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Cleopatra's Heir Hardcover – June 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books; 1st edition (June 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765302284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765302281
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,253 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fascinating historical figures Julius Caesar, Marcus Antonius and Cleopatra roam the ancient Egyptian desert and the glittering city of Alexandria in this latest from classics scholar Bradshaw (The Sand-Reckoner). The hero is Cleopatra's son Caesarion, whom she has declared to be Caesar's offspring. Her ploy fails when Caesar's adopted Roman son and successor, Octavian (later Augustus), conquers Egypt and sends soldiers to attack troops fleeing with the 18-year-old Caesarion. The young man, after suffering an epileptic fit, is left for dead, but has only been wounded. Waking, he escapes, but another fit leaves him unconscious on a desert roadway, where Ani, an Egyptian merchant with a small caravan of merchandise, finds and saves him. Caesarion, who is Greek (like all royalty in Egypt at this time), is intelligent enough to conceal his background, calling himself Arion, but he cannot hide his aristocratic ways or his disdain for a mere Egyptian who treats a king as a commoner. He resents the merchant, but agrees at last to write his letters for him. Slowly, the patient and generous Ani wins Arion's respect; his beautiful daughter Melanthe falls in love with Arion, who is interested, but cannot acknowledge loving a commoner. While the story is light on action, Bradshaw's attention to Arion's growth into a caring person and the convincing historical detail she musters give the novel substance, but it is the final (and thoroughly fictional) confrontation between Octavian and Caesarion that will truly make it attractive to history buffs.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

What if the son of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar had lived past his 18th year? This is the question British author Bradshaw (The Wolf Hunt) poses in her latest historical novel. History says that Caesarion, who was perceived as a threat to Octavius's throne, was killed soon after his mother's suicide in 30 B.C.E. A more gripping story, perhaps, is Bradshaw's version, in which Caesarion, suffering from the sacred illness (epilepsy), is attacked by Roman forces and left for dead. Wounded, he flees the battle scene and is rescued by a kindhearted caravan master. His life forfeited, his mother's cause lost, Caesarion must decide what to do. Should he give up and surrender to his enemies, or can he create a new life for himself from the ashes of the old? Mixing truth and fiction, Bradshaw creates a compelling and imaginative story. She draws the reader in through deft characterization; we feel Caesarion's pain as he struggles with his destiny. Highly recommended for all public libraries and large academic institutions. Laurel Bliss, Yale Univ. Lib.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Honesty in a historian is a great thing!)
Charlotte Lucas:
In an historical novel, it is even rarer, nevertheless Gillian Bradshaw has achieved this in a remarkable fashion.
ilmk
Bradshaw made the characters seem like real people.
X. Wang

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Karin W. on May 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gillian Bradshaw is one of the few authors whose works I'll purchase, sight unseen, in hardcover. This book does not disappoint-- returning to the world of Classical Antiquity after last year's detour to 11th-century Brittany (The Wolf Hunt), Bradshaw delivers another compelling novel filled with vivid historical detail, beautiful writing, and sympathetic characters.
The "editorial reviews" on this site give a neat encapsulation of this book's premise: what if Caesarion, son of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, had managed to escape the Roman assassination attempt that apparently claimed the life of the historical Caesarion?
The book opens with a wounded Caesarion waking from a coma after his camp is attacked by a Roman century. He's on a funeral pyre, surrounded by his dead bodyguards... and I was hooked.
What followed was a wonderful adventure of how a spoiled but unloved youth, despised his entire life for his epilepsy, loses everything-- but finds love, respect, and purpose among the lower-class Egyptians who rescue him and offer him a new life. Of course, his past is bound to catch up with him, sooner or later...
Loved the characters-- Ani, the linen producer determined to make it as a merchant; his daughter Melanthe; and, of course, Caesarion. And I aalso enjoyed the depiction of late-Hellenistic Egyptian society, where the conquering Greeks have long formed the elite classes, and where the native Egyptians are discriminated against on almost every level.
If you're looking for a great read set in an interesting historical period, check out Cleopatra's Heir.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By ilmk on February 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It is a rare novel that by midpoint you can pause and realise not much has actually happened but you've been thoroughly entertained. A case of exploration of the human condition taking precedence over plot. In an historical novel, it is even rarer, nevertheless Gillian Bradshaw has achieved this in a remarkable fashion. Admittedly it is the first of her novels I have read, but it will be by no means the last.
Cleopatra's Heir provides an alternative history to the fate of Julius Caesar's and Cleopatra' son, Caesarion, of whom historical scholars confidently have us know that he was executed c.30B.C after the fall of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra. In this version, we find the epileptic eighteen year old waking up on top of his own funeral pyre, rolling off with a stab wound to his side and lurching off into the distance whilst Rome celebrated his demise.
What follows is the gradual transition of a boy raised, as Bradshaw so eloquently puts it, to be a King of all, yet totally obedient to a man in control of what little destiny he retains. His emotional strength in the face of such social suffering means we have a story where one class of man is forced to experience another and, in doing so, becomes a rather better person for it. The story itself is simply told: found by an Egyptian trader named Ani, the newly named Arion is forced to accept the merchant's kindness as he is nursed back to health on Ani's journey to Berenike. Whilst there an attempt to depart to locate his ship leads to another of the frequent seizures and the forming of his identity to all as Arion, ex-Friend of Caesarion, gentleman and secretary to Ani.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
A very basic coming-of-age novel that takes no risks but also makes no big mistakes, Cleopatra's Heir tells the story of how Cleopatra's son Caesarion must reinvent his life once he is no longer heir.
Sentence-level writing here seemed simplistic, and the author used an annoying device of having characters tell stories familiar to the reader over and over -- we already know what happened to the party on their way down the river, so why repeat the whole thing in dialogue?
The characters work well overall, and the portrayal of Caesarion's epilepsy is perhaps the best point of the book, though I wanted a bit more resolution with the theme of his mother as a dark, even tyrannical figure.
The early-Roman Empire historical setting, like most of Bradshaw's settings, seems believable (at least to a non-specialist) but doesn't have the depth of really top-class historical fiction.
Overall, an enjoyable book, but I'm tempted to call it an enjoyable "little" book. It might be well suited to a young adult audience because of the theme, the straightforward plot and the uncomplicated language.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. K. Shirley on July 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So much, yet so little, is known of Cleopatra's reign and what is documented could very well be mostly propaganda from the Roman point of view. Even less is known about the son she and Julius Caesar brought into the world. This book, although a work of historical fiction, explores the possibility that their son escaped execution and the life and choices he made or might have made as the result of his new found freedom, the education and values instilled in him from birth, his need to return to his home and the possible ramifications and repercussions of that need. This is a page turner for anyone who loves being transported to a time and place that only lives in our imaginations. It has a wonderful sort of "What If" feel about it. I loved it and highly recommend it.
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