Gillian Bradshaw, Author . Forge $25.95 (447p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0228-1

Fascinating historical figures—Julius Caesar, Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra—roam the ancient Egyptian desert and the glittering city of Alexandria in this latest from classics scholar Bradshaw (The Sand-Reckoner). The hero is Cleopatra's son Caesarion, whom she has declared to be Caesar's offspring. Her ploy fails when Caesar's adopted Roman son and successor, Octavian (later Augustus), conquers Egypt and sends soldiers to attack troops fleeing with the 18-year-old Caesarion. The young man, after suffering an epileptic fit, is left for dead, but has only been wounded. Waking, he escapes, but another fit leaves him unconscious on a desert roadway, where Ani, an Egyptian merchant with a small caravan of merchandise, finds and saves him. Caesarion, who is Greek (like all royalty in Egypt at this time), is intelligent enough to conceal his background, calling himself Arion, but he cannot hide his aristocratic ways or his disdain for a mere Egyptian who treats a king as a commoner. He resents the merchant, but agrees at last to write his letters for him. Slowly, the patient and generous Ani wins Arion's respect; his beautiful daughter Melanthe falls in love with Arion, who is interested, but cannot acknowledge loving a commoner. While the story is light on action, Bradshaw's attention to Arion's growth into a caring person and the convincing historical detail she musters give the novel substance, but it is the final (and thoroughly fictional) confrontation between Octavian and Caesarion that will truly make it attractive to history buffs. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/03/2002
Release date: 06/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-613-70876-0
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 978-0-312-70656-2
Ebook - 496 pages - 978-1-4299-7112-6
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-7653-0229-8
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