First historical fiction blog hop

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This post is in response to Jessica Knauss’ “Historical Blog Hop” – ten sentences from In a Milk and Honeyed Land.

The setting here is that Damariel, village priest of the town of Kephrath, has just got back from a journey to be told by his friend Kothar that his wife Qetirah has died during his absence. He had departed after an argument and had stayed away longer than he had originally intended.

The two men embraced again, clung to each other for a long heartbeat, and then Kothar set off down the track to Shaharti’s house and the almond tree around the door. Damariel, left on his own, sat in the porch under his vine for a long time, looking across the stones of the high place, before gathering the torn halves of his kef and walking the slow path to the tomb of Kinreth’s family. Sitting in front of her resting place he took the knife he used for sacrifices and cut two long gashes down his arms and another across his chest.

He stayed by the great stone that sealed up the tomb most of the night, lying full-length with his face down on the flat stony space in front of it. The night went very slowly, and the chill in his heart swallowed up the chill from the cold, damp ground below as the blood from his arms soaked into the soil. At one point, when the stars had wheeled above him
for some hours, he found himself so racked with uncontrollable shivers that his own life seemed to be clinging only by a thread to the world on this side. For a little while it seemed best just to give in to the desire to let himself slip across the boundary. It was only a little step: how well he knew that. Ketty would be waiting just the other side. It was not far to go.

He wondered, in the slow, heavy way his icy thoughts allowed, if she would be angry about the extra time in Hatsor.

The next part of the book deals with the life changes Damariel has to make to adjust to his changed situation, and his responses to the person he considers responsible. Thanks, Jessica, for the opportunity of doing this!

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8 thoughts on “First historical fiction blog hop”

  1. I am sure Damariel get through his initial grief–so insistent in this passage–but how will he cope with the guilt of not being there? Excellent characterization in these 10 lines.

  2. Hi Stephanie
    thanks! (and to Elizabeth and Jenna as well). Cutting yourself is a grief ritual in many societies. My book is set in Late Bronze Age Canaan, and later Israelite writings warn against this practice as a way to distance themselves from the Canaanites… though it seems clear that despite this many Israelites copied the habit. For Damariel it is a normal part of mourning the loss of his wife.

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