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Burning Alexandria

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Irwin Gilbert is a hoarder, a bookworm, and after a cosmic event leaves the earth void of all electricity, the owner of what might be the world's largest remaining cache of novels. Irwin has a dilemma, however, the world has turned cold and he has no idea how long it will last. When faced with freezing to death, can he dare to burn "his friends" and how will he choose which will be used to keep him alive.

This short story originally appeared in "The End: Visions of Apocalypse" edited by N.E. White. I wrote it the weekend I learned of Ray Bradbury's death and is a homage to this master of science fiction.

“This epic fantasy showcases the arrival of a master storyteller.” — Library Journal on Theft of Swords

“A delightful, entertaining and page-turning read that reminds us just how enjoyable, and how good The Riyria Revelations series is. A must-buy for all fantasy lovers.” — The Founding Fields on Rise of Empire

“Heir of Novron is the conclusion to the Riyria Revelations, cementing it in a position as a new classic of modern fantasy: traditional in setting, but extremely unconventional in, well, everything else.” — Drying Ink on Heir of Novron

“Snappy banter, desperate stakes, pulse pounding sword play, and good old fashioned heroics are all on full display here.” — 52 Book Reviews on The Crown Tower

“The Rose and the Thorn is full of mystery, adventure, betrayal and just plain awesome.” — Fantasy Faction on The Rose and the Thorn

“This is social science fiction that H.G. Wells or Isaac Asimov could have written, with the cultural touchstones of today. A modernized classic, Hollow World is the perfect novel for both new and nostalgic science fiction readers.” — Staffer’s Book Reviews on Hollow World

28 pages, ebook

First published July 31, 2012

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About the author

Michael J. Sullivan

110 books92.6k followers
Esrahaddon, the last book in the Rise and Fall trilogy, is almost done. Just finished the recording of the audiobook, and the layout. Will pass it by Gamma readers for one last quality check then it's off to the printers!

In other news, Farilane, hit #1 on Amazon's Bestselling Epic Fantasy list! The ebook and audiobook are already released, and the hardcover will release on May 16th.

Thanks for visiting my page! Here are other sites where you can contact me.

I'm a New York Times, USA Today, and Washington Post bestselling author with 9 Goodreads Choice Award Nominations.

I first opened the door to my imagination with typewriter keys while playing hide and seek and finding a black behemoth when I just ten years old. Serious writing started in my twenties, but after more than a decade trying to publish (and getting nowhere), I quit altogether. I returned to writing in 2004, and published my first novel with a small press in 2008. If you had told me that I'd be a New York Times Bestselling author, have 85+ novels translated into 13 languages, and sold more than 2 million copies, I never would have believed you!

But now that we have that out of the way, let me tell you a bit about my books, which can be broken down into two main series.

THE LEGENDS OF THE FIRST EMPIRE: The foundations of Elan are laid by an unlikely band of misfits.

Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between men and those they thought were gods changes forever. Now, only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer. Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom. And Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over; the time of rebellion has begun.

THE RIYRIA REVELATIONS & CHRONICLES: The strongest bonds of friendship are forged in blood.

They killed the king. They pinned it on two men. They chose poorly.
There's no ancient evil to defeat or orphan destined for greatness, just two guys in the wrong place at the wrong time. Royce Melborn, a skilled thief, and his mercenary partner, Hadrian Blackwater, are enterprising thieves who end up running for their lives when they're framed for the death of the king. Trapped in a conspiracy that goes beyond the overthrow of a tiny kingdom, their only hope is unraveling an ancient mystery before it's too late.

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5 stars
49 (25%)
4 stars
85 (44%)
3 stars
49 (25%)
2 stars
7 (3%)
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3 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 35 reviews
Profile Image for Michael.
Author 110 books92.6k followers
April 17, 2015
This is my own story, so I won't be "rating it" but I did want to mention a few things about it. This is a short story I originally wrote for "The End Anthology" a volume dedicated to stories about the end of the world. It came to me on a bike ride the weekend I learned of Ray Bradbury's death and is a homage to him and his iconic work Fahrenheit 451.

