The Moon that Fell from Heaven: Coffee Pot Book Club Blog.
Ehli-nikkalu, eldest daughter of the Hittite emperor, is married to a mere vassal of her father’s. But despite her status, her foreignness and inability to produce an heir drive a wedge between her and the court that surrounds her. When her secretary is mysteriously murdered while carrying the emperor a message that would indict the loyalty of his vassal, Ehli-nikkalu adopts the dead man’s orphaned children out of a guilty sense of responsibility.
A young cousin she has never met becomes a pretender to the throne and mobilizes roving armies of the poor and dispossessed, which causes the priority of her loyalties to become even more suspect. However, Ehli-nikkalu discovers a terrible secret that could destabilize the present regime if the pretender ever learns of it.
With the help of a kindly scribe, her brave young ward, and an embittered former soldier trapped in debt and self-doubt, Ehli-nikkalu sets out to save the kingdom and prove herself to her father. And along the way, she learns something about love.
The room was getting dark. The long rays of the late-afternoon sun were blocked by the west wing of the palace, so that the garden was already in shade. She called to Shamumanu, who waited in the vestibule, to bring her a lamp. The chamberlain set it on the table between the two and a little ahead, so they wouldn’t knock it over with a careless hand. It occurred to Ehli-nikkalu that fire might be an unsettling element for Teshamanu, but he seemed to pay the lamp no mind at all. They set back to work, she imitating each mark he impressed upon the wax. It gave her pleasure—and it gave her pleasure to sit beside Teshamanu, his dark head bowed seriously over the table, his stump bracing the wooden tablet frame with some effort.
Then, from far away or close upon them or deep below, a thundering noise began. It sounded like chariot troops approaching. Ehli-nikkalu looked up, half alarmed and half amused. “Are you kicking the table?”
“No, my lady.” Teshamanu held his feet up off the floor to show they were innocent. Then the lamp started to rattle on the table until the oil splashed out. The tablets chattered, and one fell off the edge of the table with a crash. The ewer on the queen’s clothes press danced crazily in place. The tiles seemed to liquefy, undulating under their feet. Nothing was solid. Everything was in flux. The most substantial stool vibrated, rattling louder and louder. Boxes and vessels fell from the shelves. Ehli-nikkalu heard a cry from the vestibule and felt one rising up her throat. “E-Earthquake! Tarhunta spare us!” she stammered. Should we flee? But where does one go when the earth itself heaves? She tried to stand up, but it was like being on the deck of a ship. He heart bobbled in her mouth.
Then it was over. She and Teshamanu confronted one another, white-faced, clinging to the table as if to hold it down.
“Dear gods!” she said with a half laugh of relief and embarrassment. The secretary blew out the lamp for safety’s sake.
“Yes. Outside, everyone,” she called. Earthquakes were frequent in her homeland too. She knew the ritual. They rushed for the door, ready to follow the handmaids, when Ehli-nikkalu remembered Amaya and the children in the garden. “Oh, they’ll be frightened.”
She turned to the room again to call from the loggia, but Teshamanu held her back. “I wouldn’t walk out on it, if I were you.” He kept hold of her hand, and she followed him once more toward the antechamber to flee.
Then the infernal rumbling began again, as if the very lords of the world were shifting their vast weight, stretching in their blind sleep. From the foundations of the netherworld right up through her feet—the immense roar of some cosmic beast arising that turned her very flesh to liquid. The floor swayed and buckled in a wave, the bed slid into the wall, and the table rose and fell as if it wanted to take flight. She felt the tiles roll beneath her feet, toppling her to her knees, her stomach lurching with seasickness. The noise grew, a great shearing sound, as of cliffs calving into the ocean that surrounded the black earth. A line of daylight opened between the wall and ceiling. The brick and rubble wall on the garden side of the chamber leaned outward—slowly, slowly, curtains fluttering, lintels melting—and plunged with majestic deliberation into the garden, and—slowly, slowly—a vast detonation of sound swallowed her, obliterating all her senses. She was no longer upright but sliding slowly down, her hand loosed from the secretary’s, spread full length on the floor, which was horizontal no longer.
“Teshamanu!” she screamed. Then the world sped up, and everything fell in on top of her.
Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/mdqeeX
N.L. Holmes is the pen name of a professional archaeologist who received her doctorate from Bryn Mawr College. She has excavated in Greece and in Israel and taught ancient history and humanities at the university level for many years. She has always had a passion for books, and in childhood, she and her cousin used to write stories for fun.
These days she lives in France with her husband, two cats, geese, and chickens, where she gardens, weaves, dances, and plays the violin
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/n l.holmes/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/N-L-Holmes/e/B0858H3K7S