Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

Published in 2009.

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 vengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their orphaned children - ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander - are taken in chains to Rome. 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. (book flap blurb)

I had wanted to read this book since it came out so when I won it from a fellow blogger's contest, I was thrilled! Especially since I'm such a huge fan of the HBO series, Rome. When I was reading I kept envisioning the characters with the faces of the actors in the show.

The writing just sucks you in and keeps you reading from cover to cover. Considering the length of this book, it only took me a couple of days to read it all. I couldn't put it down and didn't want to when I had to.

There's enough history included in the text to give you a great idea of just what high Roman life was like during that time but not so much you felt like you were getting information dumped on you. That's a sign of an excellent writer that knows to keep herself behind the pages and the characters in the forefront. I'm sure there could have been so much more added regarding Roman life but if it had been, too much author knowledge would have seeped through. It's hard to do such meticulous research and not include everything you find but the final product speaks for itself.

I had a hard time imagining the kids in this book speaking like they did and being as young as they were but like the addendum in the back of the book states, these were children being groomed as royalty. They're not going to be children but future rulers so they're, unfortunately, not going to get a chance to act like children.

I felt so bad for the romantic situation Selene was in and I felt for her every time she had a pang when looking at Marcellus or when he would do something for her. In the back of my mind I was rooting for her but, unfortunately, I knew how his story ended so I knew, considering how strict to historical facts Michelle was, that that story line wasn't going to deviate. And while I didn't know Selene's history and where she ended up, I saw her arranged marriage coming from pretty early on. The hints are subtle enough that even someone who doesn't know that part of history can pick up on it.

It's hard to imagine that life was so much more precarious back then than it is now and how, at someone's word, a person can just be killed for any reason, or none at all. This book had all the drama, love and torment of any good modern novel, except this could have actually happened. While we're not too privy to what went on behind closed doors with the twins, a lot of inferences can be made based on what we do know. Bringing history to life is such an awesome power to wield and I think Michelle does an excellent job of raising these long-dead figures from their graves. This book has made me want to know more about Selene and Juba and read up on Alexander. Did Octavian really break Alexander the Great's finger taking his ring? What happened to Cleopatra's mausoleum? I can look at my pictures of the Pantheon and see Agrippa's name on there and they mean that much more.

If you're a fan of historical fiction, be sure not to miss this one. You'll regret it if you do.


Addicted Book Reader said...

Great review : ) I loved Cleopatra's Daughter so much! It was such an amazing book because it was filled with historical events intertwined with romance and adventure which made it so awesome to read. I really want to read her two other books, since Cleo's Daughter was so good.

pirate penguin said...

excellent review! I loved this book from start to finish and I was just as sad to leave Selene when I had to. I really loved her character. :)

Michelle Moran said...

Hi Donna,

I know you won a copy of THE HERETIC QUEEN in Paradox's contest a while back, and I would like to thank you for taking the time to post a review of CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER. I am so glad you enjoyed it!!!!!

As for your questions ;] Octavian really did break the nose of Alexander the Great while trying to tug the ring from his dead finger (ugh). And Cleopatra's Mausoleum is currently under water off the coast of Alexandria.

Donna said...

Thanks, everyone! I'd love to scuba to see that mausoleum!

Michelle Moran said...

It's possible! I'm not sure you can see the stones of the mausoleum per se (at least, I didn't), but I participated in an underwater dive while in Alexandria and saw the stones of Marc Antony's summer palace. I wrote about it (briefly) here:

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