Publication date: January 25, 2012 by Medallion Press
Source: Publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Gold Medal Winner, Popular Fiction, 2013 Florida Book Awards.
Cambridge archaeologist Sarah Weston makes an unusual discovery in the ancient Ethiopian mountain kingdom of Aksum: a sealed tomb with inscriptions in an obscure dialect. Seeking to ascertain the translation and the identity of the entombed man, she and her colleague, American anthropologist Daniel Madigan, stumble upon a lethal conflict.
Tracking down clues in Addis Ababa and the monasteries of Lalibela, Sarah and Daniel uncover a codex in a subterranean library revealing a set of prophecies about Earth’s final hours written by a man hailed by Coptic mystics as Ethiopia’s tenth saint. Violently opposed by the corrupt director of antiquities at the Ethiopian Ministry of Culture and Tourism, they’re left for dead in the heart of the Simien Mountains. Surviving to journey to Paris, Sarah is given another piece of the ancient puzzle: a fourteenth-century letter describing catastrophic events leading to the planet’s demise.
Connecting the two discoveries, Sarah faces a deadly intercontinental conspiracy to keep the secret of the tenth saint buried. Risking her reputation and her life, Sarah embarks on a quest to stall the technological advances that will surely destroy the world.
I am happy to participate in the virtual book tour for The Tenth Saint by posting a guest post by the author including an excerpt from the novel.
Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to your blog. Below is an excerpt from Chapter Seven of The Tenth Saint. It is a passage from the historical subplot which tells the story of Gabriel, a Western man who came to live with Bedouins in the Empty Quarter, in the fourth century CE, under mysterious circumstances. It is an interesting glimpse at Gabriel's inner turmoil, which is rooted in the dissonance between his own notions of man's supremacy on the planet and the Bedouins' commitment to living with the Earth's rhythms. This conflict is one of the central themes of the book, a contemplation that never quite gets resolved, as the answers are not so clear-cut. I hope you enjoy!
Gabriel was by nature an analytical man. What the nomads knew by instinct, he knew by mathematical exactitude. His mind dwelled in the realm of logic and order. On a steaming summer day, his logic told him a sandstorm might be approaching. He could tell this by the temperature of the air and ground and the direction from which the rare breezes came. When the air was bone-dry and so hot that breathing felt like a gasp for oxygen in a fire and the sand so hot it could not be traversed even by those with the most calloused feet, he knew, before the Bedouins themselves knew, what would happen: in nature’s inimitable way of attempting to achieve balance, the heat would distribute itself upward and outward by organizing convection currents. If the heat was intense enough and the currents strong enough, a fierce wind would be formed and move mass quantities of sand with no regard for anything or anyone in its way.
Gabriel went to Hairan to relay his suspicions. He bowed his head in respect and pointed his eyes toward the ground. “Shaykh, it has not rained in months. The air is still and hotter than I have ever seen it. The camels are restless. I fear great walls of sand are coming.”
Hairan grimaced, the furrows in his forehead and around his eyes deepening till he looked ancient. He shot Gabriel a hard gaze, meant not to provoke but to challenge. “And how is it that a man who has never lived in the desert knows so much?”
Though he had been there almost a year, he was still considered a visitor. “I humble myself to your wisdom and that of your tribesmen. I do not know the desert like you do, but this I know. I am certain of it.”
“Abyan.” Hairan used the name Da’ud had given Gabriel. Everyone had adopted the epithet. “I believe you are sincere in what you say. But you have to respect the knowledge of the people who live and die by this desert.” In an apparent show of courtesy toward the visitor, he made an unusual concession. “I will call the council of elders together this evening. You may state your concerns before everyone. Then the elders will make a decision, and you must abide by that decision whether you agree with it or not.”
No sooner did Gabriel agree than he began to regret it. How could he possibly explain it to the elders? They spoke a different language, literally and figuratively. None of the ruminations of his mind would make sense to them. He couldn’t write down mathematical formulas, or explain concepts like the interaction between ground heat and the atmosphere. They looked at the weather like their ancestors always had: intuitively. They knew rain was coming when they saw the scarabs burrowing in the sand. They knew the weather would get cooler when birds started flying south in great numbers. And they knew sandstorms were coming when they saw smoke on the horizon.
There was no smoke this night. The sky was clear, its indigo cloak illuminated by a dazzling, perfectly round moon. The elders were gathered in the communal tent, smoking their pipes and recounting stories from the past when Gabriel entered.
The room fell silent.
He worried everyone already knew what he was about to say and, worse, had prejudged him. He shook off his momentary desire to make for the door and stood firmly before them.
Hairan addressed his tribesmen in the authoritative tone his rank demanded. “Abyan has something to say to us. Listen carefully. His is a warning. Warnings are never to be taken lightly.”
Gabriel spoke in a combination of Bedouin dialect and hand gestures. “Brothers, friends. I am but a stranger to these lands and bow to your wisdom. I claim no authority over this council, but I humbly ask you to heed what I am about to say. I have cause to suspect a great wall of sand is heading in our direction as soon as midday tomorrow. The people must prepare for this now.”
“You realize this is a grave matter. Why should we believe you?” one elder asked.
“Have you seen a vision?” asked another.
“No, no visions. Just fact. The desert is too hot. Even the animals feel it.” Gabriel struggled to disguise his frustration. “It will rise up and revolt to bring itself back to a balanced state.”
