Review: The Moon That Fell from Heaven by N.L. Holmes

Today, I'm delighted to share my review of The Moon That Fell from Heaven, by ancient historical fiction author, N.L. Holmes. A fascinating tale about love, courtly intrigues, and ancient civilisations.

It's currently on blog tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club. Check out all the other fascinating posts here!

The Moon That Fell From Heaven

N. L. Holmes

I rarely read historical fiction set in ancient times, but author N.L. Holmes has made a name for herself as an author focusing on the more obscure characters of the times. This makes a welcome change to the numerous novels about the same royal (usually Egyptian) families.

As an archaeologist, she brings in an added layer of knowledge that adds authenticity and depth to her intriguing plots. And it really shows in The Moon That Fell from Heaven.

Ehli-nikkalu is a daughter of a powerful Hittite ruler, and married to one of his vassals, King Niqmaddu of Ugarit. It's no love match, and lacking even her husband's respect, Ehli-nikkalu dreams of a family – something that he denies her. When she discovers her husband's plot, she tries to warn her father, but Niqmaddu's suspicions give way to anger. His mother is another who puts pressure on her, so she finds herself with few allies. Caught between her loyalty to her father, and her scheming husband, Ehli-nikkalu is forced to look out for her own safety.

The novel is slow to take off, with useful descriptions of the setting and era, which paints a picture of time and place in the reader's mind. It provided an authentic backdrop to the intriguing plot that starts to unravel slowly. But once we've reached that point, the plot becomes utterly immersive.

I must admit I didn't like Ehli-nikkalu early on. She's spoilt, wilful, headstrong, with a high opinion of herself. But as the story progresses, we see another side of her that emerges out of the situation she finds herself in, and from her loneliness. And to be fair, as a daughter of a Hittite ruler, of course she'd behave befitting her status. Her change is fascinating to discover.

There is a plethora of secondary characters, and at times I had to check who was who, but they're all well-drawn, individual, and very much of their time.
The research untertaken is exquisite. The author shares her knowledge in a way that we can easily imagine the places where Ehli-nikkalu walked. We get a real sense of 'being there', as the author paints a vivid picture of life, religion, politics, and the dangers people found themselves in. 

The Moon That Fell from Heaven is a fascinating amalgamation of political intrigues, power and ambition, and also of personal hopes and dreams. It is that most basic of human needs – the wish for a family and respect – that makes this novel a very special one. 
I'd recommend this novel to historical fiction readers who love dangerous intrigues, in a setting that's true to its time and place.


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.

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About the Author:

N. L. Holmes

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.

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