Series: Cleopatra's Daughter #3
Publication Date: 3rd December 2013
Book Source: Berkley Trade & NetGalley
Synopsis: Based on the true story of Cleopatra’s daughter…
After years of abuse as the emperor’s captive in Rome, Cleopatra Selene has found a safe harbor. No longer the pitiful orphaned daughter of the despised Egyptian Whore, the twenty year old is now the most powerful queen in the empire, ruling over the kingdom of Mauretania—an exotic land of enchanting possibility where she intends to revive her dynasty.
With her husband, King Juba II and the magic of Isis that is her birthright, Selene brings prosperity and peace to a kingdom thirsty for both. But when Augustus Caesar jealously demands that Selene’s children be given over to him to be fostered in Rome, she’s drawn back into the web of imperial plots and intrigues that she vowed to leave behind.
Determined and resourceful, Selene must shield her loved ones from the emperor’s wrath, all while vying with ruthless rivals like King Herod. Can she find a way to overcome the threat to her marriage, her kingdom, her family, and her faith? Or will she be the last of her line?
Over the course of this trilogy Stephanie Dray has laid out the life of Cleopatra Selene from captive of Caesar Augustus to wife of Juba II and Queen of Mauretania, daughter of Isis and mother, for readers to appreciate the heart and soul, strength and frailties of this amazing woman and I've loved every minute. Daughters of the Nile is an epic conclusion, fitting for one such as Cleopatra Selene.
I was moved to tears quite a few times, that's no mean feat for an author, after all it's history, being aware of the how and why sometimes lessens the emotional impact. Not so with Daughters of the Nile, as Ms Dray mentions in her author's note, not a lot has been documented of Cleopatra Selene but with meticulous research of the time period, raw emotion and fictional flare she's brought Selene to life with poignant intimacy .
The Roman Empire political machinations continue, as does Augustus' manipulation of Selene (despite her independent stand) and the playing off of key players as they climb and fall from favour. But the focus is really on Selene's relationships and her growing self awareness.
So much to love ... I loved the exploration of Selene's relationships, it took this installment to new heights, the bond between Selene and her mage, Euphronius, Greek freedwoman Chryssa, Berber attendant, Tala and her relationship with daughter, Isadora, Julia (Augustus' daughter) and Octavia (Augustus' sister) to name just a few.
Selene is a doting and protective mother, I loved that the love and safety of her children and niece came first, above all, even deep-seated ambitions. I loved that Selene finally opened her heart to love with Juba, with so much tragedy and heartache in her life, it was heartwarming to read she found a safe harbour in Juba's arms. I adored the mysticism and dark magic, I guess it sounds like I'm mentioning it in passing but it's deftly woven into the story with both intricacy and a delicate touch.
Recommend: Highly ... Stephanie Dray's writing is richly atmospheric, exquisitely detailed and emotionally wrenching. Big and lush, it's a story to savour.
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