Tres Sugar-Pop Sugar's May Must Reads, May 2, 2011
"The dark, romantic novel Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley mixes history with vampire lore, imagining Cleopatra as a vengeful, bloodthirsty queen who travels to the underworld to save her kingdom and her king."
USA TODAY - 10 BOOKS NOT TO MISS IN MAY! - April 28, 2011
QUEEN OF KINGS is featured in a lineup of anticipated fiction and nonfiction titles in USA Today's Big Books roundup.
"Cleopatra is hot - and she's the subject of this debut novel, set in 30 BC."
PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY - GALLEYTALK - 4/25/11
By Stesha Brandon, University Bookstore, Seattle WA
"You may think you know vampires, and you may think you know Cleopatra, but in Maria Headley's inventive and sweeping historical fantasy, Queen of Kings (Dutton, May), the rulers of ancient Egypt and Rome grapple with bloodlust, magic, and betrayal in ways you'd never expect. Mark Antony commits suicide after the Battle of Actium, convinced that Cleopatra has betrayed him. In her grief, Cleopatra attempts a magical summoning that goes terribly wrong. She is possessed by the bloodthirsty Sekhmet, the Egyptian goddess of wrath. As Cleopatra begins to understand what has happened to her, she wrestles with her unnatural hunger and the anguish of losing her family. Meanwhile, Rome is being pulled apart as Octavian struggles to rule against the will of its senators. His personal history with Cleopatra pits the two against each other, even as Cleopatra attempts to join her husband in the Egyptian underworld. Readers of Guy Gavriel Kay will love the rich storytelling, laden with historical detail."
BOOKLIST (American Library Association)
Queen of Kings
Headley, Maria Dahvana (author).
May 2011. 416p. Dutton, hardcover, $25.95 (9780525952176).
REVIEW. First published April 15, 2011 (Booklist).
Cleopatra will exact her revenge, even if she has to cross over to the dark side to do it. Just when you think the subject and the character of Cleopatra have been exhausted, Headley adds a new twist to the timeworn legend by blending history, fantasy, and epic battle scenes in this intriguing genre bender, the first volume in a projected trilogy. Blaming Octavian for the death of her beloved Antony, Cleopatra strikes a bargain with the devil or, in this case, the warrior goddess Sekhmet. Trading her human life for an eternity as a blood-guzzling shape shifter, the queen sets out to settle the score with her old nemesis. All roads, even those in the shadowy netherworld, eventually lead to Rome and a reunion with her one true soul-mate. Can Cleopatra defeat Octavian, bring Rome to its knees, and even conquer death itself? Readers will keep turning the pages to find out.
— Margaret Flanagan
Review Date: March 15, 2011
Price (Hardcover): $25.95
Publication Date: May 12, 2011
It is not an asp that Cleopatra takes to her breast in this novel. It is Sekhmet, the daughter of Ra, the Sun God, summoned by the distraught queen and thereafter shifting into the form of a viper.
Antony, defeated at Actium, is besieged at Alexandria by Octavian, fragile boy turned emperor. A false message from the Roman camp reaches Antony saying that Cleopatra has betrayed him. Cleopatra, however, has retreated to the couple's fortress mausoleum and conjured a spell written by the old god-kings, a spell discovered and translated by Nicolaus, a scholar. With its incantation, Cleopatra became that which the Romans labeled her: fatale monstrum. Headley (The Year of Yes, 2007) carries the reader beyond history, beyond Shakespearean drama, and into the realm of angry gods, shape-shifters and vampires. Imbued with Sekhmet's power, Cleopatra becomes a night creature, flesh burnt by sun and metal, nourished only by human blood. Cleopatra, bent on revenge for the death of Antony, must watch as Octavian, her nemesis, provokes the murder of Caesarion, her son by Julius Caesar. Octavian then carries Cleopatra's three remaining children to Rome. After a visit to temple at Thebes, where a priestess keeps watch in the name of Sekhmet, Cleopatra shape-shifts into a lioness, steals aboard a slave ship and is transported to Rome. Octavian has been declared emperor, taking the name Caesar Augustus, but he still fears Cleopatra, and so he gathers three sorcerers from the Empire's edges to protect him, one of whom conjures up Antony from his ashes. Headley's complex plot also includes visits to Hades, circuses and gladiators, an epic battle at Avernus and the seven children of Sekhmet (plague, famine, earthquake, flood, drought, madness and violence) loosed upon the world.
First of a trilogy, this book, replete with descriptive language and a magical narrative, will appeal to fans of the fantasy genre.
Pre-Pub Alert, December 15, 2010
Headley, Maria Dahvana. Queen of Kings. Dutton. May 2011. NAp. ISBN 9780525952176. $25.95.
What does Cleopatra do when her beloved Antony kills himself? She strikes a bargain with the warrior goddess Sekhmet and becomes a vampire…I mean, a shapeshifting immortal with a thirst for blood. What follows is a series of fierce battles in the realm of the supernatural and possibly a meditation on the power of love. However this sounds, Headley has interesting credentials; she’s a playwright, founder of the Memoirists Collective, and author of the offbeat The Year of Yes.