Book Review: Cleopatra’s Heir by Gillian Bradshaw

cleopatra's heir front coverCleopatra’s Heir is a “what if” tale, an alternative history documenting what might have happened to King Ptolemy Caesar, or Caesarion, if he had escaped being murdered by the victorious Romans after the conquest of Egypt.  A conquest that saw both his mother, Queen Cleopatra, and his step-father, Mark Antony, commit suicide.

The son of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, Caesarion would never have been allowed to live by the Romans, whether or not he held any political motives to recapture his lost crown.  He would have been seen as a potential figurehead, a rallying point for dissent and rebellion.  And the Romans were very good at stamping out such characters (as were many dynasties, empires and kingdoms in the ancient world and later), long before they had the chance to act.

So, Cleopatra’s Heir tells the story of Caesarion, beginning with the boy waking up on his own funeral pyre.  What follows is an interesting possibility of what might have happened to the young man in the days and weeks after.

We witness his reaction to certain historical events and see through his eyes how he might have perceived his mother as well as other notable figures.  But it is perhaps his interactions with the poor peasants that he comes across where his greatest lessons lie.

I found Cleopatra’s Heir to be a riveting read.  I especially liked the portrayal of Caesarion’s conflicting character and emotions: on the one hand he is a king and above everyone and everything, with the weight of dynasty on his shoulder, on the other he is mourning the loss of his life, family and is trying to understand what real kindness means.

The historical detail found throughout the book portrays an accurate and well-researched reconstruction of Egypt at the time of the Roman conquest.  And, I do not doubt that those who enjoy alternate history or their fiction set in the ancient world, would enjoy this also.  It’s worth it for the tour of ancient Egypt alone! 🙂


3 thoughts on “Book Review: Cleopatra’s Heir by Gillian Bradshaw

  1. Pingback: Sammi Loves Books – Year in Review 2016 | Sammi Loves Books

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