This account of Cleopatra s daughter was laughable I have had a fascination with Cleopatra, Egypt and Rome since I was a child so I have read too many things to count about these topics But while not all books on the topic are well written or entertaining, Lily of the Nile was probably the worst I ve read to date I did not realize how deeply entwined magic would be in this telling and had I known I would have wisely avoided the tale Dray mixes minimal historical fact with major fantasy elements that led to much eye rolling and the aforementioned laughability I love fantasy elements but they do not belong in a HF novel about someone such as Cleopatra or her daughter.Included in my problem about the magical element is the choice to call individuals magicians and such things as this Not including Egyptian terms when English simply is not exact enough to replace it was a poor choice Calling the tutor a magician and other such instances was very distracting from the story The fantasy elements included, alluding to Cleopatra performing magical acts what crap and then Selene seeing hieroglyphics appearing on her arms sending her messages Really I would never be able to roll my eyes enough on this one laughable.The story, regardless of the fantasy element which was much too potent, did not include much actual historical fact and the entire story left you feeling like these individuals never existed On top of that, Selene was not a supportable main character and I did not care for her one iota The rest of the characters were flat and lifeless.Allusions to Christianity that continued to be made throughout Lily of the Nile I found very disturbing and unnecessary The author s note included in the book made it clear to me why such images were invoked and made me all the annoyed The author alludes to religious awakenings and how Selene supposedly helped to pave the way for spirituality religion as it is today and how without her personal spirituality may never have taken hold Wow Just WOW There is so little known about Cleopatra Selene that to blame religion as it is seen performed today on her is ridiculous Christianity may have spread during her lifetime but to connect her to it like this is fantasy Dray stated in the Author s Note If we accept Matthew s Massacre of the Innocents as valid gospel, we must acknowledge that Selene s life intersected with important people involved in Christianity Well how about the fact that this story is thought to be FALSE So no, we as in I do not accept such things Then Dray states that Christianity shares many of the same symbols and ideals of Isis worship that is not a coincidence, Christians chose to use these symbols and ideals hundreds upon hundreds of years after Isis worship came into the world, as they did with the pagan religions Note to self read Author s Notes before buying book.Michelle Moran s Cleopatra s Daughter is a well written historically based account with believable characters that you could actually come to care about I would definitely recommend that book to anyone interested in Cleopatra Selene s story. While Lily of the Nile is well written, with generally well developed characters and a clear storyline, I preferred Moran s Cleopatra s daughter I just didn t like Dray s Selene very much and unless I stumble over the sequel and it looks very interesting, I probably won t read the next book in Dray s series.While Dray and Moran both wrote a novel focusing on Cleopatra Selene they told very different stories So don t hesitate to read both if you re interested in the time period Dray and Moran s stories have about three events in common, presumably because those events are historically accurate, but the stories present very different interpretations and repercussions of the events.While Dray s story isn t classified as YA, it fits the criteria subject, character ages, etc and I wouldn t hesitate to suggest Lily of the Nile to a teen or pre teen interested in historical fiction However, some readers may be uncomfortable with the Messianic imagery used for Helios and especially Selene Specifically, Selene is hailed by magi and presented with gifts, King Herod is troubled and wants them dead and other very specific people situations that can be found in the story of Christ. 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 I missed an opportunity to blurb this book thanks to some mixups with the US Postal Service, but was delighted to buy and review it later Lily of the Nile is the second book I have recently read about Cleopatra s daughter Selene reading it so close on the heels of Michelle Moran s Cleopatra s Daughter, I was initially dubious about similarity of plot Happily, Stephanie Dray presents the same story in new and fresh ways Her Selene is a poised and intelligent heroine, navigating the snake pit of her Roman captivity with great caution but sometimes she has to throw caution to the winds, especially when her goddess Isis begins speaking to and through her Isis s favor causes problems for Selene, particularly with Emperor Augustus who was fascinated and repelled by Cleopatra, and now transfers those complicated emotions to Cleopatra s daughter Selene s growing pains are real and poignant and it is lovely to see that romance is not her primary goal, as is often the case with young fictional heroines Selene is far too busy balancing her devotion to Isis, her love of her family, her ambition to re take her kingdom, her will to survive, and her anger at her dead mother to devote much time to romantic dreams in fact, her most interesting relationship is with Emperor Augustus who veers intriguingly between enemy, friend, suitor, and paternal figure Their climactic cat and mouse battle of repulsion, attraction, ambition, and violence in the book s final chapter had me glued to the page I cannot wait for the next installment of Selene s adventures as she tackles the challenges of becoming a wife, a priestess, and a queen all at the same time. This book was always going to attract comparison with Michelle Moran s Cleopatra s Daughter, featuring the same characters, the children of Kleopatra VII and Marcus Antonius, during the same period of their lives, the years after they were brought to Rome to be raised by Octavia