Antony and Cleopatra: A Novel

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A sweeping epic of ancient Rome from the #1 bestselling author of The Thorn Birds

In this breathtaking follow-up to The October Horse, Colleen McCullough turns her attention to the legendary romance of Antony and Cleopatra, and in this timeless tale of love, politics, and power, proves once again that she is the best historical novelist of our time.

Caesar is dead, and Rome is, again, divided. Lepidus has retreated to Africa, while Antony rules the opulent East, and Octavian claims the West, the heart of Rome, as his domain. Though this tense truce holds civil war at bay, Rome seems ripe for an emperor -- a true Julian heir to lay claim to Caesar's legacy. With the bearing of a hero, and the riches of the East at his disposal, Antony seems poised to take the prize. Like a true warrior-king, he is a seasoned general whose lust for power burns alongside a passion for women, feasts, and Chian wine. His rival, Octavian, seems a less convincing candidate: the slight, golden-haired boy is as controlled as Antony is indulgent and as cool-headed and clear-eyed as Antony is impulsive. Indeed, the two are well matched only in ambition.

And though politics and war are decidedly the provinces of men in ancient Rome, women are adept at using their wits and charms to gain influence outside their traditional sphere. Cleopatra, the ruthless, golden-eyed queen, welcomes Antony to her court and her bed but keeps her heart well guarded. A ruler first and a woman second, Cleopatra has but one desire: to place her child on his father, Julius Caesar's, vacant throne. Octavian, too, has a strong woman by his side: his exquisite wife, raven-haired Livia Drusilla, who learns to wield quiet power to help her husband in his quest for ascendancy. As the plot races toward its inevitable conclusion -- with battles on land and sea -- conspiracy and murder, love and politics become irrevocably entwined.

McCullough's knowledge of Roman history is detailed and extensive. Her masterful and meticulously researched narrative is filled with a cast of historical characters whose motives, passions, flaws, and insecurities are vividly imagined and expertly drawn. The grandeur of ancient Rome comes to life as a timeless human drama plays out against the dramatic backdrop of the Republic's final days.
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Not since The Thorn Birds has Colleen McCullough written a novel of such broad appeal about a family and the Australian experience as The Touch.
At its center is Alexander Kinross, remembered as a young man in his native Scotland only as a shiftless boilermaker's apprentice and a godless rebel. But when, years later, he writes from Australia to summon his bride, his Scottish relatives quickly realize that he has made a fortune in the gold fields and is now a man to be reckoned with.
Arriving in Sydney after a difficult voyage, the sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Drummond meets her husband-to-be and discovers to her dismay that he frightens and repels her. Offered no choice, she marries him and is whisked at once across a wild, uninhabited countryside to Alexander's own town, named Kinross after himself. In the crags above it lies the world's richest gold mine.
Isolated in Alexander's great house, with no company save Chinese servants, Elizabeth finds that the intimacies of marriage do not prompt her husband to enlighten her about his past life -- or even his present one. She has no idea that he still has a mistress, the sensual, tough, outspoken Ruby Costevan, whom Alexander has established in his town, nor that he has also made Ruby a partner in his company, rapidly expanding its interests far beyond gold. Ruby has a son, Lee, whose father is the head of the beleaguered Chinese community; the boy becomes dear to Alexander, who fosters his education as a gentleman.
Captured by the very different natures of Elizabeth and Ruby, Alexander resolves to have both of them. Why should he not? He has the fabled "Midas Touch" -- a combination of curiosity, boldness and intelligence that he applies to every situation, and which fails him only when it comes to these two women.
Although Ruby loves Alexander desperately, Elizabeth does not. Elizabeth bears him two daughters: the brilliant Nell, so much like her father; and the beautiful, haunting Anna, who is to present her father with a torment out of which for once he cannot buy his way. Thwarted in his desire for a son, Alexander turns to Ruby's boy as a possible heir to his empire, unaware that by keeping Lee with him, he is courting disaster.
The stories of the lives of Alexander, Elizabeth and Ruby are intermingled with those of a rich cast of characters, and, after many twists and turns, come to a stunning and shocking climax. Like The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough's new novel is at once a love story and a family saga, replete with tragedy, pathos, history and passion. As few other novelists can, she conveys a sense of place: the desperate need of her characters, men and women, rootless in a strange land, to create new beginnings.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Dec 4, 2007
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Pages
576
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ISBN
9781416577317
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / General
Fiction / Historical
Fiction / Romance / Historical / General
History / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In her new book about the men who were instrumental in establishing the Rome of the Emperors, Colleen McCullough tells the story of a famous love affair and a man whose sheer ability could lead to only one end -- assassination.
As The October Horse begins, Gaius Julius Caesar is at the height of his stupendous career. When he becomes embroiled in a civil war between Egypt's King Ptolemy and Queen Cleopatra, he finds himself torn between the fascinations of a remarkable woman and his duty as a Roman. Though he must leave Cleopatra, she remains a force in his life as a lover and as the mother of his only son, who can never inherit Caesar's Roman mantle, and therefore cannot solve his father's greatest dilemma -- who will be Caesar's Roman heir?
A hero to all of Rome except to those among his colleagues who see his dictatorial powers as threats to the democratic system they prize so highly, Caesar is determined not to be worshiped as a god or crowned king, but his unique situation conspires to make it seem otherwise. Swearing to bring him down, Caesar's enemies masquerade as friends and loyal supporters while they plot to destroy him. Among them are his cousin and Master of the Horse, Mark Antony, feral and avaricious, priapic and impulsive; Gaius Trebonius, the nobody, who owes him everything; Gaius Cassius, eaten by jealousy; and the two Brutuses, his cousin Decimus, and Marcus, the son of his mistress Servilia, sad victim of his mother and of his uncle Cato, whose daughter he marries. All are in Caesar's debt, all have been raised to high positions, all are outraged by Caesar's autocracy.
Caesar must die, they decide, for only when he is dead will Rome return to her old ways, her old republican self.
With her extraordinary knowledge of Roman history, Colleen McCullough brings Caesar to life as no one has ever done before and surrounds him with an enormous and vivid cast of historical characters, characters like Cleopatra who call to us from beyond the centuries, for McCullough's genius is to make them live again without losing any of the grandeur that was Rome.
Packed with battles on land and sea, with intrigue, love affairs, and murders, the novel moves with amazing speed toward the assassination itself, and then into the ever more complex and dangerous consequences of that act, in which the very fate of Rome is at stake.
The October Horse is about one of the world's pivotal eras, relating as it does events that have continued to echo even into our own times.
From the author of the bestselling The Dangerous Book for Boys
 
