Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Historical Fiction Review: Lily of the Nile

Wow, Stephanie Dray! I settled down onto my couch with your debut release, Lily of the Nile, amongst the upheavel in Egypt that is happening right now... And WOW! You blew me away. I've been amazed, fascinated, humbled, and enthralled by Egyptian history since I was very young.  My grandparents took a trip there, and brought back a carved wooden elephant, which sits in my living room today. It is one of the places on my "Must Visit" list and whenever a documentary comes up on The History Channel, I record it/watch it, whatever I can... As I write this review, I can spy, the book, Cleopatra, by Michael Grant across from me on my bookshelf, a book that I read years ago... So needless, to say, I was a fan of the Ptolemy House and Egyptian culture for years, so a new novel about Cleopatra's daughter was especially exciting to me... And I was not disappointed.

Book Info...

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?

Berkley Trade January 2011
# ISBN-10: 0425238555

My Review...

First of all, the research in this book was more than evident. The author writes in 1st-person point-of-view, which is very difficult to begin with, but Dray does it in such a way that I was captured by Selene (the main character, daughter of Cleopatra).  She had a story to tell, and I was her avid listener. This girl, because she truly is a girl, from age 12-15 or so in the book, but for all that she is a girl, she is a queen. She has an extremely regal bearing, her speech is royal, she is smart, she is intelligent, she is religious, and yet she's at war with herself. I felt for her, I ached for her struggles, I understood her fears, her desires.

This book gave me chills... I had to remember to breath. The level of intensity, the power of magic and Isis, and the dramatic tension, the danger, all kept me on the edge of my seat.  I really enjoyed the way Dray conveyed the setting and the era. She did it so subtly--so as not to interupt the story at hand, yet at the same time it was strong enough that I could "see" everything in my mind, from the statues, the silk robes, the wool togas, the courtyards, the people, etc... The subtle use of language in this book also added to the flavor.

I would highly recommend this book for all historical fiction lovers, and if you weren't a historical fiction fan before, you might be when you read it!

Now for the warning... Ms. Dray left us with an intense cliffhanger!  I am literally haunting her website to find out when the next book will be available.  Here's the info... The next book in the series is Song of the Nile, and it will release in Autumn of this year!!! There is a gorgeous preliminary cover pic at Goodreads if you want to check it out.

Speaking of websites, Ms. Dray has tons of cool articles and fun stuff on there, worth a check: http://www.stephaniedray.com/

Until next time...
Eliza and Michelle

1 comment:

Audra said...

I just got my copy of this book and I can't wait -- Ms Dray's guest posts have been so fascinating -- lots of historical tidbits related to her research -- and I've been so blown away by what I've read, I'm drooling to get to LotN!