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Kleopatra (Kleopatra, #1)
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(Kleopatra #1)

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  1,240 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
High drama and ancient history combine in this novel of the early life of Egypt's infamous queen, at once a beautiful seductress, brilliant politician, and the most powerful ruler of her time.
Paperback, 367 pages
Published August 1st 2002 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2001)
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Jan 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Karen Essex's Kleopatra is definitely one of the best historical fiction novels I have ever read! The novel details Kleopatra's childhood and upbringing until she becomes queen at the age of 18, and continues on in a second novel titled Pharaoh, which I previously did not know existed until recently. Originally I had thought the novel was moving along too fast and was concerned that Essex would quickly detail Kleopatra's ruling and the marriage to her two husbands, so I was extremely pleased to ...more
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Interesants stāsts, kas sākas ar Kleopatras bērnību un ved cauri viņas dzīvei, kurā netrūkst ne vājprātīgu, varaskāru radinieku, kas gatavi viens otram ķerties pie rīkles, ne arī kaislību, kas padara valdnieces dzīvi interesantāku.

Pie grāmatas beigām domāju, ka nu ar kaut ko gan jau šis beigsies, tad varētu palasīt ko citu. Aha, pēdējā nodaļa beidzās tāpat kā visas iepriekšējās - tā arī īsti neko nebeidzot, un vēl pie tam tieši pirms ilgi gaidītās Kleopatras tikšanās ar Cēzaru (nelielais ieskats
Oh Karen Essex, how you confound me.

Reading this book I imagined myself on a pendulum being swung from end to end of a reader's opinion scale. In one chapter I am entranced, in another I am perplexed b/c of the authors choices in narration.

I never really felt the voice of Kleopatra come through. The story is richly researched and detailed with facts and dates all laid out like a well documeted history text but the lifestyles and surroundings are noticeably absent. I had trouble painting a pictur
Jan 15, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
If I didn't know anything about ancient Egypt before I read Kleopatra, I would take away the following: everyone has sex with everyone else regardless of ANYTHING. Age, gender, number of partners, lack of genitalia, ANYTHING. There was neat historical stuff, but it feel like the story alternated between that and weird sex stuff just to keep you interested in reading. I did move along pretty quickly while reading this book, but at the end I was just like 'eh.' This story didn't take place during ...more
Christy English
Sep 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
I have read both STEALING ATHENA and LEONARDO'S SWANS by Karen Essex and I am in the midst of her first novel, KLEOPATRA. I am loving it so far, even more than the other two. It may be the subject matter...there is just something about the way Karen has written about Egypt's last Pharoh that has made the dead come alive. I have finished the novel now, and I have not changed my mind. Soon I will dive into the sequel, PHAROH.
Jul 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
Shelves: alreadyread
Really, really well written historical fiction. She is incredibly well researched
Jul 29, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: any one who wants a smutty history book
It tries to be the red tent for Cleopatra.
Easy to read and good for escaping, but I wouldn't say my life is changed because of it.
A very approachable and readable novel about the early years of the life of Queen Kleopatra. Very well researched and full of historical details. I have just begun reading the second book, Pharaoh.
2.5 stars

What to say about this version of Kleopatra's tale? Overall I found that Essex failed to capture the essence of Kleopatra, including her maturity, dignity and intelligence. The book read more like a Hollywood version of Kleopatra's life (well the portion covered in this book, up to about the age of 21). The book did not bring the vibrancy of this time period to life. Overall, I found Essex included crude situations and even cursing for no reason I can think of as they certainly did not
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
It was good it gave me a completely different perspective of cleopatra's Life!
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cleopatra’s image in world history is very ambivalent. It embraces all the paradoxes of a female nature- alluring seductress, pharaoh( or just the single ruler) and just a person driven by thirst for knowledge in arts, mathematics, literature, warfare.

I am very delighted to confess in rereading these books over and over throughout years and always discovering new detail to it. Was real Cleopatra just as fascinating? I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Egyptian queen but particu
Alyssa Allen
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I thought it was fantastic! The author had a great grasp of the time period and the political and militaristic events that took place.

One of the the things I thought was executed beautifully was the sheer detail in each of the characters. I thought that for such a large cast, she did a great job reminding us who each was, to where I never had to say, "Who is that, again?", which can tend to happen in books where new characters are introduced every few pages.

I loved the story of Kleo, but I could
Jessica Thompson
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was at a gas station one day and was looking for a magazine to read when I found this book in a basket on the ground. I picked it up and figured why not. I loved this story and this is one of my favorite books. I loved how the story tied into history and painted a picture of a true time in history where knowledge was the center of the universe and people gathered for discovery. I love this story.
Jul 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
Tara Chevrestt
This got off to a rough start, with Kleopatra as petulant three year old that cannot speak and a few months later expressing herself in the most mature speach, and ending with her as a young woman about to meet Cesar. The book focuses a lot on Berenike, her Amazon like sister and I found myself more interested in her than the book's heroine. One thing that ruins the story in places is the constant unflattering descriptions of the king, Kleopatra's father. He is always described at fat or waddlin ...more
Dec 23, 2011 rated it it was ok
I like historical fiction and very much enjoyed the last book I read by Karen Essex, but this one I finally had to give up on, because it was too much -- too long and too many points of view to keep it interesting.