“Brilliant…stunning,” raved the Los Angeles Times about Conn Iggulden’s first novel, Emperor: The Gates of Rome. “Iggulden is a grand storyteller,” declared USA Today. Now Iggulden returns to the landscape of ancient Rome and the life of Julius Caesar in a new novel filled with all the sumptuous storytelling that distinguished his first book. Sweeping from the windswept, pirate-ruled seas to the stifling heat of the Roman senate, Iggulden takes us further down the path to glory as Julius Caesar comes into his own as a man, warrior, senator, husband, leader.

In a sweltering, sparsely settled region of North Africa, a band of disheveled soldiers turn their eyes toward one man among them. Ragged, dirty, and half starved, the men will follow their leader into the mad, glorious fight for honor and revenge that only he wants to fight. Their leader is named Julius Caesar. The soldiers are Roman legionaries. And their quarry is a band of pirates who made the mistake of seizing Julius Caesar—and holding him for ransom. Now, to get his revenge, Caesar will turn peasants into soldiers, building a shipborne fighting force that will not only decimate a pirate fleet but will dominate the Mediterranean, earning him the coveted title Military Tribune of Rome.

While Caesar builds a legend far from Rome, his friend Gaius Brutus is fighting battles of another sort, rising to power in the wake of the shocking assassination of a dictator. Once Brutus and Caesar were as close as brothers, both devoted to the same ideals and attracted to the same forbidden woman. Now, when Caesar returns—with the winds of glory at his back—they will find themselves at odds. For each has built an army of elite warriors—Caesar’s forged in far-flung battles, Brutus’ from Rome’ s political killing fields. But in an era when men die for their treachery and their allegiances, the two men will soon be united by a shock wave from the north. There, a gladiator named Spartacus is gathering strength, building an army of seventy thousand desperate slaves—to fight a cataclysmic battle against Rome itself.

Filled with unforgettable images—from the death throes of a king to the birth of Caesar’s child, from the bloody battlefields of Greece to the silent passion of lovers—Emperor: The Death of Kings is an astounding work, a stunning blend of vibrant history and thrilling fiction.


From the Hardcover edition.
In a novel of sweeping narrative power unequaled since her own beloved worldwide bestseller The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCullough returns to Australia -- this time with the story of its birth.
At the center of her new novel is Richard Morgan, son of a Bristol tavern-keeper, devoted husband and loving father, sober and hardworking craftsman. By the machinations of fate and the vagaries of the 18th-century English judicial system, he is consigned as a convict to the famous "First Fleet," which set sail, bearing, as an experiment in penology, 582 male and 193 female felons sentenced to transportation, in May of 1787 for the continent that Captain Cook had discovered only a few years earlier.
The word "epic" is overused, but no other word can do justice to one of the most grueling and significant voyages in human history or to the courage of the convicts whose sufferings were not ended but had only just begun when they set foot on Australian soil at Botany Bay on January 19th, 1788.
Of those convicts, Richard Morgan stood out, not only for his strength and his calm determination to let no man bully him, but also for his intelligence, his fair-mindedness, his common sense, and his willingness to help others. To these qualities must be added a certain innate dignity that hinted, even in the most terrible conditions, at a life marked by tragedies that would have broken most men.
In Richard Morgan, Colleen McCullough has created one of her most compelling characters. We see through Morgan's eyes the two worlds in which the story takes place: that of 18th-century Bristol, where Morgan was born and expected to live out his life, and that of a convicted felon sent to settle a hostile new world.
When the book begins, Richard Morgan is a contented man -- happily married, with a child he adores. Then, piece by piece, his idyll crumbles until he finds himself led into an ambiguous relationship with a beautiful young woman, whose dissolute protector seeks vengeance on Morgan to protect his own skin.
He endures the agonies of bereavement and financial loss, incarceration in prison and aboard the notorious "hulks," then the horrors of the journeys to Botany Bay and Norfolk Island, where he finds against all odds a new love and a new life.
Richard Morgan's story is true, but in making Morgan the central figure of her novel, Colleen McCullough has created a hero whom no reader will ever forget; she has written not only a great adventure and a powerful love story, but also a book that combines the elements of Tom Jones and Mutiny on the Bounty.
Morgan's Run is great fiction, full of drama, passion, history, love, and hatred, full-blooded and totally engrossing, a stunning work that is at once rich entertainment -- and a revelation.
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