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Cleopatra's Daughter: A Novelby Michelle Moran
Synopses & Reviews
August 12, 30 BC
WHILE WE waited for the news to arrive, we played dice. I felt the small ivory cubes stick in my palms as I rolled a pair of ones. Snake eyes, I said, fanning myself with my hand. Even the stir of a sea breeze through the marble halls of our palace did little to relieve the searing heat that had settled across the city.
It's your turn, Alexander said. When our mother didn't respond, he repeated, Mother, it's your turn.
But she wasn't listening. Her face was turned in the direction of the sea, where the lighthouse of our ancestors had been built on the island of Pharos to the east. We were the greatest family in the world, and could trace our lineage all the way back to Alexander of Macedon. If our father's battle against Octavian went well, the Ptolemies might rule for another three hundred years. But if his losses continued_._._.
Selene, my brother complained to me, as if I could get our mother to pay attention.
Ptolemy, take the dice, I said sharply.
Ptolemy, who was only six, grinned. It's my turn?
Yes, I lied, and when he laughed, his voice echoed in the silent halls. I glanced at Alexander, and perhaps because we were twins, I knew what he was thinking. I'm sure they haven't abandoned us, I whispered.
What would you do if you were a servant and knew that Octavian's army was coming?
We don't know that his army is coming, I snapped, but when the sound of sandals slapped through the halls, my mother finally looked in our direction.
Selene, Alexander, Ptolemy, get back
We abandoned our game and huddled on the bed, but it was only her servants, Iras and Charmion.
What? What is it? my mother demanded.
A group of soldiers
Your husband's, Charmion cried. She had been with our family for twenty years, and I had never seen her weep. But as she shut the door, I saw that her cheeks were wet. They are coming with news, Your Highness, and I'm afraid--
Don't say it My mother closed her eyes briefly. Just tell me. Has the mausoleum been prepared?
Iras blinked away her tears and nodded. The last of the palace's treasures are being moved inside. And_._._._and the pyre has been built exactly as you wanted.
I reached for Alexander's hand. There's no reason our father won't beat them back. He has everything to fight for.
Alexander studied the dice in his palms. So does Octavian.
We both looked to our mother, Queen Kleopatra VII of Egypt. Throughout her kingdom she was worshipped as the goddess Isis, and when the mood took her, she dressed as Aphrodite. But unlike a real goddess, she was mortal, and I could read in the muscles of her body that she was afraid. When someone knocked on the door, she tensed. Although this was what we had been waiting for, my mother hesitated before answering, instead looking at each of her children in turn. We belonged to Marc Antony, but only Ptolemy had inherited our father's golden hair. Alexander and I had our mother's coloring, dark chestnut curls and amber eyes. Whatever the news, be silent, she warned us, and when she called, in a steady voice, Come in, I held my breath.
Transport to the colorful and dangerous court of imperial Rome and into the remarkable lives of two young captives-- the children of Cleopatra, Egypt's most powerful and notorious ruler, and her lover Marc Antony. Taken in chains to Rome as ten-year-olds, twins Selene and Alexander cling to each other, and to the hope of one day returning...
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.
About the Author
MICHELLE MORAN is the author of the bestselling Nefertiti and The Heretic Queen. Her experiences at archaeological sites around the world motivated her to write historical fiction and continue to provide inspiration for her novels.
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