Long before HBO took notice, McCullough was digging into the tangled web of deceit, treachery and intrigue that was the Roman Empire. Her novels burst with the vitality of Rome as the rich and powerful vie for favors. Though tales of the legendary lovers are well known, McCullough puts own her spin on history and sweeps you to the land along the Nile.

It is the ideal time for Cleopatra and Marc Antony to come together. Both are at their most vulnerable. Cleopatra has lost Julius Caesar, her lover, protector and father of her son, and Antony has lost his throne to Octavian.

Antony seeks a place where he can rule and a woman capable of helping him attain power. Sensual, powerful Cleopatra draws on his intelligence, cunning and political know how to raise him to Emperor of the East. But a passionate woman in his bed and children to carry on his legacy are not enough. (Simon and Schuster, Dec., 768 pp., $26.95)
Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin