Ramses the Great is back for his next adventure—only this time, his tale will be penned by both Anne Rice and her son Christopher (The Vines).
Titled Ramses the Great: The Passion of Cleopatra, the duo’s debut novel together picks up the story of the Egyptian pharaoh—previously at the center of The Mummy or Ramses the Damned—as he continues his adventures as Dr. Reginald Ramsey in 1914 London. Only unbeknownst to him, his former love and current nemesis Cleopatra is still alive… and also searching for the secret of the Elixir of Life.
But their search brings both immortals across a mysterious queen who is not only both older and more powerful than either of them but also in possession of knowledge of a wider variety of magical potions—including the one that’s responsible for their prolonged lives.
Ramses the Great: The Passion of Cleopatra will be available for purchase Nov. 21. You can see the cover and read an exclusive excerpt below.
Excerpt from Ramses the Great: The Passion of Cleopatra by Anne Rice and Christopher Rice
How can I bear this burden any longer? How can I endure the loneliness anymore? Yet I can not die. Her poisons can not harm me. They keep my elixir safe so that I may dream of still other Queens, both fair and wise, to share the centuries with me.
—Ramses the Damned
“We are being followed, my queen.”
She had not been a queen for centuries, but her two loyal servants still referred to her as such. Both men flanked her now as they approached the great stone city of Jericho on foot.
They were the only members of her royal guard who had refused to take part in an insurrection against her. Now, thousands of years after freeing her from the tomb in which she’d been placed by her traitorous prime minister, these former warriors for a lost kingdom remained her constant companions and protectors.
It was their companionship that mattered most. She knew a loneliness which you could never fully describe to another being, a loneliness she had long accepted but she feared might one day destroy her.
There was very little else from which she needed to be protected. She was immortal, and so were they.
“Continue to walk,” she commanded quietly. “Do not pause.”
Her men obeyed. They were close enough to the city to smell the spices coming from the market just beyond the stone walls.
She towered over most people, but her servants were both taller than she by almost half. To her right walked Enamon, with his proud but bent nose, broken in an ancient battle between tribes who had long since died out. Aktamu was on her left, his round, boyish face out of place atop his lean, muscular body. They hailed from no specific lands; immortality had made the world their home. But today they dressed as traders from Kush, in skirts of leopard skin that shifted over their long legs, with broad golden sashes stretched over their bare, muscular chests. Her swaddling of blue robes allowed her slender arms to move free. The walking stick she used was a show for mortals. She did not tire or require rest as they did.
The road before and behind was clear of wagons in this moment, and so it was no surprise the three of them had drawn notice from someone outside the city gates, and yet to hear Enamon tell it, this attention was sustained, and suspiciously so.
When Bektaten looked back over one shoulder, she saw the spy.
His skin was a few shades lighter than her own, the same color as those who inhabited the city ahead. He stood a good distance up the barren hillside off to their left, swaddled in robes and latticed by the frail shade from an olive tree. He made no attempt to conceal himself. His stance and position were a warning, a threat of some sort. And his eyes, they were as blue as those of the men with whom she’d traveled for centuries.
They were as blue as her own.
They were eyes changed by the elixir she had discovered thousands of years before. A discovery that had caused her kingdom’s fall.
Is it him? Is it Saqnos?
The memories of her prime minister’s betrayal would never fade, no matter how long she walked the earth. The raid he’d staged upon her quarters with members of her own guard. His demands that she hand over the formula she had discovered quite by accident, the one that had allowed a flock of birds to fly above the palace in endless circles without ever tiring.
Saqnos, handsome, thoughtful Saqnos. She had never seen anything like the transformation that had overtaken him all those centuries ago. And it had only worsened when he saw her eyes, once brown, had turned startlingly blue.
That there was a substance on this earth that could abolish death, and that she had consumed it without consulting him, these facts had driven him mad with a thirst for power.
If he had simply asked for it, if he had not betrayed her, would she have handed it over without question?
There was no telling now.
With the spears of her own men raised against her, she had refused.
Despite the great strength afforded by her transformation, the royal guard numbered enough men to overpower her. They dragged her to the rock tomb Saqnos had already prepared. And during this humiliation, the architect of her fall raided her quarters and even her private work chamber for every vial of the elixir he could find. Immediately he distributed them to his soldiers. But he did not find the precious formula itself, for she had taken care to scatter the ingredients among her other tonics and powders.
It was then that his plan went to ruin.
Upon discovering that they had been granted eternal life, upon realizing that they had been made impervious to most fatal wounds, these once-loyal soldiers laid down their arms and abandoned their new leader. What need did they have for a ruler? What need did they have for the shelter of a kingdom when they could explore the world endlessly without fear of cold, starvation, or the serpent’s bite?
Saqnos . . .
But the man who watched them now was not him.