I really enjoyed the storytelling from the young Kleopatra's point of view - those parts were always lively, full of intriguing detail, and well-paced. The sections from other characters' pov's, however, were often boring and plodding, simply there to give the "real history" part of th
Jul 22, 2007 rated it liked it
I hope you like incest and pedophilia, if you're planning to read this book. Because there's a lot of both. Apparently Kleopatra's dad considered it normal to marry his sister and then his niece/step-daughter, as well as doing horrible things to young boys. Other than all that, the book is mostly well-written. None of the writing style made me cringe, though it didn't make me feel like telling everyone about the book, either. Kleopatra is an interesting character.

I sort of want to know how the C
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Much has been written about the mysterious queen who enthralled two powerful men. But Ms. Essex proposes there was more to her legend than legendary beauty. Intensive research and study as well as travels throughout Egypt, Rome, Greece and Turkey went into the writings of this fascinating character (actually the 7th to bear this name). She was more than the femme fatale of Shakespeare or sex kitten of George Bernard Shaw. Kleopatra VII (Philopater) was a master of several languages, a diplomat a ...more
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
Going into this book, I expected a great story. I love Cleopatra, I love ancient Egypt. 20% in the book, I realised that the narration of this book makes it really hard for me to read it. Essex portrayed Cleopatra exactly like how Hollywood would portray her; there are so many Hollywood ways here, such as everyone like to have sex with everyone else, disregarding the age, gender, lack of genitalia, position. Cleopatra seems to be very shallow, no dignity, unintelligence.

Overall, I just cannot se
Oct 31, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclubbooks
I appreciate this book, more because it got me back into Egyptian history. I had completely forgotten that Kleopatra's family came from Alexander the Great, the Greeks, and not the Egyptians themselves. Having said that, I can't say I was super thrilled with this novel. Not knowing there was another volume to the story of the last Pharaoh, I kept thinking it was slow going, since there was so much devoted to her young life. I don't know. I liked reading about her upbringing, don't get me wrong, ...more
Loraine Despres
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I just finished Kleopatra by Karen Essex. I was swept up and taken to first century BC Egypt and Rome. Beautifully researched, this book gives you the feel of what it was like to be a young woman living in a glittering palace watching your mother die as your sister seduces your father so she can become queen. You live through Kleopatra's fight to keep her crown and her exile in the desert as her brother and sister take over the kingdom. The book ends as she prepares to meet Caesar.
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: imposing-women
This book took me a REALLY long time to start to get into. I'd say, around a little more then half way through the book was when I finally felt some interst in actually finishing the book. It ended pretty abrubtly, but i guess thats why theres a second book called "pharoah". I'm more excited to start the second book! this was just kinda a slow starting story to kleopatras rule which is more in the second book.
Mar 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Entertaining and interesting historical novel about the legendary queen of Egypt. The story opens with Kleopatra as a 3 year old, and I liked this approach at character development as the descriptions of her childhood show how she was raised to be a great intellect and ruler. Descriptive details about the ancient world made me want to learn more. I look forward to the next book, and more from Karen Essex.
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
An interesting hybrid of historical research and literary fiction that takes you on a journey with Kleopatra child prodigy to her trials and tribulations of being a adolescent female in old world Egypt. Essentially these early years provide her with the tools and wisdom to become the formidable and illustrious women we know today - seductress, master of languages, adventurer, diplomat, and military strategist.

4 1/2 Stars
Alisa Kester
Jun 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Not a fan of the universal viewpoint style of writing, and the story also lacked the historical details that I find riveting in a historical novel, but it was just interesting enough to keep me reading. And, of course, it ends *right* when Cleo is about to meet Caesar (my favorite part of her whole life story) so of course now I'm going to have to pick up the sequel. I probably would not have done that, if she'd ended just a *little* further on in the story!
Feb 27, 2008 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book which is truly a work of fiction since we know so little about Cleopatra before she hooked up with Julius Caesar. Things I learned: Ancient Egypt was both yucky and incestuous. There was a lot of sodomizing of young boys going on. I did not realize that Cleopatra's parents were half siblings, and I didn't know that she was Greek, not Egyptian. She may have been a descendant of Alexander the Great. I have heard that the next book, Pharoah is better than this book.
Sep 19, 2011 rated it liked it
I've never been all that Cleopatra crazy, but I like Karen Essex's writing. This book takes you through her girlhood, and her relationship with her fat foofy father....her siblings who were from hell...and on to her getting it on with Ceasar, at which point it leaves off for volume two, or the continuation of her life I presume. She was a smart cookie, good at languages, and strategizing for someone so young. I enjoyed it.
Josiane Claremont
Most awesome book I've read in a long time. (write review at a later time)

Assumed that it would be like Nobody's Princess, but is actually different! Defied expectation.
Vicki Cline
Jul 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: roman-fiction
This was an interesting look at the childhood (through about 19 years old) of Kleopatra and at court life in Alexandria. I was disappointed that the book ended before she meets Caesar. That part of her life is covered in the sequel Pharaoh, which I starting today.
Kelly Perry
Sep 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Beware this is only the 1st book of 2. It is over 300 pages and takes you through 15 years of Kleopatra's life, from age 3 (when her mother dies) to age 18 (when her father dies). It can get a bit dry at times, however, seeing the political/power struggles with Rome and Egypt are very intriguing.
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I'm the author of KLEOPATRA, PHARAOH, LEONARDO'S SWANS, STEALING ATHENA, DRACULA IN LOVE, AND BETTIE PAGE: LIFE OF A PINUP LEGEND--All featuring iconic women. I am also an active screenwriter and an award-winning journalist. I divide my time between Los Angeles and Europe, where I soak in the atmosphere while writing historical fiction.

Please see my blog, "Women, History, Sex, & Power" at htt

Other books in the series

Kleopatra (2 books)
  • Pharaoh (Kleopatra, #2)