“Tomorrow we ride for the oasis,” said one of Hairan’s top lieutenants. “If we take cover as you are suggesting, we will miss our turn in the fertile lands. This would be devastating for our people and for the animals.”
“But not taking cover would be far worse. You could lose lives and property. It would be a major setback for the tribe.”
The elders whispered among themselves, clearly weighing both sides of the equation.
As the deliberations became more heated, Hairan clapped to call for quiet. He turned to Gabriel. “You must take your leave now. We will discuss this matter in private, and we will inform you of our decision. Please . . . go.”
With a sense of foreboding, Gabriel exited the tent. He had hoped that the elders would be more reasonable, that when faced with the prospect of death and destruction, they would choose the safe route even if doing so wasn’t convenient. Now he wasn’t so sure.
They seemed to be divided, clearly unconvinced a random white man could have any knowledge of things they had learned through the wisdom of their ancestors. His kind had no jurisdiction here.
When Hairan finally walked out of the tent, his old eyes screwed up, Gabriel could tell what the verdict was.
“I will lead the caravan to the oasis tomorrow. We have no supplies, no water. If we do not go, we will surely suffer the consequences.”
Gabriel clutched his unruly blond hair, now so long it dusted his shoulders. “This is madness. I can see what’s happening here. I am not one of you, so you summarily dismiss me. You would rather risk lives than believe a white man. Is that it?”
“This isn’t about you, Abyan. What I believe is that these people’s livelihood is at stake. Their very survival. I will not put them in the way of peril.”
“And yet peril is exactly what you will face.”
“We have been through countless sandstorms and survived. We are not afraid.”
He pointed at the chief, fully aware it was a sign of disrespect. “You are being foolish. You will regret this.”
“When I asked you to present your case to the council, I also said you had to accept their decision. It shows bad character to go back on your word.”
Gabriel looked away, insulted. Hairan might as well have slapped him.
Aware of the checkmate, the chief softened his tone. “All will be well. You will see.”
Gabriel did not reward him with a reply or even a look in the eye.
Hairan turned and walked to his tent.
Da’ud signaled to Gabriel to come sit with him and his cronies by the fire. Handing him a pipe of tobacco, the young man said, “You look pale, Abyan. What has happened to you?”
“I don’t belong here, my friend,” Gabriel said. “No matter how much I know or how I try to help, I will never be accepted. We both know that.”
“You are different from us. You do things a certain way, and we do them another way. That is not a bad thing.”
“Our covenant. We believe no man is greater than another. Your knowledge and beliefs have a place in your society. We respect that. And you must respect our way of looking at the world.”
“You are too young to be talking like this.”
Da’ud laughed. “I’m not so young. I’m getting married before the next full moon. You will dance at my wedding, no?”
“You? Married?” Gabriel feigned shock. “Of course. I wouldn’t miss it. Besides, who else will pick you up when you drink too much of that camel-piss wine?”
Da’ud pointed to the pipe in Gabriel’s hand. “Or smoke too much of this camel dung.”
“Camel dung? That’s what I’ve been smoking all this time?” He took another puff. “Rather good.”
The two men laughed and shared a smoke. But even that lighthearted moment couldn’t lift Gabriel’s sense of dread.
About the AuthorD.J. Niko is the nom de plume of Daphne Nikolopoulos, an award-winning author and journalist. Her first novel, titled The Tenth Saint, was released in March 2012 to rave reviews by both readers and the trade. In March 2013, it was awarded the Gold Medal for popular fiction in the prestigious, juried Florida Book Awards. An archaeological thriller embroidered with historical motifs, The Tenth Saint takes readers on an adventure across the globe: Ethiopia, the Syro-Arabian Desert and Abyssinian Empire circa fourth century, London, Paris, Brussels, and Texas. The Tenth Saint is the first book in The Sarah Weston Chronicles series. The second, titled The Riddle of Solomon, releases July 1, 2013.
Daphne is now at work on a historical novel set in tenth century B.C.E. Israel. The epic story details the collapse of the United Monarchy and the glory and fall of the empire built by King Solomon. It will be released in early 2015.
As a former travel journalist, Daphne has traveled across the globe on assignment, or for personal discovery. She has been to some places most of us don’t realize are on the map, and she has brought them to life through her writing for various magazines, newspapers and websites on an international scale. Her travel background and rich experiences now bring authentic detail, color, and realism to her fiction.
She also is the editor in chief of Palm Beach Illustrated magazine, a 62-year-old luxury-lifestyle glossy. She also is the editorial director of Palm Beach Media Group, and in that capacity oversees 11 magazines and 3 websites.
She is the mother of twin toddlers and, in her spare time, volunteers for causes she believes in—literacy, education, child advocacy, and the advancement of traditional and tribal arts from around the world. Born in Athens, Greece, she now lives with her family in West Palm Beach, Florida.
For more information, please visit D.J. Niko’s website. You can also follow on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.
Virtual Book Tour ScheduleWednesday, November 20
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Thursday, November 21
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, November 22
Guest Post at A Bookish Libraria
Monday, November 25
Review at Just One More Chapter
Wednesday, November 27
Review at The Lit Bitch
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Thursday, November 28
Guest Post at A Book Geek
Monday, December 2
Review at Library of Alexandra
Tuesday, December 3
Review at For Winter Nights
Wednesday, December 4
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, December 5
Interview at For Winter Nights
Friday, December 6
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading