- Series: A Fall of Egypt Novel
- Hardcover: 432 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (April 4, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780316383035
- ISBN-13: 978-0316383035
- ASIN: 0316383031
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,486,021 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Drowning King (A Fall of Egypt Novel) Hardcover – April 4, 2017
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"The Drowning King contains everything that a real-life "Game of Thrones" would: sibling incest, backstabbing court politics, invasions and treachery at every turn. Don't miss this enthralling installment in the Fall of Egypt saga, and be sure to pick up the remaining two volumes when they hit shelves."―Book Reporter
"Readers fascinated by political intrigue and dynasty building of the ancient world will enjoy this, especially if they have read the first volume."―Library Journal
"A fast-moving, heart-poundingly good follow-up"―Marie Claire
"Holleman's poetic language contributes to the atmosphere of intrigue and menace, expertly capturing the roiling anxieties of the principals as they battle for Rome's scraps. Holleman's gift of characterization will have readers rooting for all three Egyptian royals, hoping against historical fact that this sibling rivalry has no losers-at least not until the next installment. "―Kirkus Review
About the Author
Emily Holleman, a graduate of Yale University, spent several years as an editor for Salon-a job she left to follow Arsinoe and her quest for the throne of Egypt. Currently based in Brooklyn, she has devoted the past three years to reading and writing about the Ptolemies and is, like Arsinoe, a younger sister. She is the author of Cleopatra's Shadows: A Fall of Egypt Novel.
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The Drowning King begins about four years after the end of the first novel which culminated in the beheading of Cleopatra’s older sister (and King Ptolemy’s eldest daughter) Berenice Now it is Ptolemy himself who lays dying, and so this portion of the saga begins with an Egypt that is on the brink of a new era and a new reign: That of Cleopatra and her brother (also named) Ptolemy. Because this is ancient Egypt, Cleopatra and her brother are supposed to marry and rule together….and are thus immediately at odds.
In the middle of the familial drama is Arsinoe: She is the voice that unites the novels, both of which are told from alternating points of view. No longer a girl of 11, Arsinoe is now older, wiser and more in control of her emotions and her actions than she was when we last read of her woes. While she still adores her older sister (as younger sisters tend to do, even in 51 B.C.), she is less in awe, less sure of Cleopatra’s motives.
Ptolemy (the other voice in this novel) starts off at about the age Arsinoe was at the end of the last book. Unlike Arsinoe, he has been pampered, coddled and is the favorite of mother. But like his sister before him, Ptolemy grapples with adulthood (which comes early in ancient Egypt), how to exert his power and what it means to be a Ptolemy. He has not yet learned to manipulate and control his masses (or, at times, his reactions), but he is determined to make his mark on history.
As someone who knows about as much as the average person about this period of history, what struck me about the novel - particularly once Julius Caesar enters the picture - is that while I knew the ultimate outcome of Cleopatra and her reign, I could not predict what would happen from chapter to chapter. Holleman does a fantastic job of bringing her readers into the world of ancient Egypt, with its unexpectedly powerful eunuchs, rhetoricians, and generally conniving and untrustworthy staffs (think: a pre-historic Downton Abbey). This is as much a tale of family and betrayal as it is a piece of historical fiction.
I highly recommend this novel. It can stand alone as a story about Egypt’s most famous (or infamous) ruler or, of course, come as the follow-up to its wonderful predecessor.
The precision and detail of Holleman's writing took me to another world, and I devoured the novel over the course of three days, eager to sink back into Egypt and the vivid visually immersive scenes she paints page after page.
In Arsinoe and Ptolemy, Holleman has done something really commendable, bringing two ill-known characters, who are and always have been footnotes of history, to life in a way that gave me a real sense of the rhythms and stakes of the power struggles and family turmoil that rocked this dynasty. Clinging to scraps of power, wrestling with familial resentments and desperate desires to build a new future, these siblings strike the death nell of their dynasty, and their blind hope for the future contrasted with Cleopatra's cold practicality scores the book with tension and vigor.
There are stories about the central players of history, and stories about the rest of the world, and this manages to be both, in a way that comments simultaneously on the figures we know, and the ones we've never heard of.