Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Review: The Drowning King by Emily Holleman

Egypt 51BC - the House of Ptolemy is about to take its final steps on the political stage. The power struggle that is about to unfold is centred around three siblings - sisters Cleopatra & Arsinoe, and their brother Ptolemy. Fueling the flames are a cast of political hangers-on, palace eunuchs, Egyptians and Romans.

We all know the story of Cleopatra - but it is not her narrative in that the story is not told from her perspective as in many other novels. Arsinsoe and Ptolemy are the ones to give voice to events as they are unfolding in Egypt from the time of the death of their father. Here, Cleopatra is seen from their point of view. And it is a very different Cleopatra - "traitor, whore, handmaiden of Rome". Is she a naive pawn of the Roman Empire, is it all posturing and sleight of hand, or is she truly, the sly and cunning minx.

This is an easy to follow narrative. Even though I had not read the first in this series "Cleopatra's Shadows", the story of what transpired before is easily picked up - Arsinoe is our faithful reporter. It probably also helped that I was already familiar with the "guts" of the story prior to picking this book up. 

I found the alternating narrative (between Arsinoe and Ptolemy) not confusing at all, but well structured. We are immediately drawn to both the characters of Arsinoe and Ptolemy, in particular, who you can't help but feel sympathetic towards - outwitted at every turn by his two cunning and politically adept sisters.

Not once did I consider putting the book aside - the storytelling itself constantly builds - think of a snowball hurtling downhill, all the while getting bigger as it builds momentum, barreling towards its inevitable conclusion - a cliff-hanger! Yes, we are left wondering ... what now??? 

Eagerly awaiting Book 3 in this series - then who knows, back to reading them all one after the other.

Review of the Drowning King here @ Goodreads

Cleopatra's ShadowsBefore Caesar and the carpet, before Antony and Actium, before Octavian and the asp, there was Arsinoe. 

Visit website of Emily Holleman

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