I recently discovered a few goodreads groups reading Fahrenheit 451 and so I made my short available for members of their group for free. I'll do likewise to anyone reading this review. Here is a link to get your own copy .

I hope you enjoy the read.
Profile Image for Melki.
5,785 reviews2,340 followers
April 25, 2015
Exposed to the harsh light, Irwin’s living room was little more than a narrow gap between precarious cliffs of books, which ran from floor to ceiling. Hardcovers formed the foundations, trade paperbacks the middle strata, and the little mass markets soared to a cottage-cheese-textured ceiling.

A book lover faces the ultimate quandary - freeze to death or start burning his beloved collection.

For anyone who loves the written word, this is a terrific tale of horror.

I found myself glancing nervously at my shelves, wondering which of my own books could possibly be . . . expendable.
Profile Image for Terence.
1,113 reviews345 followers
October 23, 2022
Electricity has gone out of the world. The weather has gone haywire, leaving Virginia covered by feet of snow on June. Irwin Gilbert is a survivor of what appears to be the apocalypse, but he may freeze to death afterwards. Irwin however is a massive hoarder and happens to have a home jam packed with books. Will Irwin be able to part with his precious books to survive and if so, which books should go?

Burning Alexandria reads like a book loving hoarders worst nightmare. Having the tools to survive, but not wishing to part with them. Irwin recounts various book titles with some cartoon and movie references thrown in for good measure. I did have to laugh at the irony of reading this book on a Kindle. The main character mocks everyone who shifted to e-books as fools and compares them to the people of Troy who let the Trojan Horse beyond their walls.

All in all, Burning Alexandria was a creative idea clearly written by a lover of books.
Profile Image for Wulf Krueger.
339 reviews83 followers
September 18, 2019
Basically, the blurb says it all – a (book) hoarder in a post-apocalyptic world lives among his tons of books and realises he’ll have to burn some of them. Unfortunately, he’s not the brightest bulb (not even in a world without power!) and, thus, disaster happens.

This is a nice-ish short story without any connection to Michael’s other works. It pretty much lives from the setting (books filling a small house entirely – sans a few “paths” - lovely though in theory!), the “name-dropping” (all the big post-modern names appear) and the central dilemma of burning books.

The latter is this short story’s saving grace in my book because as Heinrich Heine, the great German poet, wrote as early as 1823 (and, thus, eerily predicting the Holocaust):

"Dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen.”
("Where books are burned, in the end, people will also be burned.")

Might be worth a read if the above sounds interesting to you but, honestly, you won’t really miss much if you skip this one. If, though, you’ve reached the point at which you secretly (*cough*) adore the ground Michael treadslevitates above, it’s a must-read. ;-)

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Profile Image for Yuki.
223 reviews53 followers
May 4, 2016
Definitely a great read, recommend it to everyone, especially anyone who has read 451 Degrees Fahrenheit.
Profile Image for Scott.
1,156 reviews106 followers
May 28, 2016
A short story about the end of the world. When electricity is gone will the greatest lover of books ever burn them all to stay alive. Worth the time to read but end of the world stories really aren't my thing but it's Michael J. Sullivan so I had to read it.
Profile Image for Ren (A Bookish Balance).
831 reviews96 followers
February 2, 2020
January 31, 2020
1/5 stars

The Burning of Alexandria follows a hermit and hoarder named Irwin during an Apocalypse. All electricity in the world no longer functions and the world has snowed over. This is an extremely short story so I'll stop with the synopsis there.

Unfortunately I did not enjoy this story, it is drowning in pop culture references (namely books and movies), and Irwin is really detestable. While we're meant to dislike him, he's the only character in the story and that gave me nothing to latch on to to like.
Profile Image for Zaz.
1,559 reviews56 followers
April 28, 2015
You can read books, but you can collect them too. Lets face it: we're on Goodreads, so there's a high probability that, in a way, you and me are book hoarders. Now, imagine you're in your house stuffed with books (like a big library, yes I know some of you have this dream) and, outside, there's an apocalypse. A cold apocalypse. What will be your next move? Yes, you don't want to make that decision, but Irwin has to, poor him.

