Against the rising power of Rome, Egypt is the last and strongest bastion of the Eastern Hellenistic kingdoms.
Charmian is Cleopatra's half sister, daughter of Pharaoh and a woman of the harem.
She shares a great honour and a terrible burden with Cleopatra and their sister Iras - they are fated to defend Egypt from those who would destroy her. So when Roman Julius Caesar comes to Egypt in pursuit of his enemies, Charmian and her sisters are drawn into a deadly struggle. One that will shape the world to come. From mysterious temples hidden in the desert to the perilous palaces of Rome, from the tomb of Alexander the Great to the very Gates of Amenti, Charmian must face foes seen and unseen in a battle for her family, her love and her gods.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 528 pages, Illustrations, map
- Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
- Publication Date: 05/03/2009
- Category: Fantasy
- ISBN: 9781841497006
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by merigreenleaf
I haven't had the opportunity to read much historical fiction (it's a genre I'd like to get into), but I am interested in ancient Egypt, so I was happy when I won "Hand of Isis" through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. And let me just say, I wasn't disappointed! This was a very well-written, creative story with interesting characters and a solid plot. I like the way Graham wrote the characters from childhood to adulthood, and I thought the scenes of the Underworld were a neat idea and well spaced throughout the book. I also enjoyed reading about historical characters in a way that made them seem very human, and the idea of telling the story through the eyes of a relatively unimportant character was an interesting approach. The fact that the narrator was an interesting (I liked that she was able to have prophetic dreams and flashes- it added to her character) really made the story great.The are a few things I didn't like, or thought could have been better edited. For one, one of the main characters, Iras, doesn't get nearly as much attention as her two sisters, and by the time the characters are adults, is barely in the story. Cleopatra also ends up taking the backseat to the narrating character, Charmian, at that point, as well. I can see that Charmian is the narrator, so should get attention, but I think it would have been better if her sisters had been in the story as much when they were adults as when they were children, especially since they're still together most of the time. I didn't have much of a problem with the sex scenes; they were fairly short and not too frequent. I have rather mixed feelings on the reincarnation and past memories of the main character and a few others, though; on the one hand, I thought this was a cool idea, but on the other hand, it was kind of distracting at times. I mean, the book would have been fine with the characters just being who they were without past memories, and maybe would have left more room for current character development, which I would have liked. All in all, though, I really enjoyed this book and will be looking for more by this author. I'll also recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, especially when it comes to ancient history (I know I'm going to tell my friend who loves ancient Egypt about this book!).
Review by ElizaJane
This is the story of Cleopatra told through the eyes of her sisterly handmaiden. Born just months apart, it is the story of three sisters, all of whom have the same Pharaoh as a father. One of them, had the first Queen as her mother while the other two were born from the Pharaoh's harem. The two sisters of the harem are given to Cleopatra as handmaidens when they are five years old to be playmates for her and to attend studies with the princess who is a forgotten third daughter of the dead first Queen. The girls spend their childhood banished to a Temple Island and when they come back Cleopatra is the new Pharaoh. The book continues through the period of Julius Caesar, then Mark Anthony and finally the fateful death of Cleopatra and her two handmaidens by snakebite.The book is told through the eyes of the youngest sister, Charmian, as she describes her life in relation to Cleopatra's. The first part of the book when the sister's are children growing up on the island together was good reading and a great start to the book. One got to know each of the three girls quite well, though of course Charmian's character stood out the most. As the girl's became adults and moved back to Alexandria, Charmain's secondhand view of Cleopatra really filtered down her character and the third sister all but disappeared from the main plot making the story revolve around Charmain. This is unfortunate because at this time Charmain's life becomes graphically s*xual and from this point on there are many elements of the book that didn't appeal to me at all.Jo Graham's first book Black Ships was stellar (you can read my review here) and I was disappointed not to have enjoyed this one very much. The fantasy element of the book, while not being much in the way of fantasy was quite intriguing. The book starts with Charmain being dead as she enters the Egyptian Underworld to have her heart weighed on the scales against a feather. Here she meets Thoth and Isis and other Egyptians gods. Essentially the book is her telling her life story to the gods to see whether the goodness in her heart outweighs the evil. Every so often during the novel we would switch back to these interludes of Charmian in the Underworld.Unfortunately, the graphic s*xual nature of the book and the elements therein were too much for my own conservative nature and I can not recommend the book. However others have enjoyed the book and you can read other positive reviews here.
Review by thorswitch
I was really looking forward to this book as I've ancient Egypt has long fascinated me, and, in particular, the Goddess Isis. Sadly, I wasn't able to get very far into the book. I can't really put a finger on it, but something just felt "off." Part of it, I think, is that Charmain came off as just a bit too precocious to me in the beginning, and after reading the first several chapters, I just sort of found myself less and less motivated to pick up the book and try to finish it.