Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra
Ramses The Damned #2
Paperback | Kindle | Audiobook
By Anne Rice & Christopher Rice
Publisher: Anchor Books
Release Date: November 21, 2017
The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned is my favorite of all things Anne Rice. For almost thirty years, I have loved that novel. The elegance and horror that exist side by side on those pages embodies everything I look for in a book. In no way is it the perfect example of any particular writing style or genre; instead it is a spectacular balance of the greatness that is needed to create a classical work of prose.
So you can only begin to imagine how ecstatic I was to learn that Rice was reviving these characters for a new release titled Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra. This was to be a dream come true, literally (pun intended).
The added bonus here is that she involved her son, Christopher Rice, in the penning of this tale. An exceptional author in his own right, he has written a multitude of books that I have enjoyed, ever since reading Snow Garden at the turn of the century. His intimate knowledge of his mother’s work undoubtedly made him the perfect collaborator on this project. I will admit the sense of the story is different, more evolved. This could be attributed to the length of time between novels or the addition of another writer. Either way, the results speak for themselves. Allow me to elaborate.
When last we left the characters of the original novel, we saw Ramses and the newly immortal Julie Stratford preparing to leave Egypt after learning of the supposed demise of the now immortal Cleopatra. Heartbroken Alex, once engaged to Julie but now hopelessly in love with the once-dead Egyptian queen, was left with no true knowledge of the events. His father, Elliott, a man of unshakeable faith and intelligence, had not only discovered Ramses’ secret of eternal life, but also helped nurture Cleopatra back to a semblance of sanity. His reward from Ramses was the elixir that would restore his vitality and make him as indestructible as Ramses and Julie. The story ended with no tales to unravel, no stones unturned. For greedy fans such as myself, this was never enough. The very few times I was privileged enough to meet Anne Rice, I inquired about a sequel, or at least attempted to as she was always extremely busy at signings. Time passed, as it always does, and I eventually let go of any hope of a sequel. That is until now!
The world of Ramses and company opens up far beyond that of Egypt and London in this follow-up tale. Hot on the heels of the first novel, we see that our lovely couple has taken to traveling and are now engaged to be wed. Oddly enough, Julie’s first fiancé, along with his mother, has offered to host the official engagement party for the two. Alex, however, has begun to develop more as a character. Instead of the simpering and overtly calm persona he delivered in the first book, this Alex has matured. He recognizes the irregularities in the events that occurred and calls them out on it, ensuring they know he is far wiser than first presented. This was a definite plus for me as I always loathed his one-dimensional presentation. In this newest story, he is a changed man; possibly due to the heartbreaks he endured prior.
As news of the possibility of Cleopatra surviving the horrid explosion that should have claimed her life reaches the ears of our protagonists, we are subtly introduced to other characters and groups. It seems that, unbeknownst to Ramses, other immortals have existed far longer than he. In fact, some of them have developed other formulas to mimic the effects that immortalized them all, though some have varied effects on longevity. As plans unfold and sides are taken, we bear witness to a grudge that is millennia old. Hatred of that sort knows no bounds and suffers no interference when vengeance is at hand. Those once friends become enemies and those who opposed one another find themselves bound to fight on the same side. As alliances form, some debts are accrued while others are forgiven.
There is more than enough action for even the most die-hard fan. In fact, at times, one has to remember that this is a fight between immortals. I was afraid at first that a few scenes were mimicking another book by Rice, The Queen of the Damned. But it was obvious quickly that this was far from the truth. Personalities were explored in this story, some almost to the point of belaboring, but all in all the characters were deepened, explored, and grew as the book progressed. I expect another from the Rice family. And I would prefer it sooner rather than later as I cannot imaging waiting another 20-plus years for a follow-up story.
If you have ever liked an Anne Rice book or if the original tale was one you enjoyed, then buy this book. Go out right now and purchase it. I urge you to dive in, with both feet, and just read. You cannot imagine how fast I consumed this or how it almost consumed me. And when you are done, you will probably want to pick up a copy for a friend or family member since the holidays are already here. Alrighty, I am done now. I tried really hard not to fanboy out over this and I like to think I was mostly successful. Happy reading, geeks!
Ramses the Great, former pharaoh of Egypt, is reawakened by the elixir of life in Edwardian England. Now immortal with his bride-to-be, he is swept up in a fierce and deadly battle of wills and psyches against the once-great Queen Cleopatra. Ramses has reawakened Cleopatra with the same perilous elixir whose unworldly force brings the dead back to life. But as these ancient rulers defy one another in their quest to understand the powers of the strange elixir, they are haunted by a mysterious presence even older and more powerful than they, a figure drawn forth from the mists of history who possesses spectacular magical potions and tonics eight millennia old. This is a figure who ruled over an ancient kingdom stretching from the once-fertile earth of the Sahara to the far corners of the world, a queen with a supreme knowledge of the deepest origins of the elixir of life. She may be the only one who can make known to Ramses and Cleopatra the key to their immortality—and the secrets of the miraculous, unknowable, endless expanse of the universe.