Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Song Of The Nile by Stephanie Dray ~ Review, Interview & Giveaway

Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Cleopatra's Daughter #2
Copyright: Oct 2011
Pages: 416
Book Source: Courtesy of Author for Blog Tour

Synopsis: Sorceress. Seductress. Schemer. Cleopatra’s daughter has become the emperor’s most unlikely apprentice and the one woman who can destroy his empire…

Having survived her perilous childhood as a royal captive of Rome, Selene pledged her loyalty to Augustus and swore she would become his very own Cleopatra. Now the young queen faces an uncertain destiny in a foreign land.

Forced to marry a man of the emperor’s choosing, Selene will not allow her new husband to rule in her name. She quickly establishes herself as a capable leader in her own right and as a religious icon. Beginning the hard work of building a new nation, she wins the love of her new subjects and makes herself vital to Rome by bringing forth bountiful harvests.

But it’s the magic of Isis flowing through her veins that makes her indispensable to the emperor. Against a backdrop of imperial politics and religious persecution, Cleopatra’s daughter beguiles her way to the very precipice of power. She has never forgotten her birthright, but will the price of her mother’s throne be more than she’s willing to pay?

Everything that I liked in Lily of the Nile was multiplied ten-fold in Song of the Nile making for an 'unputdownable' read. Ms Dray's skill is more refined, polished; the detail - exquisite, the pace - whirlwind, the characters - engaging and the plot - mesmerising.

Song of the Nile is a darker installment which in itself, appealed to me and at the risk of repeating myself I just love the way Stephanie interweaves history, artistic embellishment and mysticism, creating a captivating tapestry of plausible events.

Song of the Nile picks up where Lily of the Nile ends, Selene is married off to Juba and the pair begin their new life as King & Queen of Mauritania. I don't want to give too much away so I'll just say that Selene's journey is fraught with danger. She's a quick study, she fights hard to achieve all that she does as the beloved leader of a now prospering nation. But the fight is not without its costs, their distance from Rome is not outside the reach of Augustus and the power play continues.

Cleopatra Selene is such a fascinating character, she's resilient, passionate, ambitious, compassionate, and intelligent but obsessed with obtaining her rightful place on the throne of Egypt alongside her twin brother Helios. I cringed at some of her choices but was ultimately inspired by Selene's development throughout the book and spellbound by the growth of her power as the daughter of Isis.

I know it sounds cliched but Stephanie Dray really brings the time period and the characters to life; I was completely immersed in the experience. ... the mark of an excellent historical fiction author. 

I wait with bated breath for the final installment!

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

Purchase Song of the Nile @ Amazon or B&N or The Book Depository.

I'm thrilled to welcome Stephanie to my blog and hope you enjoy the interview:

1. I love the interweaving of fact with fiction, historical accuracy blended with insightful, convincing embellishment; for me this is historical fiction at its best! Is there anything you find particularly challenging when writing?
Thanks so much for those kind words! While I'm willing to tinker a bit with the historical timeline to suit a narrative fiction arc, I sweat the small stuff. I try to make sure it's all authentic. That I've gotten everything right. So I'm always horrified when something slips through the cracks.

2. I understand you have a long-time love of all things Egyptian & Roman; how much research went into writing Lily of the Nile and Song of the Nile?
More than five years of research went into Lily of the Nile, but in truth, I've never stopped researching, so we're going on almost a decade here now. I'm always learning something new, finding some tidbit I hadn't considered before, and so on. In fact at the moment, I'm trying to track down a certain statue at the Louvre so that I can see I can better determine whether or not Drusilla of Mauretania was Selene's daughter or her granddaughter.

3. Any 'news' you can disclose on the final installment in the trilogy?
I don't have a title or release date for it yet, but I can tell you a little bit about the themes in it. In Song of the Nile, I was very aware of Selene as a symbolic personification of Persephone (or Kore). If she was a young maiden with the problems of maidens in this middle book, she is now very firmly a mother, with the problems of a mother in the next novel. Like Demeter, she has to worry about her beloved daughter being stolen away to Rome, where the emperor has a claim on her. Selene has finally carved out some happiness for herself, and I intend to show in this last book, how she fights to hold onto it at all costs!

4.What do you think makes your stories different or unique to others in the market?
Up until this year, I'd have pointed out the inclusion of magical realism in my historical fiction as something that decidedly set me apart. But at the moment I'm reading Pilippa Gregory's latest, The Lady of the Rivers, and she's definitely flirting with the supernatural! I suppose I would say that my novels make a decidedly direct appeal to young women to embrace the divine feminine inside themselves and to use Cleopatra Selene as an inspiration.

5. What's next on the table for Stephanie Dray?
Right now I'm knee deep in writing the third and final installment of the Nile trilogy. After that I'm considering another ancient queen. Perhaps Dido of Carthage or Olympias of Macedonia. Or maybe I should leave the ancient world to explore another time period altogether. Do you or your readers have a preference?

Ooh I do Stephanie, please stay in the ancient world! I'd love to read a novel on Dido of Carthage, I remember discussions in ancient history lessons of Dido, her mathematical prowess & her tragic end.

6. What are you reading now?
Philippa Gregory's Lady of the Rivers.

7. If you could be dropped into any book as a character who would you be and why?
Oh I wouldn't go back in time, I'll tell you right now. As much as I love to read about history, I love my modern conveniences. I'm not a good camper. I love luxury. So, perhaps I'd want to be a character in some modern day story, like The Devil Wears Prada or something :P

8. Describe yourself in three words.
Obsessive. Ambitious. Loyal

To win a copy of SONG OF THE NILE please leave a comment answering Stephanie's query in Question 5 & follow Stephanie on one of these profiles: newsletter, Twitter, or Facebook.
Don't forget your email address

 US/Canada only (sorry)

+2 tweet about this giveaway & leave a link
+5 comment on my review of LILY OF THE NILE & let me know.

Giveaway ends 23rd November and the winner will be announced on my blog.


  1. I'd like the ancient world please!
    thanks for this giveaway.


  2. No need to enter me in the giveaway, as you know I've already read and loved it!

    Stephanie is definitely my go to ancient historical fiction author. I can't wait to discover what she has in store for us next. Thanks for the great interview!

  3. It may be cliche, but that in a good way, I do love an author that brings history to life

  4. I need to read this author!! I think you write fantastic reviews!!

  5. @Svea ~ I can't wait for the final installment and I so hope Stephanie stays in the ancient world :)

    @B ~ totally agree with you girl!

    @Staci ~ aww thanks, not hard to write a review when the book is awesome!

  6. So glad to see you loved this book, too. I hope we don't have to wait too long for the next one!

  7. wow I'd like to win a copy of this book. In answer to the question perhaps a historical fiction referring to the time of the salem witch trials in 1692. something to do with real witches like the witch of endor

  8. I forgot my email

  9. I am a huge history buff, and these books sound amazing! I like the ancient world, or maybe a book set in Renaissance Italy!


Thanks for taking the time to leave some comment love, I'm a 'comment back' kinda girl. Don't forget to check the 'Notify me' box