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 »|
In her second novel called Song of the Nile, Cleopatra Selene II is older, more feisty, and is determined to get her hands on her birthright: her mother’s Egypt. In order to return to her home, Selene has turned herself into Emperor Augustus Caesar’s (formally known as Octavian) most unlikely apprentice. However, when she’s forced into a marriage with Juba II, the King of Mauretania, Selene uses her status as a religious icon and the magic of the Egyptian Goddess Isis to turn her new kingdom into a prosperous land. Despite the backdrop of religious persecution from Rome, Selene must wrestle with her ambition and her desire to live free from the Emperor. She may love Egypt and want to re-claim her birthright, but first Selene has to decide if it’s worth it to risk her soul.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Saturday, December 14th, 2013||No Comments »|
The first book in Stephanie Dray’s Nile trilogy introduces readers to Cleopatra Selene II, the only daughter of the famous Queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt. Loosely based on historical records, in the book Selene is taken captive by her parents’ mortal enemy Augustus Caesar and winds up being raised in his house after losing her two brothers to a fever. She then marries Juba II of Mauritania and sets about recreating Alexandria in her new kingdom.
With a deft hand, Dray adds touches of magical realism, including a powerful scene where Cleopatra VII gives each of her three children a talisman that gifts them with magical powers. Philadelphus receives a Collar of Gold that allows him to see visions of the past, present, and future, Helios is given a necklace that gifts him with preternatural strength and the power to control fire, and Selene’s last gift from her mother is a frog amulet that contains Cleopatra’s VII ‘soul’ and the power to control wind.
This blending of magic and history makes Lily of the Nile an utterly fascinating read, and it’s obvious that Dray has spent many hours in the library to make sure that her fictionalized version stays true to actual events. Her characters are compelling as well, from the rebellious Helios to the treacherous Augustus Caesar, there’s not one character who is stiff or one-dimensional. Everyone has shades of grey, and that’s part of what makes this book such an enjoyable read.
For those who love both fantasy novels and historical fiction, Stephanie Dray’s Lily of the Nile is the perfect mix of both and would make a welcome addition to any bookshelf.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Monday, November 11th, 2013||No Comments »|