When We Were Gods: A Novel of Cleopatra

Colin Falconer, Author
Colin Falconer, Author Crown Publishers $22.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-609-60599-8
Reviewed on: 12/04/2000
Release date: 12/01/2000
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Falconer's (Rough Justice) swift-moving historical novel adds new twists and modern dialogue to an oft-told tragic tale. Fifty-one years before the birth of Jesus Christ, in the fertile Nile valley, 18-year-old Cleopatra ascends to the throne of Egypt upon the death of her father, Ptolemy XII. Inheriting a palace that more closely resembles a snake pit than a home, crowded with family and advisers, Cleopatra must come to terms with the heavy burden of royalty and its inevitable loneliness. Her only trusted friend is Mardian, the giant eunuch who has been her tutor since childhood. From an Egypt desperately attempting to retain its hold on ancient religions and traditions in a rapidly changing world, to the hypocritical halls of the Roman Republic, the young queen weaves her web of seduction, ensnaring not only the cold, driven Julius Caesar but also a playful Marcus Antonius. Falconer's Cleopatra is vulnerable, intelligent and liberated, defined by her wit as much as by her beauty. This fresh take on one of history's leading ladies is smoothly written, slickly couching ancient history in the contemporary rhetoric of female empowerment. (Dec.)
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