with their half siblings Author Stephanie Dray even mentions Moran s novel in the acknowledgements of this book, so comparison between the two novels was always going to be inevitable Fortunately, Stephanie Dray s Lily of the Nile is miles better than Michelle Moran s Cleopatra s Daughter Lily of the Nile is historical fantasy than its rival, but for me this wasn t an issue I will say that I would have enjoyed it without the magic Dray writes well, well enough that she can hold the story together from the history alone and I would ve been kept as involved and interested, even so than this magical version But Lily of the Nile is totally upfront about being a historical fantasy It reveals this on the back cover blurb It s historical fantasies masquerading as straight historical fiction and are poorly written to boot that get on my wick Philippa Gregory comes to mind chokengtitiktitikchokeng 11 The Nile s green waves lapped at my consciousness, drawing me into the marshy reeds of a waking dream where life teemed I saw the frog and the minnows, the life giving silt settling onto the fields beyond, and everywhere I turned in the water, the birds flocked and water lilies blossomed With my fingers, I traced lazy circles into the dream river bringing fish leaping to the surface I passed dried brown foliage as I made my way to the shore, and it sprouted green with life again I gazed upon the washed up carcass of a snake and it arose, coiled and shimmering. Dray s descriptions are fluid, evocative, they drew me into the environment and the setting, and they engage my senses and my imagination The writing feels careful and considered, with a lot of time and thought put into it, intelligent and mature, with only the occasional hint of clunkinesschokengtitiktitikchokeng 271It s true It s referred to even in the Hebrew holy book It s the tree and the fruit and the snake, symbols of Isis that their creation story warns against as they were no friends to the Isiacs even before King Herod came to powerThis sentence is one of the rare few It feels a little bit too much like I read this academic publication that theorised X chokengtitiktitikchokeng 229 The emperor snorted I dare say Agrippa would do most anything for me, but there he might draw the line You know how he feels about that religionYou know, I ve been reading George R R Martin s A Song of Ice and Fire series recently Brilliant books, I love them But if there s one thing about those novels that makes me wince, it s most anything or wrote , instead of almost anything and wrote to As soon as I read those phrases it jars me right out of this wonderful fantasy world and drops me unceremoniously into the modern day USA In a historical set novel, the effect is even jarring for me This is the tiniest of tiny criticisms, and I haven t docked Lily of the Nile any points for this, but that doesn t make it any less jarringchokengtitiktitikchokeng 337 I knew that a man was not only himself but also who he wished to be. Because the book is written in a mature style, and because the voice of Lily of the Nile is Selene the novel is written in first person point of view from Selene s perspective , it was much easier for me to smoothly relax into and enjoy this book in comparison to Moran s Cleopatra s Daughter Selene here is passionate, determined, intelligent I like her character And yet, whilst I connected with this mature character, Selene in this book goes from the age of about 10 11 to 14 15 If you stop and think about it it s rather implausible that a girl of that age would be so mature But frankly I was enjoying this intelligent, mature voice so much that this didn t bother me greatly.The magical elements in the story are less important than how Selene utilises them It s her intelligence and agency that drive the plot forwards The rounded, grey characters are a joy to read about in contrast to goodies and baddies , and the only characters who feel a little stereotyped and like they get a hard deal are Octavian and Livia What is it with authors ragging on Octavian and Livia recently Moran s novel does this too.After this I definitely felt motivated to read the sequel, Song of the Nile, and happy to have found a story about Kleopatra Selene II that I enjoyed.7 out of 10 Selene carried the fig basket with the asp that killed her mother, sending Queen Cleopatra into the afterlife And leaving Selene and her brothers alone.To face the burdens of a lost Egypt.The hopes of the Isiac religion.And the ultimate enemy.Octavian Leader of Rome Conqueror of Selene s homeland Architect of her parents fall.And the man who expects Antony and Cleopatra s children to call him.Father.A fascinating look into the life of an Egyptian princess raised by the family of the man who conquered both her country and her parents.But failed to conquer her.I enjoyed the historical setting and events, especially the innate paradox of Selene s situation, her ability to see life from than one angle, and her twin brother s inclination toward rebellion Looking forward to book two Historical, but hard to tell where history stopped and creative license crept in Left lots of unanswered questions, ended abruptly and quite unsatisfactorily But it was a good read. After the defeat and death of Cleopatra, her three youngest children were taken to Rome and paraded as spoils of war, then adopted into the household of the victorious emperor, Octavian Of the three, the one who went on to make a mark on history was Cleopatra s daughter, Cleopatra Selene In Lily of the Nile, Stephanie Dray tells the story of Selene s coming of age in Rome, with a magical element added.Selene is a fully rounded character We feel for her as she experiences her sudden fall from princess to pawn, and struggles to acclimate to her new life She s constantly striving to keep herself and her brothers alive in an environment where many would happily see them all dead We sympathize with her as she goes through a dark night of the soul and loses her faith, and we cheer her as she matches wits with Octavian At the same time, she has flaws She is sometimes snobbish, as might be expected in a girl raised as a queen and demigoddess She has a temper, which is all too often taken out on Octavian s sister Octavia, who