When We Were Gods: The Story of Cleopatra

Written by Colin Falconer
Review by Suzanne Crane

Here is yet another novel about the last of the Ptolemy pharaohs, Cleopatra. Young when the reins of rulership are placed in her hands, she must overcome the innate treachery of her own family and plan for her own and Egypt’s survival as an independent nation. With keen intelligence, determination and charismatic allure she captivates, at first, the most powerful Roman, Julius Caesar, and after his assassination, Marc Antony. She is betrayed by flaws in character and judgment in herself and others, as well as by forces no one person could ever hope to overcome.

Falconer’s portrayal of this controversial woman is to refute the image of a grasping, avaricious tyrant bent on satisfying only her selfish lusts, as many would have her remembered. She is a queen intent on saving herself and her nation from predatory Rome. Behind the expected traits of ambition and ruthlessness needed by any reigning sovereign, Falconer’s Cleopatra is an all-too-mortal woman with the same desires and faults as any.

When We Were Gods is the warm and humane story of a desperate queen and woman who, against overwhelming odds, wagers all she is to prevent Egypt’s identity as a nation from being consumed by Rome. With dignity that few will ever possess, Cleopatra never abandons her futile bid for freedom and proves she was worthy to be Queen to the tragic end.