Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Book of the Month

The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles,
it distracts, it excites, it gives you a knowledge of the world and
experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.

Elizabeth Hardwick

As most of you know, reading is my passion, and every once in awhile I come across a book so good that I just have to share about it with others and I found 'The Flight of the Sorceress' by Barry S. Wildorf an exceptionally good historical novel.  I purchased it on my Kindle Friday evening, and by  Sunday evening had completed all 232 pages and was wishing for more.

The story takes place in the fifth century AD. during the time  when the  the Roman Empire is coming to an end and tells the story of two women--a Celtic healer and a pagan librarian-- who dared challenge the beliefs during an era when the oppression of women was believed to be ordained by God. I do have to say here that the book aroused strong feelings within me, and at one point, I became so angry with the events that unfolded, the massacre of innocents in the name of God, that I had to light a candle and take a few deep breaths to calm down.  And here we are, centuries later, and the same things is happening...all in the name of religion.

The main character pf the novel is Glenys, a young Druid healer and herbalist who is branded a sorceress and condemned to death when a young mother and her baby die while under her care.  It doesn't matter that the mother was barely 14 and too young to bare a child.  It was Glenys use of an herb which was obtained from the Jews that sealed her fate.  Glenys is forced to flee her native Britannia along with her lover, Caelleigh and her cousin, Pelagius , a monk.  The threesome set out for Rome in an attempt to persuade the pope to accept the Celtic Church...which, up to this point, is said to harbor heretical beliefs.

At the same time, we are introduced to Hypatia, the librarian of Alexandria and the last of the great Pagan teachers, a very real character in the annals of history, who is having her own struggles with the Christian fanatics. We follow her struggles  as she risks her own to save the library along with its many books of pagan and Jewish writings which are seen as a threat by the maniacal monks who threaten to destroy anything and everyone whose beliefs are different than theirs.

Along the way we are introduced to the Jewish herbalist, Aschi, who, along with his family and friends are also living under threat of persecution simply because they are Jewish.  And, Orestes, the Pagan Prefect of Alexandria, the bloodthirsty Cyril, the Archbishop of Alexandria who led the Christian mobs against the Jews of Alexandria, the evil monk Hierax, and Ignatious, the monk who tracks Glynys across the continent. All of these people aside from Glynys and Aschi really lived. I will leave you with the book description ...

As the Roman Empire crumbles, the Catholic Church fills the power vacuum by launching attacks on classical culture. Books are burned. Women are restricted from traditional occupations. The lives of pagans and Jews are imperiled. The Dark Ages loom.

But two women, Glenys, a Celtic herbalist and healer, and Hypatia, teacher, philosopher, mathematician and the last librarian of the great library at Alexandria, resist. Though one is branded a sorceress and the other an idolater, they refuse to surrender to the state-sanctioned religious leaders. Their struggle culminates in the cataclysmic events of Lenten week in 415 A.D.

Can anything be preserved?


  1. That sounds like an interesting book.

    I find many of times I have to inhale and exhale deeply in order to relax my state of mind, and how much more calming it is when there's candles burning around me.

  2. once again you have come up with a book review right up my alley, thankyou i will go hunting for this one,Lynne

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  4. My reading likes differ vastly from yours, but all in all ...reading is good medicine.
    There's nothing better than a good book....well maybe there is ...to fit ones needs. ;0)
    Just visited B & N for reading on the plane. :0)