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Kleopatra by Karen Essex: A Book Review

Kleopatra
Author: Karen Essex
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: 2009
Pages: 402
Source: My State Public Library
Synopsis: High drama and ancient history combine in this novel of the early life of Egypt's infamous queen, at once a beautiful seductress, brilliant politician, and the most powerful ruler of her time.

     My Review: Kleopatra tells the story of Kleopatra VII’s earlier years. The story begins when Kleopatra is three years old and she cannot speak Greek. Over time, Kleopatra learns many languages. The story also tells Kleopatra’s life as a child who roam’s Alexandria’s streets. She is shown to be clever and has a respect for the Egyptian culture. She also learns Roman alliances as the only way to ensure her family’s dynasty. One day, Alexandria’s mob are furious with her father, and he runs away to Rome taking Kleopatra along with him. He learns that his wife, Kleopatra VI and his daughter, Berenice IV betrays him. Kleopatra and Ptolemy XII beseech the Romans to restore Ptolemy's rightful place to the throne.

     I really like Kleopatra’s portrayal in this novel. She is a tomboy, and likes to dress up as a boy to mingle with her people. This book shows Kleopatra’s love for Egypt and its culture. She is also the cleverest person in her family. Her father greatly trusts her and in Rome, he often relies on her advice. She is also bold and often speaks her mind. However, she does have her flaws. She can be unforgiving to those who betray her. Still, she is compassionate to her people and wants to be a great queen.

   Overall, Kleopatra is an in-depth psyche about how Kleopatra transforms herself from an insignificant princess to be the Queen of Egypt. It shows how her upbringing affects the decisions and the woman she becomes when she becomes pharaoh. Kleopatra learns from her father’s and sister's mistakes in how she can rule. I also thought that this novel does a great job in the characterization of the other supporting characters. They are very complex and we get to see the motives behind their actions. The only thing that I dislike about this novel was that it was very slow, and I was not really interested in the story until Kleopatra is in Rome. The part where Kleopatra and her father are in Rome was very fascinating. Despite its slow beginning, this was an excellent portrait of Kleopatra. This is a novel not to be missed by fans of Kleopatra. I recommend this novel to fans of Michelle Moran, Margaret George, and Stephanie Dray.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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