hit the books' and studied every piece of information that is available from this time period. The rioting factions of church versus state; the romance between children who have grown up in an unstable world - each piece of their lives has been studied and recorded with beauty, brilliance, and brutal honesty.
Run to the bookstore and buy this for yourself. This is a 'must-have' after-Christmas present for you readers out there. In the pages, you will walk down Canopic Street, sit in the shaded colonnades with geniuses, and stare at the bright painted statues carved into the limestone niches that line the fantastical world of ancient Alexandria. You will walk up the steps of the immense Pharos Lighthouse and stare off at the ships in the harbor as they wait for the next distress signal against their fair city. And, best of all, you will sit in that grand library and meet the most remarkable people from a time long past. What more could you want? Happy Holidays.