January 4, 2011
**From the Press Release**
Stephanie Dray brings us the first novel in her forthcoming trilogy about Cleopatra's daughter, Cleopatra Selene, the Queen of Mauretania. In Lily of the Nile Stephanie uses the stories of women through history to create a modern heroine with the transformative power of magic realism.
With her parents dead, the daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony is left at the mercy of her Roman captors. Heir to one empire and prisoner of another, it falls to Princess Selene to save her brothers and reclaim what is rightfully hers…
In the aftermath of Alexandria’s tragic fall, Princess Selene is taken from Egypt, the only home she’s ever known. Along with her two surviving brothers, she’s put on display as a war trophy in Rome. Selene’s captors mock her royalty and drag her through the streets in chains, but on the brink of death, the children are spared as a favor to the emperor’s sister, who takes them to live as hostages in the so-called lamentable embassy of royal orphans…
Now trapped in a Roman court of intrigue that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, Selene can’t hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her flesh. Nor can she stop the emperor from using her for his own political ends. But faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined honor her mother’s lost legacy. The magic of Egypt and Isis remain within her. But can she succeed where her mother failed? And what will it cost her in a political game where the only rule is win or die?
Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray
Berkley Trade January 2011 (Trade Paperback, 430 pages)
# ISBN-10: 0425238555
# ISBN-13: 978-0425238554
I first fell in love with Cleopatra through Elizabeth Taylor...while I realize now the movie didn't portray the actual events very well I still enjoy the idea of a woman who could stand toe to toe with a Roman Emperor using her charm, wit, and guile (and prolly some other things) to get what she wanted.
I must admit while I do enjoy Egyptian lore and history I'm not particularly up to snuff when it came to the FULL history of Cleopatra...including that she had children by Mark Antony! So I was very intrigued and excited when I was offered an advanced reading copy of "Lily of the Nile" by Stephanie Dray.
Before I even received the book I did some light research to discover a little more about Cleopatra's children. Caesarion who was fathered by Julius Caesar and then Cleopatra and Antony's children, twins - Cleopatra Selene, and Alexander Helios and the younger son, Ptolemy Philadelphus. I don't want to go any further into what history I found on the children because you might want to research on your own, or let the book unfold for itself. However I do want to tell you how much I enjoyed "Lily of the Nile"!
From the very first chapter Stephanie Dray endears you to her characters especially Cleopatra's young daughter Cleopatra Selene. There are many times in the book where I just want to gather up Cleopatra's children to hug and protect them so powerful is Dray's writing as to draw out so much compassion from the reader. Selene and her siblings endure much after their mother's death at the hands of the Romans, especially Octavian. Throughout it all Selene, Helios, and Philadelphus all deal with their situation differently and they all struggle with their reality and the choices they make versus what they believe would be expected of them as children of Cleopatra and future rulers of Egypt. Those conflicts are very universal as I believe we all struggle with the choices we make versus what we feel might otherwise be expected of us from others.
Lily of the Nile is a wonderful work of historical fiction with touches of fantasy and magic! I won't spoil it, but the parts with magic are intriguing and kept me waiting with baited breath to see when they would happen again!
If there is any complaint to be found with this book it's I wish it were longer! I completely understand the book is about Cleopatra's children and what happens to them in the wake of her death, but Dray introduces such rich characters like Julia, Octavian's daughter and only true heir, and Octavia, Octavian's sister and Mark Antony's widowed Roman wife, it kinda made me wish the book were longer just so I could get more of them!
I really look forward to the other two books of the trilogy and Selene's further adventures maneuvering through the perils of being not only Cleopatra's daughter, but also now being a woman of Rome and all that it entails! Perhaps if we're lucky someone might option the trilogy for a movie or TV deal! I do love the Tudor Dynasty, but I think it's far past time for Ptolemaic Egypt to get a chance to shine!
Oh and a few minor warnings that I'd like to mention, though given the subject matter and the historical time frame it shouldn't be too surprising. There is a light touching upon incestuous relationships (nothing graphic), animal sacrifices, and gladiatorial sport (which includes both human and animal)....again nothing too surprising given the book involves Egyptian Royalty and Romans!
I was sent the book "Lily of the Nile" free to review, however just because I got a free book did in no way shape my judgement of said book......that is all ;)