The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s vengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome, but only two— the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander— survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.
The book is beautifully written. There is a nice, steady flow to the writing which makes it a page turner. The author manages to weave fiction (minimal) & facts (more) together to make up a beautiful story of love, patriotism, cruelty & betrayal. The best part was getting to know so much about ancient Rome, its tradition, its rulers, its history through the eyes of a foreign princess who is as new to everything as we as readers are. Being far ahead of her times in terms of thinking, her thoughts are often similar to our own thinking & it becomes easy to identify with her. While we are aware of some of the modern amenities like hot water baths, guide books, etc which the Romans had developed in their times, other things like painted marble statues instead of the plain white ones which are popular today come as a surprise. The love story is simple yet appealing. The story of the red eagle could have been better developed. It lacks the political cunning which such stories need. It is very naive & hence it becomes very easy to guess who the red eagle is which takes away some of the fun from the read. The insights into the society & mindset of these ancient people make me glad to be born in this age, in a free country where no one but me can make my decisions. You appreciate the value of freedom when you see the sufferings of slaves & war captives in the book.