Cleopatra is centered as a catalytic figure, someone whose movements affected not only her contemporary world but the greater view of history. Her acumen and intelligence are detailed as well as her beauty, though it is admitted that the latter is frequently drawn from biased accounts that painted her as only a seductress. The political machinations, betrayal, and battles may appeal to those fans of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series interested in a real-world game of thrones.
... readable ... combines scholarship with novelistic detail and character depth ... Notwithstanding the author’s lapses into overheated language, he effectively draws on previous scholarship, wading through legend and myth to get at the truth of what actually occurred. Angela engages readers with rhetorical questions and emphasizes that Cleopatra was a thoroughly modern woman, instrumental in paving the way for the Roman Empire under the ruthless Octavia ... A character-rich historical biography that will have special appeal to young students of history.
... spirited yet somewhat overwrought ... Though Angela strives to make the ancient world accessible to modern readers, long sections in which he plays tour guide through the streets of Rome and Alexandria offer genuine insights but slow the narrative pace, and the significance of Cleopatra and Marc Antony’s first meeting is undercut with comparisons to Lady Gaga and Jim Carrey’s 'jaw dropping to the ground' in The Mask. This well-intentioned history swings and misses.