Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A thrilling adventure story set in ancient Egypt, following the quest of a young man to rescue the captivating Queen Cleopatra.


"Cleopatra" is a historical adventure novel written by H. Rider Haggard, first published in 1889. Set in ancient Egypt during the reign of the famous Queen Cleopatra, the book takes readers on a thrilling journey filled with political intrigue, romance, and epic battles. Haggard, known for his vivid storytelling and ability to transport readers to different eras, brings the fascinating world of ancient Egypt to life in this captivating tale.

Brief Synopsis

The story is set in the 1st century BC, during a time when Egypt is under Roman rule. The protagonist, Harmachis, is a descendant of the last native Pharaohs and seeks to restore the glory of Egypt by overthrowing the Roman oppressors. He is guided by the goddess Isis, who appears to him in dreams and visions.

Harmachis travels to Alexandria, where he meets Cleopatra, the beautiful and ambitious Queen of Egypt. Cleopatra, intrigued by Harmachis and his desire to free Egypt, becomes an ally in his mission. Together, they navigate the treacherous world of politics, facing opposition from powerful Roman officials and Egyptian nobles who are loyal to their Roman overlords.

As the story unfolds, Harmachis and Cleopatra become entangled in a passionate love affair. Their relationship is tested as they must confront betrayal, jealousy, and the ever-present threat of assassination. Meanwhile, the Roman general, Octavian, sets his sights on Egypt, seeking to bring it fully under Roman control.

Main Characters

HarmachisThe protagonist, a descendant of the native Pharaohs and a fervent patriot.
CleopatraThe famous Queen of Egypt, ambitious and cunning.
OctavianThe Roman general determined to conquer Egypt.
IsisThe goddess who guides Harmachis on his mission.
AmenemhatHarmachis's loyal servant, skilled in combat.

Summary of Story Points over Chapters

Chapter 1: The Dawn

Harmachis, a young Egyptian priest, receives a prophetic vision from the goddess Isis, urging him to free Egypt from Roman rule.

Chapter 2: The Flight

Harmachis leaves his home and travels to Alexandria, where he encounters Cleopatra for the first time. They form an uneasy alliance.

Chapter 3: The Sailing of Cleopatra

Cleopatra sets sail with Harmachis and her fleet to confront the Roman forces, but they face setbacks along the way.

Chapter 4: The Witch

Harmachis seeks the help of an Egyptian witch to gain insight into the future and discover a way to defeat the Romans.

Chapter 5: The Night of the Double Struggle

Harmachis and Cleopatra face an assassination attempt, leading to a night of intense fighting and danger.

Chapter 6: The Death of Harmachis

Harmachis is captured by Octavian's forces and sentenced to death, but he manages to escape with the help of his loyal servant, Amenemhat.

Chapter 7: The Judgment of Cleopatra

Cleopatra is faced with a difficult decision as Octavian demands her surrender. She must choose between her love for Harmachis and the survival of Egypt.

Chapter 8: The Last Meeting

Harmachis and Cleopatra have a final meeting before the climactic battle, where they express their love for each other and prepare for the ultimate sacrifice.

Chapter 9: The Battle of Alexandria

The Battle of Alexandria ensues, with Harmachis leading the Egyptian forces against Octavian's army. The outcome of the battle will determine the fate of Egypt.

Main Events

  • Harmachis receives a vision from the goddess Isis, setting him on a mission to free Egypt.
  • Harmachis meets Cleopatra and forms an alliance to fight against the Roman forces.
  • Harmachis and Cleopatra face numerous challenges, including assassination attempts and political intrigue.
  • Harmachis is captured by Octavian's forces but manages to escape with the help of his loyal servant.
  • Cleopatra must decide between surrendering to Octavian or fighting to the death.
  • The Battle of Alexandria takes place, with the fate of Egypt hanging in the balance.

Themes and Insights

  1. Power and Ambition: The novel explores the relentless pursuit of power and ambition, as seen through the characters of Cleopatra and Octavian. Their thirst for control drives their actions and shapes the fate of nations.
  2. Love and Sacrifice: The love between Harmachis and Cleopatra becomes a driving force in the story. They are willing to sacrifice everything for their love and the cause they believe in.
  3. Loyalty and Betrayal: The characters' loyalty is tested repeatedly, with betrayals and shifting alliances. This highlights the precarious nature of trust in a world filled with political intrigue.
  4. Nationalism and Identity: Harmachis's desire to restore Egypt's glory reflects the theme of nationalism and the struggle for cultural identity. The novel explores the tension between preserving one's heritage and adapting to changing times.

Reader's Takeaway

"Cleopatra" offers readers a thrilling journey through ancient Egypt, filled with romance, political intrigue, and epic battles. Haggard's vivid descriptions bring the historical setting to life, and the complex characters and their struggles make for a compelling read. The themes of power, love, and sacrifice resonate with readers, reminding us of the timeless human desires and dilemmas that transcend time and place.


H. Rider Haggard's "Cleopatra" is a captivating historical adventure novel set in ancient Egypt. The story follows the protagonist, Harmachis, and his quest to free Egypt from Roman rule with the help of Cleopatra. Filled with political intrigue, romance, and epic battles, the novel explores themes of power, love, loyalty, and identity. Through its engaging storytelling and vivid descriptions, "Cleopatra" immerses readers in the fascinating world of ancient Egypt and leaves a lasting impression.

Cleopatra FAQ

  1. Who is the author of Cleopatra?

    The author of Cleopatra is H. Rider Haggard.

  2. What is the genre of Cleopatra?

    Cleopatra is a historical fiction novel.

  3. When was Cleopatra first published?

    Cleopatra was first published in 1889.

  4. What is the setting of Cleopatra?

    Cleopatra is set in ancient Egypt during the reign of Cleopatra VII.

  5. What is the main plot of Cleopatra?

    Cleopatra follows the story of the Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra VII, and her love affair with the Roman general, Julius Caesar.

  6. Is Cleopatra based on historical events?

    Yes, Cleopatra is based on historical events and characters, although it is a work of fiction.

  7. Is Cleopatra a standalone novel or part of a series?

    Cleopatra is a standalone novel and not part of a series.

  8. What is the writing style of Cleopatra?

    Cleopatra is written in a descriptive and engaging style, typical of H. Rider Haggard's works.

  9. Are there any film adaptations of Cleopatra?

    Yes, Cleopatra has been adapted into films multiple times, with the most famous adaptation being the 1963 film starring Elizabeth Taylor.

  10. Where can I purchase a copy of Cleopatra?

    You can purchase a copy of Cleopatra from online bookstores such as Amazon, or from your local bookstore.