by Michelle Moran
Source: I received this book for review from the author and publisher.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars!
Wow! I loved this book! 'Cleopatra's Daughter' is one of the best books I have read for a long time! Cleopatra Selene, her twin brother, Alexander, and their young brother Ptolemy suffer the loss of their parents, Cleopatra and Marc Antony, when Romans invade Egypt. As the children of the King and Queen of Egypt, Selene and her brothers are forcibly taken to Rome, essentially as prizes of the war. The story takes flight after their arrival in Rome and the twins adjust to a vastly different lifestyle than they knew in Egypt. Octavian is the ruler of Rome and the person responsible for their parents'deaths, but they have no choice to obey and trust him because he is repsonsible for their livelihood. Octavian has the children live with his kind sister and her son, but still their fates are ominously uncertain. When they arrive in Rome, Selene and Alexander are only eleven and not a threat to Octavian, but will they still be safe when they reach adulthood at 15?
Each and every character leapt off the page and their vivid personalities were based on historical record. Selene was definitely her mother's daughter, an intelligent, strong girl, not afraid to stand up for herself and what she believes in. Her compassion for the less fortunate showed her soft and caring side. Selene had a passion for drawing and her talent for sketching buildings impressed even Octavian.
Selene's peers were more interested in betting on chariot races and shopping than participating in her scholarly and charitable pursuits, but they were definitely supportive of her and more idealistic than the older generation. Selene loves getting attention from Octavian's nephew and probable heir, Marcellus. Marcellus is handsome, young, and carefree, and clearly admires Selene's beauty as well as her morals. Selene fails to notice that Juba, one of Octavian's most trusted guards, admires her as well for her strength and hope along with her humanitarian endeavors.
I loved the portrayal of Selene's relationship with Alexander. As twins, they had an incredibly close bond that was strengthened by the loss of their family and home. Sometimes they felt like all they had was each other. They were much more learned than most Romans, due to their mother's guidance, and they would speak to each other in languages that no one else could understand. Moran really captured their deep bond, affection for each other, and even playfulness.
The author added the fictional character of the Red Eagle to represent those Romans who fought against slavery. The identity of the Red Eagle is a secret and the mystery surrounding him and his adventures add a lot of excitement to the story.
Michelle Moran really brought Selene's world alive. She told an epic story but never lost sight of the everyday details of ancient Rome. I felt like I could see Juba's statues, Selene's scrolls, and Marcellus and Alexander's betting dice. My only complaint about this book is that at 400 pages, it was over too soon! I feel like there is much more of Selene's story to be told, and really hope that Moran has plans for a sequel!