This engaging, meticulously researched novel tells the story of Sophia, a first-century Babylonian Jew who learns ancient languages at the royal archives of the Parthians and secretly studies the magic on cuneiform tablets. Sophia runs away from home, joining a Nabataean incense caravan, studies with the Essenes on the Dead Sea and joins with the militants of Qumran. As the Zealots battle to defend revolutionary Jerusalem against Titus, she falls in love with a Greek freedman, Athanasios, a comrade in arms. Jews and Christians briefly unite with Samaritans and the People of the Land. But messiahs can prove false.
Susie Helme is an American from Nashville, Tennessee, living in London, after sojourns in Tokyo, Paris and Geneva with a passion for ancient history, politics and magic, mythology and religion.
She is a political activist and a socialist.
Once editor of Mobile Communications Asia and other mobile communications magazines, she co-authored the Jan 2000 Future Mobile Handsets.
She published with the Conrad Press in December 2020 her first novel, The Lost Wisdom of the Magi
She is founder member of the Bounds Green Book Writers writers’ circle, which published in Autumn 2020 an anthology of coronavirus-inspired fiction, Lockdown Lit—Inspiration in Isolation.
She now subedits Dignity magazine, writes historical novels and grows organic vegetables.
She offers freelance services proofreading or developmental editing for authors needing help with their novels and is open to offers of review-swapping and mutual beta-reading.
My thoughts: this was a fascinating and thoroughly interesting read. Chronicling the life of Sophia, a Babylonian Jew, a mystic, scholar and traveller. Sophia leaves her home and traverses across the lands beyond, eventually to Alexandria – the famous city built by Alexander the Great.
Along the way she learns languages and stories, constantly seeking knowledge and magic. She finds friendship and love. Her memoirs are full of fascinating detail and delightful stories. I was enchanted and transported to a world of camel caravans, ancient languages and peoples.
This is a beautiful and intelligent novel, bringing to life the period and people.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.