221 BC: a historical fantastical novel

221 BC: the fantastical tale of a race to find twelve magic amulets that can destroy the earth, of journeys across Egypt and the middle East,, all woven into the very real history of the events of 221 BC, of politics, battles, and Hannibal's famous journey over the Alps.

"An inventive blend of Egyptian history and magic, this dynastic tale opens what promises to be a stellar series." Kirkus Reviews.

As always, there's a story behind the story.  This story starts in the summer of 1980, when I made a journey, myself.  I was 11 years old when my family made the move from Washington, DC to Duluth, Minnesota.  That was a trip that deserves its own story--with a stop at the battlefield of Gettsyburg, north into Canada, and west across half a country, finally crossing the border again into Minnesota and driving south to Duluth.  (Let me tell you, very few people drive south to Duluth!)  There, we joined my mother (very pregnant with my youngest sister) in our new home--a big three story plus full basement Victorian, built in the early 20th Century. 

(That house is another story unto itself--and a house that in fact previous owners love and want to write the story of--but that's yet another story.)

It was not only a wonderful house, but a wonderful neighborhood.  We had a haunted house (I'm not kidding--I'll tell that story another time) at one end of our street and a huge and very unique cemetery at the other.  Plus, we had bears.  (Again, I'm not kidding.  My dog wanted to tussle with the bear, while the bear (a cub) and I were both trying desperately to run away from each other!)

Also--we had neighbors. Some of those neighbors inspired some of us kids to parody the song Who are the people in your neighborhood?  Really, though, it was, overall, a very good neighborhood.  Next door to us was the legendary Eileen Bonifaci, who had gone to New York City, at the age of 16, with her big sister, to be a Rockette and in her later years ran a dance troupe of women from their 50s to their 90s.  I think it was called the Silver Foxes.  She was a very kind woman and was very welcoming of my little sister, three at the time, often having tea parties with her.

Across the street lived a 6 year old girl named Michelle, who quickly became friends with that 3 year old sister.  I frequently babysat for Michelle, her older brother, and her youngest brother who was born just a month before my youngest sister. 

Among other neighborhood adventures, there was the Halloween we created an amazing group 'costume' of a princess pulled in a sleigh by fantastical dragons--whose heads I made in paper mache in our basement.  It was the one Halloween it didn't snow in Duluth and hence we couldn't use the 'sleigh.'

Fast forward 30 years or so.  Thanks to the wonder of the internet and facebook, I reconnected with Michelle who was now (surprisingly!!!!) no longer a 6 year old girl.  She had gone to college and acquired accolades in martial arts and degrees in acupuncture!  Her husband, Kendall, had written a novel, called 221 BC.  After the first draft, he decided he wanted some help, as his job as a pathologist kept him quite busy.  A very funny thing--she suggested he ask me, before she was even aware I had written any books myself.

Kendall and I originally worked off the original Kirkus review comments.  In doing so, we ended up doubling the word count, as we passed the manuscript back and forth, each adding, commenting on the previous edits and additions, and adding more.

I ended up learning a lot about the history and geography of the world of 221 BC, in addition to learning a bit about some of Kendall's area's of knowledge that played into the story.  Although I certainly knew about Hannibal's journey over the Alps, I was amazed, the more I read both Kendall's original manuscript and the history behind it, how much every character in the book was historical, and how much history he had managed to keep intact while weaving in this hunt for the magical amulets!

We dug into questions like: Did Hannibal have Asian or African elephants?  (In fact, some guess there used to be 350 species of elephants--we didn't even dig into that!)  Did they swim across the river or were they ferried?  These are raging debates and we waded in (forgive the pun) and chose a side.  We traded maps of battles and battle lines.  We imagined great escapes and how they might have happened, and through it all, I learned more about Chinese medicine, ancient Egyptian history, martial arts, and meridian points.

Editing and re-writing is always hard.  But then...bit by bit, everything began to fall into place.  More and more!  And one magical day, Kendall sent a final draft to Kirkus reviews.  And wonderful praise came back!  Such as:

Price and Vosika paint a vivid, intricate portrait of war, juggling a wide array of famous characters, including the notorious Hannibal, and using meticulous research to flesh out this universe, rooted in historical facts and details. The prose is rich and involving, and the twists are carefully designed and executed.

221 BC came out in e-book format in April.  It will soon be appearing in print.  I am excited about the final product and proud to have been a part of it.  Thank you, Kendall!

About the Book:

Set against the backdrop of the Ptolemaic Kingdom in an alternative history linking the power of the pharaohs to magic, this first installment of a trilogy details the beginnings of a war pitting brother against brother.

As the debut novel opens, King Ptolemy III, Macedonian ruler of Egypt, is distraught over the apparent murder of his friend, Qibo (“Multiple gashes covered his body. His eyes stared at the ceiling, as if he could still see whatever had killed him”). The ancient Taoist master had worked at the Museum of Alexandria for years. This act seems to be the dark culmination to a number of days in which Ptolemy has been plagued with nightmares laced with what appear to be strange signs. He dreams he is the Pharaoh Amenhotep III, worrying over his kingdom and suffering from dental pain, the latter of which seems to affect Ptolemy’s waking hours as well. After exhuming the dead pharaoh’s body, experts discover that he did indeed have advanced abscesses in his teeth, which leads head librarian Eratosthenes to posit that someone might be working magic against the king, perhaps to re-create history.

The theory is that Qibo was murdered to prevent him from translating ancient tablets that might help Ptolemy unlock the magical powers of a set of 12 amulets that have been in the possession of the pharaohs for untold years, each associated with a different element.

If you are interested in having Scotland through the Eyes of the Author presented to your group, please contact me at editors@gabrielshornpress.com 
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