This is a short story, obviously about books, words, paper and authors. It's also a glimpse of loneliness, love and literary culture, all packed in a nice writing style. I was happy to recognize most of the authors and titles listed, so thanks for the choices!
Profile Image for Paul.
1,203 reviews192 followers
September 23, 2015
Extremely short story, that was a dedication of sorts, to Ray Bradbury, and his work Fahrenheit 451. This really is a fan service to all the readers out there that collect books. Irwin is dying in a new ice age but he has 70,000 books to keep him company. He is a hoarder and will not get rid of anything. His holy grail is his floor to ceiling collection of sci-fi and fantasy, that fills the entire living room, except for a small trench to walk through. When Irwin runs out of things to burn for heat, he must make a decision that pains him, can he burn a book to stay alive, and which book does he burn?
Profile Image for May.
685 reviews18 followers
April 23, 2015
Reading about a man who didn't like ereaders in an ereader was indeed funny. It was a very short story, but very interesting. The ending was pretty good and I really liked all the references, even though I am sure I missed some of them.

Edit: I looked up some of the things I was sure were references even though I didn't know where from and now I have a list of thing to watch and read lol
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,027 followers
April 23, 2015
An odd, darkly whimsical tour through some of the better known books & their characters via a hoarder & an emergency. Loved the final fling! I got this for free & read it during lunch. It made it a pleasurable one. Thanks, Michael!
Profile Image for Brittany.
4 reviews1 follower
April 16, 2015
This was a really good short story, definitely somewhat very sad.. I'd recommend a read, and I thank Michael Sullivan for giving us the chance to read it.
89 reviews11 followers
August 25, 2019
Very short story that didn't mesmerize me. But the references to all the books and movies were cool.

And what a kick ass finishing line. I just had too laugh. Brilliant.
Profile Image for Kristen.
578 reviews110 followers
April 29, 2015
A quick fun read, and a wonderful homage to Bradbury, and books in general, I think.

Here are some things that I jotted down as I read it (I do stuff like that. Yeah...).

Story Time!

Before we married, my husband, for the longest time had a copy of Atlas Shrugged on the back of his toilet. He never appeared to read it as it never moved, and I've never had the desire to myself, so one day I asked him why it was there. 'Emergency toilet paper,' he replied. I still have it, years later, though I have moved it to a book shelf in my library. Perhaps I shall put a note on it: 'in case of emergency, use to break a window.'

He would no more act on his joke than I could get rid of a book that neither of us will ever read (in his case, again). But, nonetheless I'm a bit of a book collector myself (obviously not quite as accomplished as our hero, and in terms of being collectable, I'm afraid the best I've accomplished is having my copy of 'Death by Black Hole' signed by Neil deGrasse Tyson- who's name I was pleased to see while reading. I suppose there's still time to add to my collection of collectables, eh?).

I even have a pin on my book bag that quite rightly states that I am not to be trusted in a book store with a credit card. However, with my growing lack of shelf space, I've embraced ebooks with open arms. I admit that this whole one-touch-purchasing-right-from-my-kindle thing has made that book store/credit card deal a tad more difficult, lol.

With all that being said, this story had many references that made me wonder what I would do if placed in a similar situation. Would I burn my books? Would I burn The Wheel of Time? (probably books 8 through 10... let's be honest here, lol). Would I burn Stranger in a Strange Land because I didn't really like it? Would I burn series that I've read that I have no plans on re-reading?

I've always thought of books as sacred. I mean, I've had books damaged in floods that I've kept even after replacing... because one doesn't get rid of books. I have a hard time even selling them to a bookstore.

