The Pharaoh and the Librarian by Amber Polo
What if Cleopatra faked her death and escaped on a pirate ship? While her sister sailed for Wales with the most valuable ancient books from her Library of Alexandria? And they both landed in an imagined new world filled with crypto-creatures and historical humans?
Trekking the desert of 1st century New Mexico, Cleo from the Yucatan and Alex from Nova Scotia, they’d need bravery and help from friends and lovers to evade inner demons and determined villains across an uncharted wilderness filled with crypto–creatures and historical humans.
Targeted Age Group:: All audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 1 – G Rated Clean Read
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I love journey stories and what would happen if one thing in history changed. The thrill of imaging what the New World could have been like in the 1st century was too good to pass up. And then I wanted to add some creatures that could have been around then…like Bigfoot.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I based Cleopatra on the historical character – up to a point. I guessed that she'd be addicted to power and with power taken away she'd be a fish out of water and need a new addiction.
Midday light shone pale overhead, so unlike her brilliant Egyptian sun. Alex gazed at a rocky coast more barren than any she’d seen. A fitting land for exile.
Her boat’s cedar hull scraped shore and jolted to a halt. She grasped the rail as a gust of salt spray stung her cheek like nettle leaves and when she spoke to her captain her voice sounded braver than she felt. “Great thanks, Chigaru. You have brought me safe to Wales.” She counted three more boats preparing to land. “And my books, every scroll, tablet, and codex.”
The dark-skinned Egyptian swung himself over the side. Boots ankle-deep in soggy sand, he reached out. “My lady, may I assist you? The crossing has been rough.”
“No rougher than for those who came before bringing shipments of my library.” Pulling her robes close, she jumped. Her feet touched. Her sea-weakened legs folded. Her feigned bravery crumpled.
Chigaru lifted her and carried her to an outcropping and set her cold feet on colder stone. “Why here, Royal One? To this brutish country?”
She began to massage life back into her legs. “Anglesey Isle is the site of great learning. Under these dark Welsh rocks lie libraries of unmatched literature and history. Tis a safe place for our treasure.” Until Egypt once again was safe, here she would labor at what she knew best, caring for her books.
Already she missed Egypt. And her beloved sister. When oracles predicted her library would be burned, Alex began by stealth to pack and send books off across the sea. She’d kept her actions secret from her sister, Queen of the Nile, who collected titles like she collected necklaces. The last time she’d seen her twin, the great Cleopatra had sat, regal in a gold-edged tunic, grasping her crooked scepter. Cocky, controlling Cleo was tactless and temperamental—qualities which served her well as Pharaoh. Different as she was from her sister, Alex believed their love and loyalty once chosen would never waver. Yet, often Cleo chose unwisely.
Alex failed to convince Cleo that the true histories of all peoples must not fall into Roman hands. Those greedy ones would burn her Alexandrian Library and only tell their story of conquest and empire. Fearing Cleo’s bedchamber talk with her current Roman, Alex secretly left Egypt while her sweet sister was off waging war.
If only she didn’t miss her sister so. As the sea widened between them, her life force diminished as if shrunken by the salt air.
High above, a shriek and slap of wings caused her to crouch and cover her head with her hands. A blood-red body bore down, swooping from the sky so close she could see the lashes framing one gimlet eye. Before its segmented body lifted back into the sky she noted the leathered wings, clawed feet, and snaked tail. She’d read about the magnificent red dragons of the Welsh in Nennius’s Historia Brittonum, but never thought she’d see an ancient one herself. A good omen.
As she watched the creature soar away over ocean waves, a harsh cry pierced the air behind her. Alex spun around. Chigaru drew his sword. From behind a boulder a human-bodied creature sprang, guttural noises spouting from an outraged mouth. Waist-length yellow-red hair blew back, revealing a fierce female face. The blue fabric of the attacker’s cape matched her blazing cerulean eyes and the blue of her face. Not a good omen.
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