Set against a background of the Jewish Revolt against Rome of 66-70CE, The Lost Wisdom of the Magi tells the story of Sophia, a Babylonian Jew who learns ancient languages at the royal archives of the Parthians and secretly studies the magic on cuneiform tablets. She 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 revolutionary Jerusalem is far from the paradise of which they had dreamed, and messiahs may prove false.
After the devastating defeat, Sophia flees to Alexandria, where she founds an academy for women scholars. These are her memoirs, addressed to her ‘disciples’, to whom she recounts her experiences, expounds her ‘wisdom’ and details her magical recipes.
The novel reflects meticulous research on early Christianity and ‘Second Temple’ Jewish history, also weaving in fanciful material from Christian and Jewish lore.
Susie Helme is an American ex-pat living in London, after sojourns in Tokyo, Paris and Geneva, with a passion for ancient history and politics, and magic, mythology and religion. After a career in mobile communications journalism, she has retired to write historical novels and grow organic vegetables.