Day 8: Historical; Edwin Herbert

Meet Edwin Herbert.

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Edwin Herbert is president of his local freethought society, has been a regular op-ed newspaper columnist on topics concerning science, skepticism and the mythical roots of various religions. He has a busy optometric practice in Wisconsin, where he lives with his wife in their empty nest. Mythos Christos is his debut novel.

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Guest Post – On Writing Historical Fiction

Writing historical fiction entails a unique set of challenges not encountered when creating most other fictional worlds, and featuring little-chronicled historical figures or events can be even more difficult.
Though half my novel, Mythos Christos, takes place in modern times as an archaeological suspense / adventure uncovering a sequence of ancient buried caches of relics and manuscripts, the other half involves the mastermind behind the treasure hunt, Hypatia of Alexandria.
Alexandria, Egypt / AD 391 ─ When the great temple of Serapis and its library annex are destroyed by the Christian mob, the Neoplatonist philosopher Hypatia becomes concerned the Great Library might suffer a similar fate. She vows to save as much of the ancient knowledge as she can, especially certain telling documents concerning the origins of Christianity. But rather than merely hiding the heretical scrolls and codices in desert caves and hoping for the best, Hypatia contrives a far more ingenious plan. She sets up an elaborate sequence of burials, each of which is governed by actual ancient linguistic and geometrical riddles which must be solved to gain access. Only one steeped in Platonist mysticism would be capable of finding and unlocking the buried secrets.

Oxford, England / June, 2006 ─ American Rhodes scholar Lex Thomasson is sent by his professor to Alexandria to aid a mysterious Vatican group known only as “The Commission.” They require a specialist in ancient languages to solve a sequence of Greek Mystery puzzles in what soon becomes evident is an ancient treasure hunt. The Oxford paleographer demonstrates his unique talents by unlocking the secrets along the trail. It does not take long, however, for him to become suspicious of the Commission’s true motives, and the trail becomes a trial fraught with danger.

The scene alternates between the two time periods. In both, assassins lurk and fanatics abound. And all along, religious Faith and historical Truth struggle for supremacy.

Though a degree of artistic license is a given, writers of historical fiction are sought out and lauded for their fidelity to historical fact and must therefore veer from conventional historicity only when dealing with the minutiae, or when challenging accepted historical fact. As such, the author must conduct exhaustive research to accurately portray the cultural and historical milieu as a backdrop, including major events of the era in question, physical features and landmarks, and any political, economic, or religious struggles which may have occurred.

For me, this required many years of study, and I had the added challenge of devising the means to introduce the ancient riddles my protagonist was tasked with solving as he progressed along the hunt. These puzzles involved Platonism, Pythagorean geometry, astro-theology, alchemy, Greek mythology, and even the mathematical relationships found, surprisingly, in certain Biblical narratives—and all this utilizing the ancient system of gematria as a cipher.

I wrote Mythos Christos to expose some little-known historical information in the most entertaining way I knew how—fiction.

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