Release Date: October 2011
Publisher: Berkley Trade
My Rating: 4.5/5
Source: My personal bookshelf/Own
Cover: Thumbs up! It goes well with the first book and the cover model is aging along with Selene, very well done! The purple is not only lovely on the cover but symbolic as well.
Sorceress. Seductress. Schemer. Cleopatra’s daughter is the one woman with the power to destroy an 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.
The magic of Isis flowing through her veins is what 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?
Song of the Nile opens to Cleopatra Selene marrying her childhood tutor, Juba II of Numidia. The couple is sent off to Mauretania where they are to rule in favor of Rome and Augustus. Still young, at fourteen years old, Selene has more trials and tribulations that she must overcome and endure even with an ocean dividing her and Augustus. She soon comes to truly understand how limited her freedom is how much of an impact Augustus still has on her life. This is a much darker tale that includes sexual cruelty, incestuous relationships, and the violence of ancient Rome. I know it may not be something all readers will like but I for one appreciated that Stephanie Dray took the risk to portray Selene’s story the way she wanted. I’m glad she didn’t shy away from fear of offending. Not only do I love her writing style and her story-telling capabilities but now I respect her for taking risks.
One of my favorite aspects of these books is the characters. From Selene to Augustus, Helios to Juba, Livia to Octavia, I’ve come to know their personalities (through Stephanie’s eyes) and I’ve come to care about them. Each character is brilliantly layered where I feel torn between loyalties and repeatedly question what I would do in Selene’s situation, other than freak out…daily! And while Selene is understandably the driving force in her own story, the people that surround her are equally a key element to the plot and the overall depiction of Selene’s life. The political portion is fascinating and really makes me want to do further research on this time period. The magical elements of Selene and her growing relationship with her goddess, Isis, continue to make the story stand out.
You know, having read this book over two years ago I was surprised by how much of Selene’s story stuck in my head. I have a horrible memory so I was delighted to read passages and say to myself “Ooooh, I remember this!” and I was equally delighted reading different passages and saying to myself “Wow, how did I forget this!” I really should re-read more because it’s more fun than I thought it’d be. I keep thinking there are too many books out there to re-read the ones I’ve already read (which of course is true), but it’s crazy what one can find the second time around. The ending was explosive and I have to say I can’t recall ever reading it before. I must not have finished the book because I really, honestly, truly believe I would have remembered that happening…I know I’m super ridiculously vague but that’s a spoiler-free review for you =) You’re welcome!
I like how Song of the Nile included just enough important information from Selene’s past, and the previous book, so it could be read as a standalone or out of order. But I truly enjoyed this better with having the first book under my reading belt. So my recommendation is to pick up Lily of the Nile first. But if you must be a rebel you can feel at peace knowing you’re still able to enjoy the story. I’m currently reading, and definitely enjoying, the last piece of Stephanie Dray’s telling of Cleopatra Selene which is due out this Tuesday, the 3rd. I can’t wait to finish so I can share my thoughts with you all. If you haven’t started these books yet I hope my thoughts will nudge you into considering them =)