Humorous historical fiction set in Egypt when Cleopatra, at 15, starts to rule with her father (long before Julius Caesar and Marc Antony). Not for the kiddies: adult themes and situations, but nothing graphic.
An out-of-the-box romp through Ptolemaic Egypt, without elitist aristocratic snobbery and posturing. Even Cleopatra, her father the Pharaoh, and Caesar (in Gaul) are all real people: people you’d recognize from your neighborhood … like that guy who refuses to rake his leaves to stop them from blowing all over YOUR lawn. Immerse yourself in ancient Egypt, which, other than raw technology, isn’t really that different from where YOU live… except for residents that are more probably entertaining.
Cleopatra is learning to rule, faced with the bankruptcy of Egypt and a crippling debt to Rome … all caused by her father. She becomes co-regent then queen, sharing the throne with her father (no fiction, so far). The stories center around her schemes to raises finances, and the personalities of people that do the real work outside the royal court. Women call the shots, men do the sweat labor.
54 BC follows the adventures of two scribes (and a cast of a few) on a covert mission 4000 miles up and down the Nile to the Kush gold fields. Well, one is an ex-witch doctor but it gets complicated quickly. Visit sites up and down the Nile as the pair continually deal with unpredictable situations. Experience how the actual Delphi intelligence network could have been used. Meanwhile, Cleopatra juggles the Romans on multiple fronts, and gets hold of the basics of manipulating people. Caesar, 1000’s of miles away, winds up quite befuddled by an untitled teenage royal he’s never heard of.
Scholars, scribes, priestesses, working girls, military, sailors, bandits, pirates, assassins, crocodiles, scorpions, temple mysteries … and a small dog. What’s not to like? More complete descriptions and ALL SORTS of supplementary information on the author website.
Targeted Age Group:: 18 to 80
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The "I Claudius" books opened my eyes to historical figures being more that heroic mannequins, only spouting memorable quotes … they were people, just regular people. I like to say they weren't "like" us, they "were" us.
I had an idea that started with an ancient cartographer and the actual Delphi intelligence network, and picked a time that was kind of a historic blank spot in a fully formed, very advanced civilization. Then I researched everything I could find to make the canvas that my characters wind their way through as correct as possible.
It would be boring to follow characters just like the people around you, going about their jobs and dealing with family, so I made it humorous to make it entertaining … in addition to surprising circumstances and adventure.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I don't like exposition: sometimes it just can't be avoided. I prefer dialog, and the book is largely conversations … no sweeping descriptions of palaces, or royal clothing, or scenery. The book is about people.
I found early that the best exchanges, the most pithy lines, were actually said in conversations I've witnessed or otherwise overheard. Most of the characters in my book are people I've known, or composites. The things they say they've already said, or WOULD say given the situation. Stumble across something REALLY clever? I stole it.
What I do is describe a character with some depth, then just let them … and I tag along to jot down what happens. I introduced one character to avoid exposition, but once I gave him a name, he refused to fade back into the background and became a major character by his own insistence. That happened a lot: once I give them a name, they want to be in the story.
“Pothinus? Every single time I try to get ahead, that damn Princess finds some way of defeating me!”
“You’re just figuring that out NOW? … You’ve got to be kidding, Theodotus.”
“It’s like someone’s telling her what I’m thinking!”
“Let’s start with me. Do you think I’m playing both sides?”
“That’s right. I don’t speak with anyone on the Princess’ side … do you know why?”
“Because they WON’T talk to me. I’m permanently soiled by association with you.”
“Then how the Hell does she know what’s going on?”
“First, the Princess is very clever, is thinking all the time, can read you like a book, and anticipates you. … Second, has it occurred to you that you blab to EVERYONE? Servants, slaves, random bystanders, vendors … ‘Someday I’ll be in control, you’d better be nice to me! I’ll start a revolt in Memphis … you’ll see!’”
“I don’t do that.”
“Only a hundred times a day.”
“Pothinus? Do you have any connections to the League of Assassins?”
“The what now?”
“The … League … of ASSASSINS.” <He was using his shifty actor look.>
“It doesn’t help if you say it slower. … There’s no such thing.”
“I get it …” <he awkwardly winked> “… no such thing.”
“Isis’ Great Teat, you’re such a child sometimes. You need to stop reading those Syrian action novels.”
“But, but, but …”
“Look at the economics of it. There’s a bunch of dastardly guys waiting for a commission to kill someone … sitting around a table or something? Drinking beer, playing Senet? How often would they possibly get work? There’s a lot of assassinations? That need professionals? What part of you are you using to ‘think’?”
“But … people get … killed … don’t they?”
“I don’t like my neighbor’s wife because she screams at him too much and it upsets my digestion? There’s always a handy crocodile to take care of her. Egypt is the very model of self-sufficiency.”
“What about royals?”
“Who killed Ptolemy VI’s two sons? Assassins?”
“Who killed Cleopatra III? Assassins?”
“Who killed Cleopatra IV? Assassins?”
“Who killed Berenike IV? Assassins?”
“You did a lot better than I expected … been studying dynastic succession? Did you conclude anything about your legendary ‘assassins’?”
“Surely they didn’t wield the daggers themselves?”
“We’re talking Ptolemies, here.”
“What?! ALL of them?”
“Some, like the Pharaoh, used royal guards. What’s the difference? By any chance, do you know who our royal guards are fiercely loyal to? Any guesses? Someone not you?”
“Let me give you something to ponder, Theodotus. Suppose you found some blood thirsty idiot who would do your bidding and assassinate … someone. When the interrogators got hold of him and slowly started turning him inside-out, whose name do you suppose he would scream?”
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