Friday 17 September 2021

The Lost Wisdom Of The Magi by Susie Helme BLOG TOUR @susiehelme @TheConradPress @RandomTTours #BookExtract

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.

The Lost Wisdom of the Magi : the memoirs of Sophia Zealotes by Susie Helme was published in December 2020 by The Conrad Press.

The book was recently awarded the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award for Best Historical 

As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour, I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 

Extract from The Lost Wisdom of the Magi by Susie Helme

Sisters of Alexandria, you have requested an account of my years in Palestine, and so I pledge these scrolls to you, a gift from sister to sister, in appreciation for all your works. Some

of you, my Sisters, are interested in the war, and want to hear heroic tales of Zealots. Some of you mourn Churban HaBayit (Destruction of the Temple), and wish to join my grief with yours.

I know that some of you, too, yearn for the Lost Wisdom. You are curious about magic; and I will teach you what I know. As my most beloved disciples, these things are for your eyes alone.

Our Academy is dedicated to the womanly promulgation of all the jewels of civilisation. This work must be part of that goal. In my memory, the story began on that night when I came to my senses on the sandy hill west of the ruins of old Babylon. Everything before that seems a far distant past. It was on that cold ground that my destiny was cast, the Evening Star shining down upon my dusty shawl and bloodied robe, a magical fox questioning my actions with a probing gaze. I’ve had to trace the story backward from that moment, as for many years my

mind blocked the memories of what had gone before.

I cannot report to you that event, Sisters, other than by start- ing from the beginning. I cannot confess to you my behaviour on that night before I tell you the story of who I was, for I was very different then as a girl from the old crone you know now.

As you know, I was born in the Land Between the Rivers, in the city of Babylon, which is called Seleucia on the Tigris by the heirs of Alexandros (Alexander the Great).

My father, Itamar son of Nebazak, was a keeper of the royal archives of the Parthians. It has been the tradition in our family for eighteen generations by virtue of our scholarship. We are in Babylon since the Captivity.

My mother, Sherah, suffered a grave illness in the years after my birth, and there are many years between me and my younger brothers.

Some moons passed her with no moonblood, other moons she bled so heavily she took to bed. Sometimes when she lifted something heavy, she would cry out in pain and curl into a ball on the kitchen floor. Father was so careful when he embraced her, it seemed as if he was afraid even to touch her. Of course, no one ever explains such things to children, but I later described the symptoms to Ima Devorah, and she said it sounded like scarring on the womb. When Mother conceived and delivered the first boy, Adam, the birthing must have cleared away the scarred tissue from her body. When she recovered, she had three more sons in a row, each born before the elder was weaned.

My father gave me a Greek name, Sophia. It was the fashion in those days among Babylonian Jewry to have Greek names, and Father, a Pharisee of the old school, had ever a soft spot in his soul for the Greek arts. Sophia is a Greek word. It means wisdom. I believe my father saw the true course of my spirit when he so named me. Mother was too ill to dispute it, though I think she would have done.

Grandmother lived with us as nurse all during my mother’s illness, remaining as minder to the boys, and as she aged, I was expected to replace her in that role. She constantly scolded me to do this or that ‘for Mother’ or ‘for your brothers’ and scolded me with the same words she scolded the slaves. The boys saw me as a maidservant. Not only did I have to do all the work, but I got no respect for it. My brothers asked me to fetch them things without saying ‘please’ or ‘thank you’.

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.

TWITTER @susiehelme

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