– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Steampunk Cleopatra’ blogtour, organized by The Coffee Pot Book Club.
To promote this book I have a guest post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Thaddeus Thomas lives on the Mississippi River with his wife and three cats. Steampunk Cleopatra is his first novel, but he has a short story collection available at his website. There he also runs a book club where readers can receive indie book reviews and recommendation. His second book—Detective, 26 AD—releases July 9th and follows Doubting Thomas as he is conscripted to be an investigator for Pontius Pilate.
Book Title: Steampunk Cleopatra
Author: Thaddeus Thomas
Publication Date: 21st May 2021
Publisher: Independently Published
Page Length: 419 Pages
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Amani, a companion of Cleopatra, seeks to rediscover Egypt’s suppressed science and history. She is the beloved of her princess become queen, but that may not be enough to overcome the system they’ve inherited. If she fails, her country and Cleopatra, both, could fall. History meets fantasy, and together, they create something new. Experience an intelligent thriller about star-crossed lovers and an ancient science that might have been.
Guest Post :
Much of what we think we know about Cleopatra, is Roman propaganda. She was a brilliant woman whose work on medicine was collected in the Library of Alexandria. She spoke many languages and was the first Ptolemaic Pharaoh to speak Egyptian. She engaged directly with the rituals of the people in ways her predecessors never did.
At the same time, the Ptolemaic dynasty was a colonizing force. The first Ptolemy was a Macedonian Greek, one of Alexander’s generals. They built Alexandria as a Greek oasis from which they could control the wealth of Egypt, and as Rome ascended to power, they saw the precariousness of their position. For years, the Roman civil wars worked in their favor, distracting attention, and dividing the Senate. Every Roman in a position of power wanted to control Egypt, but none of them wanted any other Roman to have her.
The opposition to first Caesar and then Mark Anthony responded by painting a picture of Cleopatra as a seducer who beguiled Caesar. In reality, he was a fifty-year-old man with a long history of sexual conquests. She was twenty-one and quite possibly still a virgin. The Roman opposition claimed her power was in her beauty and sexuality, but the few images we have of her tell another story. She had no great beauty to depend upon, and the writers who spoke honestly found her power in her wit, charm, and intellect.
I have chosen to tell a story that tells what little we know of Cleopatra’s early years while examining one of the world’s most compelling mysteries. What wonders did we lose in the destruction of the Library of Alexandria?
This destruction, itself, falls into myth with the story of the library burning in the fire caused by Caesar during the Alexandrian civil war. In truth, the library continued on to be devastated by Christian Rome in an attempt to crush pagan thought and then again many years later by Islamic forces for the same reasons.
To understand what we lost, the answer should be hinted at in what we know, and in the first century C.E., Hero of Alexandria invented the world’s first steam engine. One of the early masters of the Library, Euclid, is known as the founder of geometry, and his work was the central teaching text on the subject into the twentieth century. At various times, Alexandria had moving sidewalks, vending machines, and automatons that moved under their own power. This is not fantasy, this is history.
The scientific discoveries made in the library in its first few hundred years are astounding, and I questioned why that was. Did the explosions of knowledge come out of nowhere, born purely out of the genius of this colonizing force or did the Ptolemies do what colonizers always do: exploit; suppress; and supplant? Maybe what we really lost was the history and science stolen from Egypt.
Steampunk is usually relegated to the Victorian era because that is the historic birth of steam power, but so many of the foundational principles upon which all that technology was built come to us through Alexandria, Egypt. This is historical fiction about a history we may have been denied, and that is what makes it fantasy. The victorious write history. This is an unwritten history, fantasized within the cracks of our knowledge, not set in opposition to what we know but in concert with it.
We see much of this in the book, but her relationship with the people is symbolized in her love for her childhood companion, the book’s main character, Amani.
The story is told through the eyes of Philostratos, tutor to Amani and Cleopatra, but the story is Amani’s. She is a Black Egyptian of Nubian descent and wins her place as Cleopatra’s companion through personality and intellect. The book is Philostratos’s attempt to grapple with his role in her history.
In that sense, it is very much a book for this time. The flow of history has shaken many of us and challenged our core beliefs. Maybe we are not who we thought we were, and perhaps, clinging to that old mythology is not the way to move forward. Perhaps, there is a better way.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds