For the seventeen years of Zenobia’s life, she has seen how women are treated and she does not want that life. She is the daughter of a Ras in Palmyra and dreams of becoming her father’s successor, but as a woman that will never happen. Even so, the burning desire of ambition dwells within her. She refuses every suitor that her father provides to her and her mother and sisters are constantly on her case about getting married. Then , in a battle against the desert rebels, her father is killed. Instead of mourning his loss like a proper daughter, she rides into the desert to find her brother-in-law, who is the new Ras. Once she finds him, she sees that their band of soldiers is scared and on the verge of desertion. In an inspiring speech, she rallies the soldiers who then defeat the rebels and save the city.
Finding a small taste of power, Zenobia manages to change her political status by convincing the Roman lieutenant of the East to take her as his second wife. Shortly after she has a son, but his first wife has a son as well. After a traitor kills the lieutenant and his older son, Zenobia rises to power as the lieutenant while her son is too young to rule. In a plan to overthrow Rome and take over the empire, Zenobia and her main guard devise a desperate if not clever plan to take over Antioch and Egypt. But can she hold off Rome’s new emperor Aurelian? Or will her new empire be doomed before it can even begin?
Before reading this book, I had no idea that this was based on historical events. I just knew that I like historical fiction concerning Rome and Egypt and was looking forward to a good story. What I wound up with was a story that caused me to perform a lot of research in parallel to each milestone that took place. I love it when a story makes me do that. It just brings a little something extra to the novel.
Overall the book started out a little bit slow, but really picked up after the death of Zenobia’s father. Zenobia’s character really showcased her ambition and was very believable in her actions. People actually wanted to follow her because of her commanding personality, even though she was small.
There was a little foul language in the book, but not much. It could have easily not had the stronger words and easily stood on its own just fine. A little violence, but not enough to cause an issue. Overall a worthy read.
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