What if Cleopatra didn't die in 30 BC alongside her beloved Mark Antony? What if she couldn't die? What if she became immortal? Queen of Kings is the first instalment in an epic, epoch-spanning story of one woman's clash with the Roman Empire and the gods of Egypt in a quest to save everything she holds dear. As Octavian Caesar (later Augustus) and his legions march into Alexandria, Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, summons Sekhmet, the goddess of Death and Destruction, in a desperate attempt to resurrect her husband, who has died by his own hand, and save her kingdom. But this deity demands something in return: Cleopatra's soul. Against her will, Egypt's queen becomes a blood-craving, shape-shifting immortal: a not-quite-human manifestation of a goddess who seeks to destroy the world. Battling to preserve something of her humanity, Cleopatra pursues Octavian back to Rome - she desires revenge, she yearns for her children - and she craves blood... It is a dangerous journey she must make. She will confront witches, mythic monsters, the gods of ancient Greece and Rome, and her own, warring nature. She will kill but she will also find mercy. She will raise an extraordinary army to fight her enemies, and she will see her beloved Antony again. But to save him from the endless torment of Hades, she must make a devastating sacrifice. Brutally authentic historical fiction meets the darkest of fantasy in Maria Dahvana Headley's extraordinary debut novel about the most famous woman in history: Cleopatra, Queen of Kings.
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It's rare that a first novel is so magical, so dark, so well-researched, so smart or so compelling. Queen of Kings is a powerful work of the imagination, stalking the murky, dangerous territory between Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned and Robert Graves' I, Claudius and should appeal to those who like their historical fiction and those who crave dark magics and sharp teeth in the night. I can't wait to read what Ms Headley writes next. -
A page-turner: an epic historical thriller that combines a great love story with a slew of witches, gods, ghosts and classical monsters. Add the Roman army and Cleopatra and it is obvious: this is the book readers have been waiting for. -
Serpents, sorcerers, sex! Egypt, Rome, Greece! A brilliantly energetic smorgasbord. Gird your loins, dear readers, because Queen of Kings is on the loose! Hug your loved ones, tuck your head firmly between your knees, and hope that you're praying to the correct god. Because if you're not? Well, read this book to discover your fate... -
Like a hipper and darker 21st century Anne Rice. If you like your history mixed with fiction, and full of sex and magic and violence - and let's face it, that's how we all prefer it - then you're in for a hell of a ride. -
Mixes dark fantasy and historical fiction with large dollops of American Gods-style mythological bricolage...It's to Headley's credit that she makes this audaciously naff premise not only work, but work well...This is a shamelessly fun pop-historical blockbuster. - SFX magazine
Maria Dahvana Headley is the author of The Year of Yes: A Memoir, which has been translated into 9 languages and optioned for television and film. Her writing has also appeared in a number of literary anthologies plus publications such as The New York Times, Elle and the Washington Post. As a playwright, she is the creator of The Upstart Crow Project, an organization which is commissioning 37 female playwrights to adapt all the plays of Shakespeare into contemporary versions. She is a MacDowell Colony Fellow and lives in Seattle, with her husband, the playwright and screenwriter Robert Schenkkan. Queen of Kings is her first novel.