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Original Essays

The Alexandria Link Revealed

by Steve Berry
  1. The Alexandria Link: A Novel
    $3.95 Used Hardcover add to wishlist

  2. The Templar Legacy
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    The Templar Legacy

    Steve Berry

  3. The Romanov Prophecy
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    The Romanov Prophecy

    Steve Berry

  4. The Amber Room
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    The Amber Room

    Steve Berry

  5. The Third Secret: A Novel of Suspense
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Ideas come at the most unlikely times. For me, it happened one evening in Camden, South Carolina. I was there for an appearance at a local bookstore when the husband of our host asked if I'd ever heard of a man named Kamal Salibi. When I said no, he told me about three books Salibi had written, beginning in the late 1980s. Intrigued, I went back to his house and he showed me the books. I asked if I could borrow them and he graciously agreed. Though it was late and my mind was tired, that little voice inside my head was screaming, There's a thriller here somewhere.

And the voice was right.

Three years later that story materialized when I started writing The Alexandria Link.

The story line is unique: a Middle Eastern-thriller-with-a-rip-roaring-twist, a surprise that challenges accepted truths and strikes at the very heart of the core beliefs of millions of people. And then of course there is the Library of Alexandria. The ancient world's greatest cache of knowledge — 500,000 manuscripts, each created and kept meticulously for centuries. Yet, by 600 C.E., every one of them had vanished. To this day, not a single manuscript from that collection has been found.

But here's what really intrigued me.

What if one of those manuscripts, an irrefutable document, could not only challenge but shatter truths that have implications not only for all three of the world's major religions, but the dangerous game of global politics, as well? And get this: From historical sources that have survived, we know that such a manuscript did in fact exist in the library of Alexandria.

That's what Cotton Malone is facing in The Alexandria Link.

As in my first four novels — The Amber Room, The Romanov Prophecy, The Third Secret, and The Templar Legacy — history plays a pivotal role. So does action, as the plot moves across the globe from Denmark to England to Portugal, finally climaxing in one of the most desolate places on earth.

I spent eighteen months researching and writing The Alexandria Link. I employed around 300 sources and spent four days in Portugal, at the abbey in Belem, to fully develop the scenes that would ultimately unfold there. But it is a novel, so, in the back of the book is a writer's note that explains where I drew the line between fact and fiction. (One word of caution on that, though: Don't read it first; it'll give away the whole story.)

I've long carried an interest in the library of Alexandria. It was the grandest collection of knowledge in the ancient world: part university, part laboratory, part research institute, part zoo. An impressive complex of buildings and gardens (situated in two separate locations), resembling a Greek temple, each with richly decorated lecture and banquet halls linked by colonnaded walks. Founded in the fourth century B.C.E., it lasted for six hundred years, staffed by Greek scientists, philosophers, artists, writers, and scholars, containing a vast collection, over 500,000 scrolls and papyri. If any book was found aboard a ship that visited Alexandria, the law required it to be taken to the library and copied.

And all that disappeared.

Without a trace.

What could be more fascinating?

Libraries themselves are fascinating. I currently serve as chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Camden County library, so the institutions are near and dear to my heart. The one in Alexandria was unparalleled — so many manuscripts written by so many learned people, many of whom ultimately became the "fathers of their respective fields." History noted that human knowledge was set back centuries when that library eventually vanished.

Here's just one example: The atomic theory was actually first conceived at Alexandria two thousand years ago, but it would be centuries before it was "re-discovered" by another inquisitive mind. Where would human technology be today if that first spark had not been extinguished? Ancient man clearly recognized the logic and convenience of having knowledge assimilated. Unfortunately, the library of Alexandria represented one of the first and last attempts, of that age, to accomplish the task. After its demise, it was not until the Middle Ages, 800 years later, that man duplicated the endeavor.

This is my fifth thriller and Cotton Malone's second exploit. At least two more Cotton Malone adventures are coming — one in 2008 (which I'm hard at work writing), the next in 2009 — but, for now, I hope everyone enjoys The Alexandria Link. spacer

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