Kay's Reviews > Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile, Egypt, 57 B.C.

Cleopatra VII by Kristiana Gregory
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bookshelves: ancient-egypt, kiddy-lit, kings-queens-n-fools, blast-from-the-past

Disclaimer: The last time I read this book was in middle school, so my review will be spotty and more nostalgic than any review should be. Oh well.

I avidly read the Royal Diaries series during my middle school years. Like most young girls, I was fascinated with princesses and--maybe not so much like most young girls--deeply interested in the power politics of royalty. Princesses, more often than not, tend to be the pawns of such political games, so it was always very thrilling to read a story in which the princess overcomes her opponents!

While Cleopatra was not always my favorite female monarch, I love this book not only because it satiated my taste for court intrigue, but also because it allowed me a glimpse of the wealth and decay of Egypt.

Here are scenes that still stand out in my mind today:

(1) Cleopatra's older sister, next in line to lead the realm, is luxuriating in a steaming tub of water that is heated by slaves working in an underground furnace. Amid the perfumed haze of oils and other bath luxuries, she orders Cleopatra to drink a goblet of may-or-may-not-be poisoned wine.

(2) Cleopatra and her sisters get first dibs at a caravan full of trade items arriving from all over the world. These include jars of scented oils, shimmering scarves that float when you toss them into the air, and ropes of pearls. Cleopatra takes a hold of something--I think it was a necklace--and the vindictive older sister snatches it away and presses a knife to Cleopatra's throat.

(3) Away somewhere in Roman-occupied territory, the Romans viciously taunt Cleopatra's father in their own language, and he--dependent on Roman aid yet unable to speak their language--nods and smiles nervously. Cleopatra, who happens to speak a bazillion languages, shows them up. Yeah, bitches.

As I've said before, I haven't read the book in ages, so my memory could be making up a few details. If those three scenes are completely accurate, I would be very surprised.

And yes, I know the book is not historically accurate, and yes, Cleopatra may or may not have been as likable in real life versus in this book. I am also aware that court politics is incredibly complex and blah blah blah, tyvm. But as a kid, I didn't care (and I still kind of don't): I picked up this book to read a good story, not to write a report on Ancient Egypt. Besides, the world the author portrayed was gorgeous, and most importantly it left a lingering sweetness in my mind for anything Ancient Egypt.

This was one of the most enjoyable books I've read as a kid. Highly recommended for the younger audience.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
September 28, 2011 – Shelved
September 28, 2011 – Shelved as: ancient-egypt
September 28, 2011 – Shelved as: kiddy-lit
September 28, 2011 – Shelved as: kings-queens-n-fools
December 22, 2011 – Shelved as: blast-from-the-past

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Diane Harris If you like this one try Nzingha and Isabel

message 2: by Patricia (new) - added it

Patricia Trotchie-ure Thanks for your review. Although I’m listening to the audiobook, your pretty much spot on. I was looking for an interesting historical fiction on ancient Egypt for a pre-teen girl. I want to inspire her to continue to learn about a topic she enjoyed at her former school. So far the only concern I have is the description of the thousands of slaves led by Spartacus who were crucified and left to rot lining the road as a warning to others who dare to defy the authority of Rome. I suppose at some point in life we need to know the sometimes horrible truth of history.

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