Holleman’s gift of characterization will have readers rooting for all three Egyptian royals, hoping against historical fact that this sibling rivalry has no losers—at least not until the next installment.
Egypt, 51 B.C. Sisters Arsinoe and Cleopatra face a devastating choice: to allow Rome's army to siphon power from their ailing father, or to take matters-and the dynasty-into their own hands.
It's the dawn of a new era for Alexandria: four years have passed since Berenice's gruesome execution, the Piper is dead, and Cleopatra and her brother, Ptolemy, are poised to inherit the throne together. Long overlooked by his father in favor of the beguiling Cleopatra, ten-year-old Ptolemy is eager to assert himself as a man and as a king. But he and his advisors are no match for Queen Cleopatra, who swiftly establishes her primacy throughout the land-from Alexandria to Upper Egypt. When she alienates Rome's remaining legions, Ptolemy finally gets his first taste of power, though not without its complications. Intent on retaking the crown, Arsinoe and Cleopatra have joined forces in Egypt, and Ptolemy must prepare to meet their army head-on.
Meanwhile, Rome's civil war collides with Egypt's, forcing Ptolemy to either shelter his father's dispossessed benefactor or kill him to appease a new luminary in Rome. Despite mounting doubts about where her Cleopatra's loyalties lie, Arsinoe has remained faithful to her. But when news comes that Cleopatra has allied herself with Julius Caesar and the deeply patriarchal society he represents, Arsinoe grapples with the unsettling realization that the Piper and his knavish ways live on in her sister.
Torn between her warring siblings and sensing her own nascent hunger to lead rising within, Arsinoe must decide whether it will be her dear sister or brother she betrays and which side to take, a decision that will determine the fate of a kingdom-and the entire course of history.