Rise (Dancing with the Lion #2) by Jeanne Reames
Cover Art: LC Chase
Writing Kleopatra and the Sisters
In the guest blogs for Becoming, I talked about Alexander and Women, and Alexander’s Mum, but I wanted to save his sisters for the release of Rise, as all three have more important roles in the second half.
In my first drafts of Dancing with the Lion, Kleopatra—Alexander’s only full sister—played a role, even a significant one near the end, but not as a point-of-view character. Yet I’d developed a real love for the character, and it finally occurred to me, “Hey, why don’t you just let her speak for herself?”
So I did.
For a variety of reasons, I stayed out of Myrtalē’s head (Alexander’s mother, better known to posterity as Olympias). But Kleopatra was another matter, and it seemed useful to provide her view not only on her brother, but also on their mother and father.
Yet she added so much more. Kleopatra opens a window onto the women’s quarters. Some of that is shown in Becoming, but we get a better view in Rise with Kleopatra’s undermining of her father’s last wife, also a Kleopatra. (The Macedonians had popular names too, so think of “Kleopatra” as the ancient Macedonian version of Taylor, Madison, or Elizabeth.)
It’d be a spoiler to tell what happens, but suffice to say the three sisters (really half-sisters) gang up on the interloper. Kynnane wields a spear (yes, she really could; her father took her to war), but Kleopatra? She wields an abacus and a loom. And she’s the chess master behind it all. Or perhaps we should say, the math mind behind it, three steps ahead of everybody else.
Kleopatra would go on to become the Queen of Epiros where, after her husband’s death, she took over as regent for her son. She and her brother would remain close, and reportedly, when he was told that she’d taken a lover, instead of expressing the expected outrage, replied, “Well, she ought to be allowed to enjoy herself.”
Dancing with the Lion is a coming-of-age story for Alexander and Hephaistion, but also for Kleopatra. Although a secondary character, she has her own journey to maturity across both books. I hope readers enjoy reading about her as much as I enjoyed writing about her. And if/when I continue the series, she’ll remain a significant secondary character, providing an important view on what’s happening back in Greece, as her brother wends his way across Asia.
About Dancing with the Lion: Rise
The story of Alexander before he became “the Great.”
Finished with schooling, Alexandros is appointed regent of Makedon while his father is away on campaign. He thrives with his new authority—this is the role he was born for—yet it creates conflict with his mother and Hephaistion. And when his soldiers, whom he leads with unexpected skill, start to call him “The Little King,” his father is less than delighted.
Tensions escalate between Alexandros and his father, and between Makedon and the city-states of southern Greece. As the drums of war sound, king and crown prince quarrel during their march to meet the Greeks in combat. Among other things, his father wants to know he can produce heirs, and thinks he should take a mistress, an idea Alexandros resists.
After the south is pacified, friction remains between Alexandros and the king. Hostilities explode at festivities for his father’s latest wedding, forcing Alexandros to flee in the middle of the night with his mother and Hephaistion. The rigors of exile strain his relationships, but the path to the throne will be his biggest challenge yet: a face-off for power between the talented young cub and the seasoned old lion.
About the Series
Alexandros is expected to command, not to crave the warmth of friendship with an equal. In a kingdom where his shrewd mother and sister are deemed inferior for their sex, and his love for Hephaistion could be seen as submission to an older boy, Alexandros longs to be a human being when everyone but Hephaistion just wants him to be a king.
About Jeanne Reames
Jeanne Reames has been scribbling fiction since 6th grade, when her “write a sentence with this vocabulary word” turned into paragraphs, then into stories…and her teacher let her get away with it—even encouraged her! But she wears a few other hats, too, including history professor, graduate program chair, and director of the Ancient Mediterranean Studies Program at her university. She’s written academic articles about Alexander and ancient Macedonia, and does her best to interest undergrads in Greek history by teaching them (et al.) to swear in ancient Greek.
On Facebook: facebook.com/jeanne.reames.3
On Instagram: instagram.com/jeannereames
On Twitter: twitter.com/DrReames
To celebrate this release, one lucky person will win a $10 gift card to Riptide. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 26, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!