Reviewed by Tori
Ramses, Cleopatra, and Egypt come back to life under the deft hand of Anne Rice and her son Christopher Rice as they pen the long-awaited sequel to her best selling paranormal horror novel-The Mummy: Ramses the Damned. Ramses is not so damned anymore as he and his now immortal lover are engaged to be married. Finally content and in love, Ramses, now going by the name of Reginald Ramsey, looks favorably towards his future with Julie but knows deep in his heart that he has not seen the last of Cleopatra, his former queen and lover. A reckoning is coming and it will demand a heavy price for redemption.
If you have not read book one-The Mummy-beware the spoilers.
Fans of book one, The Mummy, will remember Ramses the Great. This former Pharaoh of Egypt, adviser and lover to Cleopatra, and immortal being was awakened by an archaeologist. He sat silent beneath his bandages, watching as the archaeologist was poisoned by his nephew, only come alive when it was about to happen again to the archaeologist’s daughter, Julie Stratford. Chaos and mayhem followed as London goes insane over rumors of curses, mummies, and death so Julie takes Ramses back to Egypt. While in Egypt, Ramses discovers the mummified corpse of Cleopatra and brings her back to life with the same elixir that made him immortal but something goes wrong and she comes back incomplete. Ramses’ desertion of her and the onslaught of changes in the world around her cause Cleopatra to stalk Ramses and his party until an argument sends her fleeing towards death. Though Ramses and Julie believe her dead, we see at the end that Cleopatra is not only alive, but planning her revenge.
The Passion of Cleopatra starts in 3600 BC Jericho and introduces us to Bektaten, a former African Queen and keeper of the immortal elixir. Bektaten was betrayed by her prime minister and lover, Saquos, in his quest for her secrets. Now centuries later, they meet in Jericho and once again he attempts to steal what is not his and soon learns that the ingredients to immortality isn’t the only secret Bektaten has been keeping. We then jump to the present (so to speak) day Cairo and meet up with Cleopatra. Still battling her unpredictable anger, paranoia, and vanishing memories, Cleopatra begins to prepare for her next meeting with Ramses. Ramses, is traveling with Julie and Elliott and experiencing this brave new world.
Surprisingly enough, eighteen years later doesn’t dampen the appeal of this sequel. A small but effective recap along with a strong almost standalone perspective written here almost eliminates the need for you to read The Mummy but I don’t recommend. Told from various points of view, a steady hand and loquacious narrative incorporates various mythologies, giving readers an appealing soap opera style adventure filled with action, suspense, danger, intrigue, and of course, romance. The story does start out slow as the world, characters, and conflicts are set up. Some readers may find the sheer amount of characters and plotlines daunting but once the story takes shape and finds it’s groove, it’s settles considerably.
The introduction of Bektaten and her loyal guards is organic and fits well with the tone of this story. The immortality elixir and it’s evolution is the main topic as the Rices dig deep to create an entire legend around it’s very existence and to explain the reasons behind what is happening to Cleopatra while offering Ramses a chance a redemption for his impetuous actions concerning Cleopatra and how he obtained the elixir in the first place. The lush descriptions and epic scenery is a perfect compliment to the prose that directs the story.
Beloved familiar faces and some new ones decorate the landscape, adding to it with their own tales of love, loss, betrayal, and forgiveness. Elliott, the Earl of Rutherford, is attempting to redeem himself by rebuilding his estate coffers while his son, Alex, tries to move forward after losing the love of his life. A new acquaintance, Sybil Parker, adds to the mysticism and magic of the story while Ramses and Julie try to help everyone they can but in the end, they to must accept some losses to the little family they have built. I want to add that everyone who read The Mummy will be pleased to see Julie FINALLY stops crying at the drop of a hat.
I feel hesitant to do more then touch on the romance because it is not as visible as it was in book one and it really is only an element in the story. Emotionally, Ramses and Julie are stronger than ever in there love but if you are looking for explicit love scenes, you will not find them in here. I do like that Elliott is given a chance at his own happiness but again, it is only touched upon in here.
The ending gives readers a comfortable stopping point while allowing for more to come should the Rices choose to continue. The Passion of Cleopatra is a fine sequel that more than satisfied. My only issue worth mentioning is the repetitiveness of certain descriptors. We are bombarded throughout the book about the blue eyes and the famed hunger suffered by immortals. Regardless, those who have been waiting for this sequel will be pleased to finally get the rest of the story.