Release Date: January 2011
Publisher: Berkley Trade
My Rating: 4,5/5
Source: My personal bookshelf/Own
Cover: Thumbs up!
Heiress of one empire and prisoner of another, it is up to the daughter of Cleopatra to save her brothers and reclaim what is rightfully hers…
To Isis worshippers, Princess Selene and her twin brother Helios embody the divine celestial pair who will bring about a Golden Age. But when Selene’s parents are vanquished by Rome, her auspicious birth becomes a curse. Trapped in an empire that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, the young messianic princess struggles for survival in a Roman court of intrigue. She can’t hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her hands, nor can she stop the emperor from using her powers for his own ends. But faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined to resurrect her mother’s dreams. 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?
Let me preface this review by saying I’ve already read the second book of this series. I read book two (for review) back at P.S. I Love Books and I never actually posted a review because I stopped blogging. But as I am now slowly coming back to the book reviewing world (which I’ve missed so much *hugsssss*) I was super lucky to be contacted to review Stephanie Dray’s third book (due out December 3rd) in the Cleopatra’s Daughter series. So naturally I went out and bought book one and two (my first copy of book two is stored away and I can’t seem to find it, yeah-so not cool!) so I could reacquaint myself with the story of Selene, the daughter of the last pharaoh of Egypt and Mark Antony of Rome.
Lily of the Nile begins shortly after the end of the war between Egypt and Rome. It covers the time from Cleopatra’s death to Selene’s betrothal, which is roughly four years. Although this is the opening to a trilogy, it can be read as a standalone. The ending events of the book were wisely chosen and the conclusion is satisfying. But be forewarned, you may not be able to stop yourself from getting the second or third book. After Cleopatra’s death her last remaining children are taken prisoners to Rome by the Emperor, Augustus. Selene, her twin Helios, and their younger brother are to live with Mark Antony’s Roman wife and Augustus’ sister, Octavia. Quite a mouthful of facts – I know. Reading from Selene’s ten-year-old (and on) point of view was surprisingly plausible and engrossing. Selene, like most of the other children of the book, is far more mature than many modern adults. And while she may not have a lot of world experience just yet she will gain a plethora of experiences, ranging from heartbreakingly horrible to something closely resembling love and happiness.
The only books about Cleopatra, Selene, or this time period that I’ve read are book two in this series, Song of the Nile (which I’m re-reading) and Michelle Moran’s Cleopatra’s Daughter. So I don’t have a big knowledge base of this time period. Facts are facts in history though, no one can change that. But the fiction part of historical fiction is the amazing things authors can create to “fill in the gaps”. Stephanie Dray’s writing is fantastic. It was easy to get lost in the descriptive writing, the cleverly added mysticism and magical elements, and the fully fleshed out characters. I was as drawn to the people surrounding Selene as I was to Selene herself. Details were never rushed and with my limited knowledge I never once felt out of place or confused. I just know I wanted more of this dangerous time period in history. It’s hard to imagine being Selene’s age and having such a burden put upon you. But I felt I got to know Selene through her intimate thoughts, fears, and daily struggles to stay alive in the same household as the murderer of her family and possibly her very future.
I’m excited to continue on with this trilogy and eager to see what Stephanie Dray has in store for us outside of Selene’s life with future books. I know many historical fictions fans, be they newbies or old pros, will enjoy the research-evident and beautifully written world that Stephanie has laid out in Lily of the Nile.