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Pharaoh: Volume II of Kleopatra

Pharaoh: Volume II of Kleopatra

3.7 7
by Karen Essex

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Following on from 'Kleopatra', the glittering epic of Egypt's queen continues as she allies herself with Anthony and begins a love story that immortalizes her as one of history's greatest political players and most tragic heroines.


Following on from 'Kleopatra', the glittering epic of Egypt's queen continues as she allies herself with Anthony and begins a love story that immortalizes her as one of history's greatest political players and most tragic heroines.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The second volume of Essex's Kleopatra series, which picks up as the 22-year-old queen of Egypt returns from exile in Rome, overflows with war, sex, political intrigue and the fruits of Essex's assiduous research on everything from ancient Egyptian religious ceremonies to traffic laws in Julius Caesar's Rome. Essex's Kleopatra is ruled by her lust for power. Everything she controls her body, her money is a tool with which to improve her position and that of her country. As she puts it, "In matters of state, let your blood run cold." She joins with Caesar, aligning Egypt with Rome, but when he's murdered, Kleopatra lays the groundwork for a similar association with Antony, to whom she is overwhelmingly attracted. Each of these alliances transcends its political motivation. Kleopatra loves both men, viewing Caesar as a mentor and Antony as a soul mate. Yet this love never clouds her self-promoting vision, making Essex's Kleopatra more than a simple seductress, as she is often portrayed. Indeed, the careful balance Essex strikes between Kleopatra's intimate emotional life and her statecraft makes this a satisfyingly nuanced and approachable portrait. As with its predecessor, the novel's rich language, attention to historical detail and fast-flowing action offer an invigorating read for those interested in ancient history or simply the thrills of battles and romance. (Aug.) Forecast: Essex's Kleopatra must vie with other fictional Cleopatras most notably, Margaret George's (The Memoirs of Cleopatra, 1997) but Kleo-with-a-K has already attracted a following and should continue to sell steadily. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This stunning sequel to Kleopatra completes the story of one of the most celebrated, audacious, admired, and reviled women the world has ever known. History is always written by the victor, and so it was in the case of the political union among Kleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Marcus Antonius. Octavian, Kleopatra's most implacable enemy, much maligned her in his autobiographical papers, and the picture he painted of Kleopatra as ruthless, decadent, and self-indulgent has been passed down through the ages. Essex gives us a new image of the famous ruler, though even she claims in the author's notes that she may have been unkind to Octavian in an effort to balance the historical record. Nonetheless, in Pharaoh we see a queen who carefully and intelligently forges strong political and personal bonds to Rome through Julius Caesar prior to his assassination, then to Antony, Caesar's protege. The deep commitment she feels for these two men, her children, and her country is evident in every page right up to the final climactic moment of her tragic death. Though the plot occasionally bogs down in the morass of historical detail, readers will enjoy the vivid portrayal of Kleopatra and the period in which she lived. Recommended for larger public libraries. Jane Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a follow-up to Kleopatra (2001), Essex again gives the Egyptian queen a feminist tweak in detailing both her love affairs and her accomplished statecraft. Though the evidence is thin, Essex is persuasive that Kleopatra was not an evil seductress, but rather an able ruler, good mother, and devoted wife. The story picks up as the young queen, evading her enemies, arrives back in Alexandria, and, rolled up in a carpet, meets Julius Caesar. The two are soon lovers as well as strategists and intellectual soulmates: Caesar admires her mind, and Kleopatra, believing that an alliance with Rome will help Egypt, deliberately becomes pregnant. She bears a son, Caesarion; travels to Rome with Caesar; and is there when he's assassinated. Escaping the subsequent power struggles, she returns to Egypt and continues her enlightened rule, doing all she can to ensure the survival of Caesarion, now Caesar's only remaining child. When, in the tenth year of her reign, she decides that Mark Antony could be an important ally for her in securing Egypt's alliance with Rome, she gains not only a political partner but also the love of her life. Charming and handsome, Antony, who has defeated Caesar's assassins and now shares the rule of Rome with Octavius and Lepidus, is at the height of his powers. The two marry, she bears him three children, but life for ambitious queens and Roman generals is always perilous. In the 20th year of her rule, they must contend with Octavius, who is ruthlessly eliminating all those opposing his ambition to be emperor. When Antony and Kleopatra's forces are defeated at Actium, the end is inevitable. Even then, Essex suggests, Kleopatra acts as much out of a desire to protect herchildren and kingdom as out of grief. Though Kleopatra sometimes gets lost in all the mayhem and machinations, she is still, with Essex's provocative take, a woman as remarkable as the great men who loved her.

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Kleopatra Series , #2
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.06(d)

What People are Saying About This

Pat Schroeder
For those of us who keep hoping for a woman president, this book is a great read.... (Pat Schroeder, President & CEO Association of American Publishers)

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Pharaoh: Volume II of Kleopatra 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is a fine read if you enjoy historical fiction. i think the first book in this series is better, though. the author's imagery is fantastic, but BEWARE! this book does have a rather STEAMY part...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I felt like I was kleopatra, read all of her books!
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