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Hand of Isis Mass Market Paperback – Bargain Price, January 1, 2010

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; 1 Reprint edition (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316068012
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.5 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,551,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Historical fantasist Graham (Black Ships) heads to Egypt with this elegant, engaging memoir of Charmian, half-sister and handmaiden to Cleopatra. The two young women and their other sister, Iras, are inseparable from childhood, getting one another into and out of numerous mishaps. As teenagers, they vow to Isis that they will protect Egypt from the covetous Romans, and in return for their devotion, the goddess rewards Cleopatra with the throne. Graham never resorts to melodrama even at the murder of Julius Caesar or to cliché when Charmian recalls her past lives, and she supplies plenty of superb historical detail, but doesn't let it overwhelm the narrative. Charmian's shy hopes, failures and devotion to Cleopatra and Isis make her one of the most memorable witnesses to history to emerge from fantasy in quite some time. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jo Graham lives in Maryland with her family, and has worked in politics for many years. Black Ships is her debut novel. Find out more about the author at http://jo-graham.livejournal.com/

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Customer Reviews

The explicit sexual nature of this book was just too much for me.
Abby Anderson
I know I'm reading a good book when I know the story ends tragically but still can't tear my eyes away.
Kelly (Fantasy Literature)
I fell in love with the characters to the point where their plights effected me rather emotionally.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) VINE VOICE on March 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
I loved Black Ships, and I didn't know if Jo Graham could top it. The answer, I am happy to report, is a great big YES!

_Hand of Isis_ is set within the same continuity as _Black Ships_ and continues the story of some of the characters from that novel, who have now been reincarnated as players in the Egyptian-Roman power struggle. You don't need to have read _Black Ships_ first, but you'll probably get more out of _Hand of Isis_ if you have. The story is told from the point of view of Cleopatra's "personal assistant," Charmian, who is Gull reincarnated. As the novel opens, she stands before the Egyptian deities in the afterlife and tells her tale.
The story begins with three little girls, half-sisters (in this novel Cleopatra's handmaidens Charmian and Iras are illegitimate daughters of Pharaoh), who become inseparable friends. As teenagers, they make a pact with the goddess Isis, vowing that if she will place Cleopatra on the throne, the three women will act as her hands in the world and do their best to make Egypt a better place. Later, when Cleopatra does become queen, Iras and Charmian are her closest confidantes and most valued advisors. We then follow Charmian as she helps facilitate her sister's legendary reign and has some adventures and loves of her own along the way.

The city of Alexandria is almost another character in its own right. Graham does a great job of painting a vivid picture of Alexandria, from its brilliant scholars to its take-out food. It's a cosmopolitan melting pot where people have more freedom than they do in many other places in the ancient world. We can see exactly why it's worth fighting for.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Marianne Frye on April 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
I got this book through the Librarything Early Review program. I already had the first book Black Ships but have not read it yet. It is a choice for a RL book group of mine for May.

Luckily the books stand alone in the sense that the stories are different. I think some of the previous characters come back via reincarnation, but as different people in this book. I was in no way lost in this book or the overall story arc by not reading book 1 (yet).

At the start I found the writing to be OK, but rather pedestrian. It wasn't choppy, but it didn't flow. It just seemed to lie there on the page. It was easy to put the book down. Reading the story in small chunks just didn't make it compelling or make the story come off the page and live.

I was also daunted by the size of the book. Its hard to enjoy a huge tome if you think it might not be worth your time. The print is rather large so it really isn't as much as it seems. Once I was able to invest some uninterrupted hours, it became very worthwhile.

The story is set in ancient Egypt. though it is Egypt in the age of Hellenism. The story starts during the end of the reign of Ptolemy Auletes the father of Cleopatra, who was the last Egyptian Pharaoh. The narrator is Charmian who is a slave/handmaiden of Cleopatra and also her half sister. She and another half sister, Iras, also a slave/handmaiden are with Cleo from the age of 6 until the end. The story covers Cleo's early years and her interaction with Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, and the end in Alexandria.

Of course we all know the story and how it ends. In fact at times I felt I was reading scenes from the movie Cleopatra. Perhaps the author could have been more inventive, but she chose to follow the traditional story line.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Houser VINE VOICE on October 24, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Synopsis: Set in the desert plains of Egypt, Charmian, the half-sister of the infamous Queen Cleopatra, recounts her life's tale in this epic historical fantasy by Jo Graham. Charmian tells of a sparse childhood being raise by just her mother, who was a servant to the pharaoh. Not knowing that her father was the pharaoh, Charmian is startled when she learns that the Princess Cleopatra is her half-sister. She's even more stunned to learn that she has another half-sister, Iras, and that Iras and Charmian are to be live-in playmates to the Princess.

As the three girls grow up, they become closer than playmates. The grow into the sisters they actually are. While Charmian recounts a seemingly normal childhood for the girls, she details Cleopatra's tumultuous and dangerous rise to the thrown and her struggle to keep it. She lends her voice to the details of Cleopatra's romances, first with Julius Caesar and then with Mark Antony. But Charmian has her own tale to tell and she tells of her own passions, of becoming a mother, and of being in the most impossible of love relationships.

When the end finally comes for the great Cleopatra and her sisters, it is Charmian who carries the reader into the afterlife and on the next part of her journey.

Review: I have read nothing else by Jo Graham, but after reading The Hand of Isis, I most definitely will. Graham is an extraordinary writer and the author's talent lies within the details of the novel. Almost everyone is familiar with the story of Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, and Mark Antony. Told from Charmian's point of view and with the most dazzling attention to detail, Graham breathes new life into this familiar tale.
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