Friday, November 04, 2011

Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray

Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Cleopatra's Daughter #1
Copyright: Jan 2011
Pages: 341
Book Source: Own Purchase

Synopsis: 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?
I must confess I was a little apprehensive about picking up Lily of the Nile as one of my favourite reads about Selene is Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran. I was pleasantly surprised; Stephanie Dray does a wonderful job of weaving history, artistic embellishment and mysticism into a cohesive, plausible and enjoyable piece of historical fiction.
Selene's motivation to protect her twin brother Helios and younger brother Philadelphus govern her dealings with Emperor Octavian. As a mere child, albeit an intelligent one and a political pawn, Selene quickly learns the art of manipulation and gameplay, and attempts to use Augustus's obsession with Cleopatra to her own end.
I really enjoyed the political machinations, the intrigue and betrayals, the portrayal of Julia, Agrippa, Octavia, Juba & the loathesome Livia. I also loved the vivid descriptions of festivals, dress, culture, jewellery and hairstyles.

Ms Dray's inclusion of magic in the novel was something that I loved, much as I did Philippa Gregory's use of it in The White Queen & The Red Queen. It's not gratuitous, many ancient cultures have a deep seated belief in magic and Gods, the Romans being one of them. The hieroglyphic messages appearing on Selene's arms from the Goddess Isis, the drawing of heka all seemed in keeping with Isiac beliefs.
I've already started Song of the Nile; not only am I keen to see where Stephanie Dray takes Queen Cleopatra Selene, I'm finding it totally enthralling.

Want to know more about Stephanie Dray and her work? ~ Check out her website.


  1. I absolutely loved this novel... it was one of those rare ones that I wished would never end! I am reading Song of the Nile now and finding it just as mesmerizing.

  2. Svea, I'm loving Song of the Nile, halfway through and I totally agree with you, it's riveting :)

  3. I'm so glad to read this review and to find out that it's great. I won this book and I can't wait to start reading it. :)

  4. I can't wait to see what you think of book 2 :) I do wonder what will happen to her

  5. Ok sold! I also love Michelle Morans stuff and stumbled on this author through a "if you love this author you might like" link. So I have been reading about it but was unsure if I should to take the plunge. Now I definately will. Thanks for the review and giving me a better picture of what to expect.

  6. Your awesome review has me wanting to read my copy of Moran's book and then venture into these!!

  7. Glad you enjoyed this. The cover and plot totally sucks me in, so glad to see it's a winner. Thanks for the review.


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