Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cleopatra's Daughter

by Michelle Moran

Michelle Moran really knows how to bring the past to life. Nefertiti and The Heretic Queen were vivid and captivating, but nothing like Cleopatra’s Daughter. Each time I opened the book I was transported to Alexandria or Rome and the way they were in 1st century BC. Any time I had a few seconds, I would pick it up; I just could not get enough of it, and I actually read the last page twice because I didn’t want to finish.

Has anyone read The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy? It’s another one of my favorite books, and this one reminds me very much of it - a man disguising himself to right a wrong. Though instead of freeing aristocrats from the guillotine, the Red Eagle in Cleopatra’s Daughter is trying his best to free the slaves, or at least give them rights under Roman law. I loved the sense of adventure and mystery that accompanied the normal drama and tragedy of Rome taking over Egypt and snatching Selene and Alexander from their homeland.

The cruelty of Octavian (Augustus) was just limitless. Just as Selene and Alexander are finally getting used to Rome and its strange ways, Octavian strikes a shocking blow. Well, the author does tell you all along it’s going to happen, but by that point in the book, you’re really hoping that it won’t and that Octavian will have changed his mind and opted for mercy. Nope. Octavian is heartless, and even though the event was expected, it still brought a tear to my eye. That is one of Michelle’s many talents; she can tell you something will happen, and when it does, it still surprises you.

The depth of her characters is another one of her talents; Julia especially thrilled me because she’s at first portrayed as a spoiled rich kid, but once the reader gets to know her, she actually has more to her, such as her fierce loyalty and honest nature. Juba was another one that I loved because he was also a captive from another country that Rome conquered, but still showed loyalty and allegiance to Octavian, as well as treating Gallia and others with respect.

Each one of Michelle Moran’s books has gotten better and better. Cleopatra’s Daughter so far is my favorite of her collection, but I have yet to read Madame Tussaud, which has been on my reading list for months. Hopefully soon! Ms Moran is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors, and if you like historical fiction, you’ll love her.

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