Yes, This Cleopatra is Steampunk!
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.
Book Excerpt or Article
The island palace was both home and prison, declared so by Pharaoh until the Cyprus crisis passed, for no danger of the Nile ever matched those of the Alexandrian streets; none of its beasts equaled her hunger.
The palace could do no more than physically seclude the children. Amani's mind ran free. Visually, she explored everything, beginning with the lighthouse and the island of Pharos, crossing the land bridge that separated the two harbors until she reached the waterfront with its docks, warehouses, and armories. Large cranes stood like silent sentinels at the harbor's edge. With the power of compressed water, each could lift incredible weights; now, they waited, motionless, resembling skeletal remains of ancient beasts.
The palace district was an uneven crescent moon. Cleopatra's island of Antirhodos rested upon the minor point, while various, brilliant buildings curved along the water's edge. It culminated at the greater point of Lochias, the palace peninsula.
Beyond the palaces were the Museum and Library, the theater of Dionysus, and the temples which served both the people as symbols of fidelity and the Pharaoh as the institutions of his bureaucracy, a human infrastructure Rome could not match. The Egyptian government collected its wealth from every stage of production. If Rome conquered Egypt, Egypt would suffer, but if Egypt could control Rome, Rome would prosper.
She and Cleopatra found solace out of the palace and beyond the garden and the red-granite columns, in the temple of Isis, where the statue of the goddess stood silent watch over the entrance.
Sitting on the steps, Amani caught a glimpse of sails on the horizon and recognized their cut.
A crowd gathered. Amani knew Pharaoh must be watching, as were Berenice and her mother, all of them waiting for news. Amani said nothing, but in her heart, she hoped and prayed I would be onboard.
The ship entered the harbor and docked. A fire rose in the lighthouse, and the sound of voices rumbled across the city.
When the voice of the mob washed over the harbor, Cleopatra and Amani were in the palace, sitting in silent vigil, but at their sound, Cleopatra rose to her feet, grabbed Amani's arm, and pulled her to the palace harbor. Whatever had become of Cyprus, it meant the end of Ptolemy's rule.
Amani yanked her arm free. “I'm not leaving. I've lived by your side; if need be, that is where I'll die.”
Instead of answering, Cleopatra wept and threw her arms around her. They held each other as the volume grew, like the bellow of a beast come to swallow them whole.
Amani stayed, and they waited through the night for someone to come. Sitting upright against the wall, she fell asleep. When she awoke to Cleopatra's touch, the morning light had not yet bled into the pure night sky.
“Did Philostratos come?” Amani asked.
Blackened tears smudged Cleopatra's cheeks. “My father has sent men for me.”
“What do you mean they've come for you? They come for us both.”
Cleopatra pulled her into her embrace. “Rather than see Rome strip away his kingdom, Pharaoh's brother has taken his own life.”
As if in response, the voice of the city rose afresh.
“I'm going with you,” Amani repeated.
“The people will kill Pharaoh if they reach him.”
“I'm going with you.”
“It won't be safe for you in the palace.”
“Then let me come.” Amani couldn't hear the pain in her own voice until she saw it reflected in Cleopatra's eyes.
The soldiers came. They had waited as long as they could. Amani struggled to follow after them, but one shoved her to the ground and drew his sword against her.
Amani pushed up against the floor. Let them kill her if they must. She would not stop.
Cleopatra ran between them and stopped the blade with a touch. She led Amani to the family port and handed Amani an oar.
“Go,” she commanded. “Save yourself.”
Amani refused the oar and clung to her. “I can't leave you.”
Cleopatra again pushed the oar into Amani's grasp. “Get into the boat or never see me again.”
Amani could say nothing. When Cleopatra turned to leave, Amani did not follow. Cleopatra looked back, and Amani saw both terror and conviction in her eyes. At last, Amani relented and stepped into the boat. Cleopatra returned to the edge of the dock and pushed the boat away. It glided upon the water, and as Amani passed out of the reach of the palace lights, Cleopatra turned away.
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, ThaddeusThomas.com. 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.