A sweeping epic of ancient Rome from the #1 bestselling author of The Thorn Birds
In this breathtaking follow-up to The October Horse, Colleen McCullough turns her attention to the legendary romance of Antony and Cleopatra, and in this timeless tale of love, politics, and power, proves once again that she is the best historical novelist of our time.
Caesar is dead, and Rome is, again, divided. Lepidus has retreated to Africa, while Antony rules the opulent East, and Octavian claims the West, the heart of Rome, as his domain. Though this tense truce holds civil war at bay, Rome seems ripe for an emperor -- a true Julian heir to lay claim to Caesar's legacy. With the bearing of a hero, and the riches of the East at his disposal, Antony seems poised to take the prize. Like a true warrior-king, he is a seasoned general whose lust for power burns alongside a passion for women, feasts, and Chian wine. His rival, Octavian, seems a less convincing candidate: the slight, golden-haired boy is as controlled as Antony is indulgent and as cool-headed and clear-eyed as Antony is impulsive. Indeed, the two are well matched only in ambition.
And though politics and war are decidedly the provinces of men in ancient Rome, women are adept at using their wits and charms to gain influence outside their traditional sphere. Cleopatra, the ruthless, golden-eyed queen, welcomes Antony to her court and her bed but keeps her heart well guarded. A ruler first and a woman second, Cleopatra has but one desire: to place her child on his father, Julius Caesar's, vacant throne. Octavian, too, has a strong woman by his side: his exquisite wife, raven-haired Livia Drusilla, who learns to wield quiet power to help her husband in his quest for ascendancy. As the plot races toward its inevitable conclusion -- with battles on land and sea -- conspiracy and murder, love and politics become irrevocably entwined.
McCullough's knowledge of Roman history is detailed and extensive. Her masterful and meticulously researched narrative is filled with a cast of historical characters whose motives, passions, flaws, and insecurities are vividly imagined and expertly drawn. The grandeur of ancient Rome comes to life as a timeless human drama plays out against the dramatic backdrop of the Republic's final days.
McCullough (The Thorn Birds; The October Horse) continues her Masters of Rome series with a chronicle of one of history's most infamous love affairs. After the death of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Caesar's ambitious and brash cousin, and Octavian, Caesar's adopted son and designated heir, agree to jointly administer the far-flung empire: Antony in the East and Octavian in the West. It's not a happy arrangement, though, and their rivalry to rule Rome is the overarching theme of this sprawling, captivating saga. After a disastrous campaign to subdue the Parthians, Antony turns to Cleopatra, the enigmatic and fabulously wealthy queen of Egypt, to replenish his war chest. Determined to make Caesarion, her son by Julius Caesar, ruler of Rome, Cleopatra seduces Antony and soon has him "as soft as a mushy pudding." Meanwhile, with the aid of his wife and Marcus Agrippa, Octavian secures his position in Rome and Italia. Prodded by Cleopatra, Antony gathers his forces in Greece for an invasion of Italia. The tragic denouement is, in McCullough's capable hands, no less compelling for being so well known. As with the previous volumes in this series, the author's scholarship and larger-than-life characters bring a tempestuous Rome to life.
So wonderfully written, an absolute page turner. Thank you!!!
I wish the book had 500 more pages!
I just love this whole series of books, and hope to see them all available soon.