cover image Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra

Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra

Anne and Christopher Rice. Anchor, $16 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-1-101-97032-4

In this slick sequel to The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned (1989), immortals gifted with virtual indestructibility scheme as nastily against one another as the similarly endowed characters in Anne Rice’s celebrated Vampire Chronicles. Having imbibed a life-prolonging elixir, pharaoh Ramses the Great is still alive in 1914, when he poses as the dashing Reginald Ramsey and takes his fiancé, Julie Stratford, on a tour through England and other interesting locales. The resurrected corpse of the former empress Cleopatra is likewise wandering the globe. Separately, Cleopatra’s soul has been reincarnated in Sybil Parker, an American writer of historical romances that are patterned unconsciously on events from the lives of the immortals (and that read much like this novel). Then the ancient empress Bektaten, who first discovered the immortality elixir, enters the picture, along with her conniving former prime minister, Saqnos, who for centuries has been trying to wheedle the formula out of her. Cleopatra, Ramses, and Saqnos vie against one another and Bektaten in their quest to understand and control the magical potion. In their first literary collaboration, the Rices, mother and son, configure these subplots into an entertaining soap opera replete with romantic alliances, betrayals, and ends left tantalizingly loose as grist for sequels. Fans of both authors’ work will enjoy this one and agree with Sybil’s observation that “stories of romance and adventure and magic helped us to imagine a better world into being.” (Dec.)