Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

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*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
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*****Cleopatra's Heir

by Gillian Bradshaw

Reviewed July 18, 2002.
A Sonderbooks' Best Book of 2002 (#1, Fiction)
Tom Doherty Associates Books, 2002.  447 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (F BRA)

Wow.  With every book I read by Gillian Bradshaw, I get more impressed.  She is the queen of historical fiction.

I’m afraid that this book didn’t show up on our book rental lists at the library, so we don’t have it at the library.  I ordered this copy for myself via  (I’m going to have to see if I can get the library a copy anyway.)

Like most people, I didn’t know that Cleopatra was a single mom.  She claimed that her first son was the child of Julius Caesar, and the next three were the children of Mark Antony.  Caesarion, this firstborn son, would have certainly been put to death when Octavion conquered Egypt.  This book begins with the premise:  What if Caesarion escaped?

Gillian Bradshaw also gives Caesarion epilepsy, his father’s illness.  The book begins with this would-be king waking up from a seizure, left for dead.  What’s a king to do when his country has been conquered and he mustn’t let anyone know who he is?  Caesarion is lucky enough to meet some compassionate common folk, and he learns some lessons about kindness that his mother never taught him.  Now how can he contact any remaining loyal followers and still protect his new friends?

Gillian Bradshaw never ceases to amaze me with her knowledge of ancient cultures.  Every book is set in ancient times, but each one has a completely different setting.  Her books usually have a touch of romance, but that’s not the main focus.  Read a book by Gillian Bradshaw if you want to be completely immersed in a bygone world, to understand what it was like to be alive in a very different time.  I can’t help wondering if she has a time machine--She so easily convinces me that these worlds are real, I almost think she’s been there.

I’m guessing that her books aren’t widely known because they don’t fit a particular niche.  They’re not really historical romances, since the romance isn’t the main point.  Most other historical novels don’t usually go so far back in time.  Again, I owe my sister Becky a huge debt for introducing me to Gillian Bradshaw’s books.  This one is an outstanding trip back through time.

Reviews of other books by Gillian Bradshaw:
Imperial Purple
The Sand-Reckoner
The Wolf Hunt
Render Unto Caesar
Dangerous Notes
The Wrong Reflection

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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