Title: Lily of the Nile
Author: Stephanie Dray
E-book edition, 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley Books
Published: January 1st, 2011
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 know most of the story of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, but I know almost nothing about Mark Antony. And I also know nothing about Cleopatra’s children and what happened after Rome conquers Egypt. So I did my research (wikipedia) before I read this book to give me more insight and know what to expect. Actually, it wasn’t my first time reading a historical fiction sets in Ancient Rome time, I’ve read Pilate’s Wife before. But this novel still took my breath away.
It describes everything in a rich and vivid way. I feel like I was in Alexandria itself, or in the streets of Rome. I can imagine watching Octavian’s Triumph. I can see all the buildings, temples and statues. It describes everything in such a beautiful way. I also like how different Rome and Egypt cultures are, and how they show distaste for each other. They’re completely different, and yet they would be an important part of Selene.
It has amazing character development. Selene has grown so much throughout the book, from being a proud princess who lost everything, a girl cowering begging for her life, to finally being a schemer, a Queen. She realised that she has other ways of returning to Egypt, and she uses it. She embraces herself, and her legacy, and used it for her advantage. She learned how to live the Roman way, but also keeps her Egyptian legacy. She learned to play Octavian’s game, and in the end become his equal. This book also create a hazy line for Octavian and Juba, and other minor characters.
It gives me lots of new information, but it doesn’t feel like a history text book. I always have a soft spot for Ancient Greek, Rome, and Egypt. This book gives me so much more information about the situation at that time. The faiths, the social standings, the government system, and the political schemes. Politic is a dangerous game, and many things in this book are influenced by political motives. Everyone has complicated relationship with each other, because of the political system. The Isiacs also seems to play an important part at that time, because in Pilate’s Wife, Isiacs also cause a stir in Rome society, because Isiacs embrace everyone and doesn’t distinguish anyone.
It was definitely a book worth the read. I love how there are hints of romance here and there, but it was complicated. There are also hints of magic that relates to the faith of the people. Overall, I really enjoyed it and I highly recommend it if you like Ancient Rome!