is actually one of the kinder people she meets in Rome It makes total sense in terms of the power dynamic and Lily of the Nile is in part an exploration of power Octavia is one of the few people she can lash out at without risking her life Nor is Selene a modern girl dropped into an ancient setting she has a slave and doesn t always treat her well and she s a little in love with her twin brother, which fits with her upbringing as a member of the Egyptian royal family but may shock some readers.Other characters are complex too First and foremost, there s Octavian He s a huge control freak, but he s vulnerable too, haunted by the kind of man he wishes he could be He and Selene have competing schemes and it s always interesting to wonder who will get what they want and who will think they ve gotten what they want, while actually being outmaneuvered by the other Octavia is another rich character, her adoption of Mark Antony s Egyptian children motivated by a private guilt Livia is kind of a classic evil stepmother, but she s fun to hate Octavian s daughter Julia, who becomes Selene s friend, has an ebullient spirit that is slowly being crushed Juba, Selene s young tutor, is another child of foreign royalty he has assimilated fully into the Roman worldview and gives Selene one model for how she might respond to the pressures upon her Her brother, Helios, provides the other Where Selene schemes, Helios rebels, which creates tension between the twins He thinks she s a coward She thinks he s going to get them all killed, but secretly wonders whether he might have the right of it.We follow Selene as she navigates the intrigue within the Emperor s household and walks a narrow line between saving her life and losing her soul Adding to her difficulties are Rome s strict gender roles, far rigid than what she was used to in Alexandria a woman who seeks power risks being labeled a whore and a witch Especially if she s also a worshipper of Isis, which Selene is, and that brings me to the magic Selene has magical abilities that come from her goddess These abilities are outside her control at first, then absent altogether when she loses her faith, and later begin to return as a part of her coming into her own.Stephanie Dray completely immersed me in Alexandria and in Rome, and had me glued to every step of Selene s sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes inspiring journey even when the character made mistakes or was mean I read Lily of the Nile in one day, unable to put it down I recommend it to any reader who likes some magic with their historical fiction You ll like this if you like Jo Graham, for example I will be snapping up book two, Song of the Nile, as soon as I can.A note on reader age There s something of a YA feel to Lily of the Nile, due to Selene s youth and the coming of age elements of the plot However, it is listed as an adult novel and from what I ve read about Song of the Nile, there is adult content in that second book I would give Lily of the Nile itself to a teenager, but it s technically adult fiction with a young protagonist rather than YA fiction per se.Originally written for FantasyLiterature.com I can t imagine how hard it would be to create a fictional novel using real historical characters and events Stephanie Dray did it and was able to create a great book which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.The book begins with Cleopatra losing Alexandria Cleopatra s children, Prince Alexander and Princess Selene twins and their younger brother, Ptolomy, are then taken by the Roman army lead by Octavian back to Rome.Selene is the star of the book While she comes across as a pampered, spoiled princess in the beginning, later we learn that Selene is kind, thoughtful, and extremely intelligent Selene, throughout the story, is always thinking Every move she made was to counter act or to anticipate Octovian s moves She played Octovian s game so well, Octovian and the other characters in the story, quickly realized that Selene was not a young girl and later young woman to mess with.Dray added the element of magic to the story While initially, I was hesitant of the added element, I began to like this twist in the story While Selene wanted to be powerful and respected, she was hesitant to use the new power she had in her magic She wanted to be respected for her strength of character and for her quick mind and not looked down upon for the fact she was a woman during this time, women s rights in Rome were minimal to none Her magic was used as a last resort and even afterwards, you can sense her hesitancy in using magic Very small spoiler here My only complaint in the book was Alexander I would not have minded Dray portraying Alexander s POV when he escaped Rome I was curious to what happened and our only information was the news that Selene received.Overall, an excellent book and I really enjoyed reading it I received a full pre release copy of the book from the author and was spellbound Fans of HBO s Rome or Herbert s Dune will largely be engrossed by the political dealings between Augustus and Selene I found the troubles and lengths which Selene had to execute for, not only her survival, but her brothers as well to be far defining than the softer choices which Michelle Moran s version took What s even satisfying is that readers could be pleased by both books and not feel either lacked a decent story Each is unique in its own despite having the same characters and using the same historical points Stephanie Dray s approach also draws the reader in with fantasy theme, particularly how Isis has impacted Cleopatra s choices as well as Selene s By the ending of Lily of the Nile, I wanted Sorceress of the Nile the sequel to be released I m excited to see what Selene does next to establish her power and what her brother Helios does to Rome.
STEPHANIE DRAY is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal USA Today bestselling author of historical women s fiction Her award winning work has been translated into eight languages and tops lists for the most anticipated reads of the year She lives near the nation s capital with her husband, cats, and history books.
- 368 pages
- Lily of the Nile
- Stephanie Dray
- 04 August 2019 Stephanie Dray