Monday, September 07, 2009
Moran, Michelle. 2009. Cleopatra's Daughter. Crown Publishers. 448 pages.
While we waited for the news to arrive, we played dice.
No doubt you've heard of Cleopatra and her tragic love affair with Marc Antony. But have you ever given much thought to Cleopatra's children? Did you ever even think of Cleopatra as being a mother? I know I hadn't.
This one begins with the death of Marc Antony and Cleopatra, but the story is far from over. And most of it takes place in the heart of the Roman empire--in Rome itself. It stars Cleopatra's twins, Selene and Alexander. (But the narrator of this one is Selene.) The two are taken by Octavian (aka Augustus, emperor) and brought to Rome where they'll be paraded around a bit. (He's returned victorious and what better way to show off than by parading around Antony's and Cleopatra's children around as slaves.)
But the two live with Octavia. (She's the sister to Octavian; and the former wife of Marc Antony.) But surprisingly, she's not bitter. True, she lost her husband to Cleopatra, but she's happy to welcome his children into her home and into her protection. The book follows what happens to them as they grow up, as they adapt to living life the Roman way (relatively free considering they're 'captives', but they're not truly free. They don't have the freedom to return to Egypt, to Alexandria. They know they are pawns for the Emperor, and that's all they'll ever be.)
Life with royalty--or near royalty--is complex. There are so many things going on--social and political and economic. The story has many players, characters, Marcellus, Julia, Juba (II), Livia, Agrippa, etc. (You might have heard of a few of these characters.) It REALLY helped that I'd read I, Claudius and was such a big fan.
Did I like it? Yes. Definitely. Did I love it as much as The Heretic Queen or Nefertiti? Not really. I found Ancient Egypt a bit more fascinating (to me) than Ancient Rome. But what both books offer is great escape. The details in all three are amazingly crafted. You really get a sense of the time period and the culture.
I'd recommend this one to those that love history and historical fiction. An interest of politics is a plus--though not absolutely essential. It doesn't have as much of a focus on romance as her two previous novels.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews