The second book in Elisabeth Storrs’ A Tale of Ancient Rome series is The Golden Dice, which follows the young Roman woman Caecilia and her Etruscan husband Vel Mastarna as they try to pick up the pieces of the first book’s cliff-hanger ending.
In The Wedding Shroud, Caecilia was forced to make a choice. She decided to stay with her Etruscan husband Mastarna, who respected her and whose culture allowed women a freedom their female Roman counterparts were forbidden from. However, Mastarna and Caecilia’s love is condemned not only by the Etruscans who live in the city of Vei but by the Romans as well. Rome is itching for a fight, and her generals believe that Caecilia’s decision to stay with her husband makes her a traitor to her country. If the Etruscans lose, she’ll be killed for forsaking the country of her birth.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Friday, January 10th, 2014||No Comments »|
In Dray’s first two novels, readers watch Cleopatra Selene II, the daughter of infamous lovers Cleopatra VII and Marc Antony, grow from terrified captive to young Queen. By the time the third book opens, Selene is an experienced ruler who knows the ins and outs of playing the political game. Readers get a glimpse of the endless machinations of the imperial court of Rome and their client kingdoms, which includes Selene’s adopted land of Mauretania as well.
Despite the endless jockeying for position and prestige in imperial Rome, Selene’s story is about survival. She learns to put aside her bitter hatred and awakens to find love again. From falling in love and learning to trust Juba II, the man she was forced to marry, to re-building a familial bond that Selene once thought was lost forever (despite the emperor Augustus’s efforts to destroy her soul), Selene perseveres in living her life on her own terms, not anyone else’s. These lessons also help her realize that she cannot force her eldest daughter, Cleopatra Isidora, to follow the queenly path Selene herself walked, and she learns to let her daughter go to live her own life.
Readers who adore the character of Alexander Helios will also finally learn what happened once and for all to the young prince of Egypt. It’s a fate that is certain to shock some readers, but Dray ends his story in a way that is entirely satisfying.
In the end, Daughters of the Nile is a well-written ending to a delightful series. From little girl to powerful client Queen, Dray has brought Cleopatra’s daughter to life and allowed the world to get a glimpse of the iron will and stubborn strength of the last Ptolemaic Queen.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Monday, December 30th, 2013||No Comments »|
Thanks to authors such as Philippa Gregory and Michelle Moran, historical fiction is becoming more popular. However, if you want to read some well-written and well-researched novels, there’s no better author to check out than Margaret George! Her crowning jewel is her historical fiction novel The Memoirs of Cleopatra, which gives readers a bird’s eye view into the life of one of the world’s most infamous monarchs.
Her colorful mastery of scenery and attention to detail brings the world of ancient Alexandria to life—if you close your eyes, you’ll swear that you were walking in the crowded marketplace listening to the sights and sounds of the vendors hawking their wears. George also takes her readers through a fascinating tour of turbulent ancient Rome and accurately describes the turmoil that ran riot through the city before the creation of the empire.
George also brings the three main players to life as well: Cleopatra VII, Julius Caesar, and Marcus Antonius, better known to history lovers today as Marc Antony. Gone is the pro-Augustan propaganda that labeled this fiery and intelligent Queen as a whore. Also conspicuously absent is the notion that Cleopatra VII, much like Liz Taylor’s 1963 movie portrayal, is a beauty beyond compare. Out of all the fiction and non-fiction books about this elusive Queen, George manages to give her readers the definitive version of Cleopatra—a strong-willed, intelligent woman who fought like a lioness to save her country and her children. She was a political genius and while reasonably attractive, the real-life woman couldn’t hold a candle to Liz Taylor’s looks. What drew Caesar and Antony to fall in love with her was her wit, her charm, and of course, her prestigious wealth.
Even if historical fiction isn’t usually your cup of tea, no one can deny that George reigns as Queen of that particular genre thanks to her dedicated research and masterful prose.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Wednesday, November 20th, 2013||No Comments »|