The Passion of Cleopatra (Ramses the Damned #2) by Anne Rice and Christopher Rice

by - November 04, 2017

The Passion of Cleopatra (Ramses the Damned, #2)This much-anticipated sequel (almost 30 years in the making!) sputtered off to an unfortunate slow start. All characters are meandering about, going somewhere, presumably, do something, I guess. Yawn. (Okay, okay, I'm being too harsh -- Alex and his mother are going to throw an engagement party for Julie and Ramses, and the whole world is invited.) The first 50%-60% was a bit of a slog.

With all of Ramses' news coverage and the media spectacle of the mummy's curse, other immortals (spoiler alert -- they're out there) notice that Mr. Reginald Ramsey is probably older than he looks. It seems the formula for creating other immortals has been lost to time, but when other immortals notice that twenty-something Julie suddenly has the tell-tale eyes of an immortal, clearly Ramses still knows the recipe; the villains are not above coming after the people Ramses cares about to get the secret from him.

Another immortal is introduced, Bektaten, a living relic of ancient Africa with mysteriously altruistic intentions. She is the most intriguing character of the book, notwithstanding an awkward and easily-skippable bodice-ripper scene made all the more awkward by the fact that a mother and son wrote it.

Poor Cleopatra's storyline is the most sympathetic; she simultaneously regains her sense of self-awareness while losing the memories of her past life. The most heartbreaking moment in the book is when someone casually mentions her son, Caesarion, and she realizes she has no memory whatsoever of having a son. I just want her and Alex to live happily ever after, is that too much to ask? Can the next book just be about nice things happening to them, please?

The overall existential melancholy is on par with other works by Ms. Rice. It explores the mythology of reincarnation; the way souls' journeys are explained in this universe is clever. Don't forget the age-old Rice question of the point of immortality -- is it even worth it? What is your responsibility to a world you can't check out of?

Worth reading, if you're into that sort of thing. I have a feeling a book 3 is coming, although I haven't seen any indication of it other than the fact that The Passion of Cleopatra didn't feel completely solved.

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