Review: Queen of Kings

Reviewed by Jen

We’ve all heard the stories about the great love of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. Well, that story is getting a whole new twist here. Queen of Kings opens with the Egyptian queen and her husband on the cusp of war with the Roman emperor Octavian and his legion. They are outnumbered. But Cleopatra has one last idea on how they can defeat Rome. She summons an ancient Goddess to suffuse her with power. But things go terribly wrong.

Octavian finds a way to trick Mark Antony into suicide, which sets off a rage in Cleopatra that is unequaled. Her summoning spell has left her bound to the blood-thirsty goddess Sekhmet. She is now immortal; more beast than woman; and without her great love. Now, Cleopatra is hellbent on destroying Octavian, rescuing her children he has taken, and finding a way to reunite with Mark Antony in the afterlife.

It took me awhile to get into this book. Things were very slow-moving in the first hundred or so pages. I didn’t feel like much was happening beyond Cleopatra and Mark Antony’s deaths and honestly, I had no idea where the story was going. The book was set up in a prologue that indicates 50 years later, Cleopatra lives on; the monster lives on. The narrator is warning the future. So I kept thinking maybe we’d see Cleopatra live on beyond ancient times or that the storyline would progress beyond the scope of her lost love. But that was a misconception on my part. Everything Cleopatra does, everything she is, centers on Mark Antony.

Things do pick up maybe about 175 pages-in. I finally saw a chance for things to move in a direction I could root for. (Up until that point, I feared we were destined for an entire book about how miserable Cleopatra’s eternity would be without her soul-mate. ) And the story moves to encompass pivotal new characters that will help shape the battles between the Cleopatra and Octavian, as well as Cleopatra and the goddess who holds her soul.

This book is chock-full of Roman and Egyptian mythology. And it doesn’t scrimp on paranormal elements. But we’re not talking typical sexy-vampire stuff. Everything paranormal here is very dark. Cleopatra is barely a woman anymore after her transformation. She is a beast, save for the shreds of her being that hold on to the love she has for her husband and children. This is a rich and complicated story, especially once you get into the meat of it.
Personally, I don’t mind the dark. But there were many points I felt like we moved beyond dark, into abject misery and hopelessness. And even that I could have forgiven, if the book had ended just one page sooner. After all we endured at Cleopatra’s side, I needed a different ending than we got. I understand why it ended this way; but I didn’t like it. 3 1/2 stars.

*ARC Provided by Dutton

Comments

  1. I hate being unhappy with a book’s ending! Insightful review. I’ve always been fascinated with Cleopatra and Egyptian mythology.

  2. The concept sounds good, but I don’t think I can wait for a book to get going. Once I get started, I have to finish the book so I try to avoid situations like this. Great review!!

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