In a life or death situation though...? Well I'd probably start with that copy of Atlas Shrugged that nobody will ever read, but then... what would I throw at the window?

Also, please tell me that was actually a 'Galaxy Quest' reference. Oh please, oh please!
Profile Image for Carol.
856 reviews32 followers
April 28, 2015
I found it quite ironic that this is a short about a man who at the end of the world had hoarded books against the ebook revolution and I was reading it on my kindle. Anyway on to the review!
I really got this, bit of a book hoarder myself, and honestly I think if the world ended I'd have a hard time without my supply (it's why I love my kindle, going on holidays, small suitcase, thousands of books at my finger tips, bliss!). I would have given this a full five stars because I could fully understand the problem Irwin faces. I'm not sure if I wouldn't rather freeze than start burning my favourite books. So why didn't I give it a full five, simple
Profile Image for Julia Sarene.
1,251 reviews131 followers
July 21, 2015
I've just finished this one, and I loved it!
In fact it was so good, I got on the wrong subway on the way home, and had to go back...

I adore books, I'm interested in people who are not quite normal, and I'm addicted to SciFi and fantasy... I feel like this story was written especially for me!
The thought of having to choose, which books to preserve, and which ones would be lost forever made me cringe! That's like choosing a favorite child...

Not much more I can say about it, without spoiling, so I'll just say: READ IT!
1,588 reviews
April 18, 2015
I just reread this awesome little story... This apocalyptic story is a great homage to Ray Bradbury... It is a story about the love of good books and too much snow...

You know I put this story right up there with other great shorts... Such as: Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu and Emperor of Mars by Allen Steele.
Profile Image for Marie.
795 reviews9 followers
May 11, 2016
I'm so glad I finally got to read this! It's the perfect short story for book lovers (and book hoarders). I'm also very glad that I didn't know anything about it when I started it - the ending actually made me giggle with a strange mixture of horror and delight.
Profile Image for Michael Kotsarinis.
460 reviews122 followers
April 26, 2015
More like 3.5/5

Post-apocalyptic is not really my preferred genre but it was a short story from an author I like. The story itself will ring many bells to book-lovers and the end is so fitting!
October 29, 2020
A morbid idea of a hoarder’s struggle to save themselves.

Very good play on using different books by other great authors in the story and ending with Bradbury really sinks the references.

Good read for people who love reading and are very familiar with books.
Profile Image for Trevor.
3 reviews
December 20, 2021
Love the Ray Bradbury reference
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Carlissa.
522 reviews25 followers
May 1, 2015
I hate to give this such a low rating, but it was just not my cuppa tea. I am probably the only one that did not like Fahrenheit 451. I did like the part about ereaders though as I have been reading ebooks for more than 10 years and don't know what I would do without an ereader!

I loved all the rest of the books that Mr. Sullivan wrote, though, and am eagerly waiting for his next series to come out!
Profile Image for Martin Forbes.
22 reviews14 followers
April 14, 2015
Wow i liked this short Story, the Story about Irwin it is a bit Sad, he is a bit of a loner but he likes it as it is he has his Books many Books and his Theorys but then everything..... that is where i stop you have to read it for yourself this 27 Sites brings you for a short while in Irwins World so read and have Fun reading this nice sad short Story :)
Profile Image for Lori.
192 reviews5 followers
May 25, 2015
I do not love it like I love Hadrian and Royce. Short stories are not my favorite things to read. This one made me think. Since I especially love my Kindle, it really made me think about readers. I definitely see why it was a tribute to Ray Bradbury. It put me in the mind of Farenheit 451. Nice work, Michael, even though it's very different from your other writing.
58 reviews
December 12, 2015
A perfect tribute to Ray Bradbury. It's achingly and hauntingly poetic—the writings flows beautifully and transports you to this world of isolation and cold where a man sits hundled between pillars of words. Highly recommended for anyone and everyone. It's a short read so at least there's nothing to lose, right?
Displaying 1 - 30 of 35 reviews

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