Britain’s Lancashire Evening Post Cleopatra’s Daughter review

Lancashire Evening Post

Published Date: 12 October 2009
By Pam Norfolk

No sooner has Cleopatra’s heartbroken daughter witnessed the tragic queen’s death from an asp bite than she is thrown into another nest of vipers…

And the ‘snakes’ which the beautiful Selene encounters in Rome are just as cold-blooded and deadly as the one that killed her mother in Egypt.

Moran’s third novel in her scorching series about the heroes and villains of the ancient world proves she is fast becoming one of the best historical novelists around.

Brimming with authentic period detail and steeped in Roman history which has captured imaginations for centuries, this is the brilliantly woven story of the orphaned children of Cleopatra and Mark Antony.

And Moran really knows her stuff … she sticks meticulously to the facts and in between creates a compelling and intelligent tale of romance, passion, betrayal and intrigue.

Cleopatra’s captive ten-year-old twins Alexander and Selene survive the sea crossing from Alexandria to Rome where they are paraded in public to mark the return of the conqueror Octavian.

Homesick and still reeling from the death of their parents, they are lodged with the emperor’s sister Octavia and educated Roman style with her own children.

Alexander, practical and pliant, knows he must at least give the appearance of co-operation but Selene, defiant and suspicious, is wary of everything in this alien world.

She fears both the citizens and their crowded and disorganised city – a seething mass of kilns, markets, temples and stinking laundries.

There are distractions of course … her artistic gifts, her training as an architect and a growing friendship with the handsome young man tipped to be Octavian’s heir.

But loves and rivalries on glittering Palatine hill are overshadowed by the elusive Red Eagle, a mysterious revolutionary who is causing mayhem and murder in Rome.

In a city where a third of the population are slaves, the Red Eagle wants the powerful Senate to rise up and bring an end to servitude… but the desperate hunt for him puts the twins’ lives in mortal danger.

Moran peoples her novels with all those famous names we have met on the pages of books from Plutarch to Shakespeare and puts flesh on their dry old bones.

And with the help of a time line, glossary, maps of Rome and the empire and even an historical note on the fate of her characters, Cleopatra’s Daughter is probably the most entertaining history book you are likely to find.