I find that as I have gotten older and learned to read more critically, books I once loved just don’t impress me as much. Sadly, that is true for Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran. Moran is a historical fiction author and I have really enjoyed most of her books. I’ve reviewed one of her other books, The Second Empress, but until now, hadn’t reviewed any others. I’ll get into my thoughts after the synopsis. This review will have spoilers.
At the dawn of the Roman Empire, when tyranny ruled, a daughter of Egypt and a son of Rome found each other…
Selene’s legendary parents are gone. Her country taken, she has been brought to the city of Rome in chains, with only her twin brother, Alexander, to remind her of home and all she once had.
Living under the watchful eyes of the ruling family, Selene and her brother must quickly learn how to be Roman – and how to be useful to Caesar. She puts her artistry to work, in the hope of staying alive and being allowed to return to Egypt. Before long, however, she is distracted by the young and handsome heir to the empire…
When the elusive ‘Red Eagle’ starts calling for the end of slavery, Selene and Alexander are in grave danger. Will this mysterious figure bring their liberation, or their demise?
This book is obviously about the daughter of Cleopatra and Marc Antony, Kleopatra Selene. Overall, I do like this book. Moran does an excellent job at sticking to the actual historical facts and then filling in the gaps with mostly believable details. At the end of the book she even has a section where she talks about what happened to the real people that the book is based on. As a history junkie, I appreciate those kind of details and it adds to the story for me. She also writes in a fast paced way so the story never seems to drag. It’s an entertaining read if you’re a fan of historical fiction.
My only true complaints with the story are some of the characters really aren’t fully developed and the characters react to events in strange ways that don’t feel believable. The main characters that weren’t developed well, in my opinion, were Octavian (Caesar) and Livia (Octavian’s wife). Both were made out to be pretty stereotypical villains with Octavian being the mastermind and Livia just being cruel for the sake of being cruel. We’re never given any insight into why they are the way that they are. Most of the other adult characters weren’t really fleshed out either but I can only assume that is because we’re being told the story from 12-15 year old Selene’s point of view.
Selene and Alexander are the main characters that don’t react to events how you would expect them to. They lose EVERYTHING because of Octavian but yet, they adjust to living in his home extremely fast, make friends with the entire family and never seem to hold any true resentment. Selene even saves Octavian’s life from an assassin and later after Octavian orders the MURDER of her brother, she’s still courteous toward him. I just didn’t feel that was realistic at all.
If you’re wanting a historical fiction story that is fast paced and entertaining, I recommend this book. I do not recommend it, however, if you’re wanting a story with a lot of depth. When I first read this book a few years ago I thought it was perfect but now I see that it has some issues, however, it’s still a good read. Does this book sound like something you’d be interested in? Let me know! Thanks for reading and have a great day!