Saturday, March 20, 2010

Book Review: Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s revengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome; only two– the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander–survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts. 

The fateful tale of Selene and Alexander is brought brilliantly to life in 
Cleopatra’s Daughter. Recounted in Selene’s youthful and engaging voice, it introduces a compelling cast of historical characters: Octavia, the emperor Octavian’s kind and compassionate sister, abandoned by Marc Antony for Cleopatra; Livia, Octavian's bitter and jealous wife; Marcellus, Octavian’s handsome, flirtatious nephew and heir apparent; Tiberius, Livia’s sardonic son and Marcellus’s great rival for power; and Juba, Octavian’s watchful aide, whose honored position at court has far-reaching effects on the lives of the young Egyptian royals. 

Selene’s narrative is animated by the concerns of a young girl in any time and place–the possibility of finding love, the pull of friendship and family, and the pursuit of her unique interests and talents. While coping with the loss of both her family and her ancestral kingdom, Selene must find a path around the dangers of a foreign land. Her accounts of life in Rome are filled with historical details that vividly capture both the glories and horrors of the times. She dines with the empire’s most illustrious poets and politicians, witnesses the creation of the Pantheon, and navigates the colorful, crowded marketplaces of the city where Roman-style justice is meted out with merciless authority. 

Based on meticulous research, 
Cleopatra’s Daughter is a fascinating portrait of imperial Rome and of the people and events of this glorious and most tumultuous period in human history. Emerging from the shadows of the past, Selene, a young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, will capture your heart.

My Review:

Being the daughter of Queen Kleopatra, Selene has learned from a young age what is expected of her. Being groomed as a princess of Egypt, her schooling has been thorough and she has acquired a vast knowledge of many subjects. Unfortunately, before she is able to put her skills and wisdom to use for the good of Egypt, her mother and father are conquered by Octavian, who is in all but title the ruler of Rome. Selene is torn away from her beloved Egypt and sent with her brother Alexander to Rome, where their fate will rest in the hands of the unmerciful Octavian...

As Selene's fate hangs in the balance, she tries her best to rise above her circumstances and make the most of the situation. She puts all her effort into making herself useful to Octavian with the hope that he will award her efforts by sending her back to Egypt. When tragedy strikes, Selene quickly realizes that while her life is controlled by Octavian, there is no possibility of ever regaining all that has been lost and if she does not do something about it her fate will be miserable. When the daring and mysterious rebel "The Red Eagle" appears, she wonders if he might be her sole chance in returning to Egypt and all that she loves; but with spies and Octavian's ruthless men everywhere, she must be careful in her actions for not only does her fate hang in the balance but so does the blood line of Queen Kleopatra and Marc Antony...

Michelle Moran has done it again! I have loved her two previous novels and this one is no exception. With exceptional detail, she takes the reader on a journey from the glimmering city of Alexandria to the crowded and ruthless Rome. With a cast of characters that are all three dimensional, a wonderful and compelling story is created that captures the readers attention and stays with you long after the last page is read. This book was also full of twists that kept you guessing until the end, resulting in complete jaw-dropped shock a few times. I loved reading about the vast difference between Egypt and Rome; these are two places that have always interested  me and it was great to learn about them in such an enjoyable way. If you want an excellent book that has love, suspense, and beautiful scenery, you can't go wrong with Cleopatra's Daughter.

A Little Extra:
The Wonderful author Michelle Moran has graciously offered one autographed copy of her latest novel Cleopatra's Daughter...but that's not all! The winner will also be given an authentic Roman Coin complete with certificate of authenticity. Follow this link to for a chance to win: Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran.

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