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Lily of the Nile (Novel of Cleopatra's Daughter Book 1) Kindle Edition
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“A spectacular blend of history and unforgettable fiction.”—San Francisco Book Review
“An active, vibrant take-charge protagonist.”—Publishers Weekly
“Lily of the Nile is graceful history infused with subtle magic and veiled ancient mysteries, at a time of immense flux and transition...Meticulously researched, thoroughly believable, this is a different kind of book, and a true achievement.”—Vera Nazarian, two-time Nebula Award–nominated author of Lords of Rainbow
“With clear prose, careful research, vivid detail, and a dash of magic, Stephanie Dray brings true life to one of Egypt’s most intriguing women in Lily of the Nile.”—Susan Fraser King, bestselling and award-winning author of Queen Hereafter and Lady Macbeth
“Cleopatra Selene has unusual gifts and problems, but her struggle to understand herself and her destiny is universal. The glimpses of the cult of Isis leave one wanting to know more, and the story keeps you turning the pages until the end.”—Diana L. Paxson, author of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword of Avalon
More Praise for the Novels of Cleopatra’s Daughter
“A magnificent novel with a magical twist!”—Fresh Fiction
“Delicious prose, an exotic setting, and a heroine that will impress you with her unfailing courage and determination to reclaim what was once hers...historical women’s fiction at its finest.”—History and Women
“A stirring story of a proud, beautiful, intelligent woman whom a 21st century reader can empathize with.”—RT Book Reviews
“An entertaining foray into an intriguing legend.”—New York Times bestselling author Margaret George
“Strong, elegant prose and a strong, elegant heroine...Song of the Nile is a delight!”—New York Times bestselling author Kate Quinn
About the Author
- ASIN : B004EWFV54
- Publisher : Berkley (January 4, 2011)
- Publication date : January 4, 2011
- Language : English
- File size : 2211 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 387 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #116,571 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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It's actually a little strange that I waited so long with purchasing this book because I adore anything related to ancient Egypt. Most of the book is set in Rome but it is about the daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony who's named Cleopatra Selene, so it did manage to sate my desire to read anything about the time it's set in.
The story starts in Egypt when Cleopatra famously commited suicide by snake bite. After that Selene, her twin brother Helios and younger brother Philadelphus are taken to Rome to be raised in Emperor Octavian's household. For the most part Selene struggled with coming to terms with being in Rome after losing her parents the way she did and taken away from her beloved Egypt, not wanting to lose her connection to her country and the goddess Isis. She eventually makes friends with the other children in the household and there's even a hint of romance forming with her tutor Juba. Hopefully there's a little more of that in the second book.
One thing I definitely hadn't expected and what was maybe my favorite thing was the magical aspect that the story and Selene had because of her connection to Isis. It mixed historical fiction with magic and myth. I loved every single part of it. I also loved how complicated most of the characters and their the relationships were. Especially the relationship between Octavian and Selene. There were hidden depths within everyone.
Overall, Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray was as fantastic as I thought it would be. The writing took me back to the fascinating time and political intrigue of ancient Rome. I would highly recommend it.
Dray definitely gives the story a new angle, though; she positions the life of Cleopatra Selene in relationship to the Cult of Isis. For most of the book, this is fascinating. It gives Selene a wonderful sense of mystery, something that marks her out from her surroundings and from the Roman attitudes she's pressured to adopt, and I like that it's a little bit brutal. Isis's messages to Selene appear as bloody hieroglyphs, literally carved into Selene's skin in moments of emotional distress. Faith isn't easy or painless, and that's definitely part of the message behind what Selene has to learn. The connection also has political implications, as Augustus accuses the Isiacs of plotting sedition against him, intending to make Selene and her less-compliant twin Helios the figureheads of a new rebellion. Selene learns how to plot and how to negotiate, striking deals with the loathed emperor in order to keep her people safe, even if it means personal sacrifice. The magic in the book is tangibly real, in a very religious way, and treated as such, which keeps the book from wandering into fantasy territory, and it definitely adds a new and exciting element to the story.
On the other hand, there are times when it definitely wanders into preachy territory. When Selene starts educating anyone else about the Isiac cult and sacred femininity, it sort of grinds the story to a halt, because the reader is then, too, getting lectured. It feels, at times, a lot like Marion Zimmer Bradley's 'Mists of Avalon', only not quite as deftly handled (and MoA is itself far from flawless in that regard). The explications often stick out awkwardly from the rest of the story, and it hindered my enjoyment.
'Lily of the Nile' is an inventive tale, and Dray fills out the gaps in Selene's story admirably, expanding her life past the scraps that history hands down to us. She also makes some different choices regarding interpreting the historical record. The twins' younger brother, Philadelphus, lives long past when most historians seem to think he probably died. One of Antony's other sons, Iullus, gets a bit of stage time, and Antyllus gets a mention. Julia starts her love affairs early, and Octavia and Agrippa suffer unfulfilled passion for each other (and I have to wonder if HBO's 'Rome' inspired that bit of invention). I'm glad that Dray felt the freedom to play around with some of the historical question marks and ellipses. And yet, there was something that didn't quite grab me as strongly as I'd hoped it would. I think it was that so many characters felt glanced at, rather than fully fleshed out. The imperial household had so many great personalities in it, but quite a few of them get rather short shrift, hardly mentioned at all, or downgraded to pretty two-dimensional characters. This is often a trouble in first person narratives, and it's why I'll take a good strong shifting-third any day of the week -- but that's down to personal preference. Since we only see what Selene sees and know what she knows, there's a lot left missing from the rest of the story.
I did enjoy the read, despite some mixed feelings, and I'll definitely be picking up the sequel, which will actually follow Selene through her adult life as Queen of Mauretania. I've felt cheated out of that before, so it's nice to know we'll be getting the rest of the story from Dray.
I don't usually go for fantasy elements in books, but they were limited in this case, and it truly didn't bother me. There's a heavy emphasis on religion, and while the author uses the word "magic" to define some of the things that happens, I would tend to prefer the use of the word "miracles." She provides some interesting insight into "female-centric" religions, but I'm not sure this book is going to win any adherents to the cause.
I did like the book more as it went along. The voice in the novel seemed to age along with the protagonist, and I would frankly prefer to hear an adult's views more than those of a child to such historic events.
I do think this book is a little too expensive. It's short, almost ending before it begins. It's Berkeley's way of making you pay $33 for a book instead of ten or eleven dollars. I'm not sure I'm going to pick up the rest of the series.
Top reviews from other countries
Taken from their dead mother and homeland, Cleopatra's three children are brought to Rome in chains to face the Emperor.
Instead of killing them, he keeps them in the home of his sister, 'The Royal Orphanage' where they are tutored and wheeled out to show how mericful the Emperor is. But dissent lies amongst the people of Rome who believe that Cleoptra's children will herald a new golden age. Suddenly the children are pulled apart and must all choose which path they wish to take. This is the start of a fascinating story about three children who cling onto their hopes of one day returning home but at all times, surviving on their wits to stay alive.
The novel is written in a mature style, and from the first person perspective of Selene, daughter of Kleopatra VII and Marcus Antonius. 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 I was enjoyed reading 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.
After reading this I definitely felt motivated to pick up the sequel, Song of the Nile (Cleopatra's Daughter) .
Fortan sind Selene, ihr Zwillingsbruder Helios und der kleine Philadelphos Weisen. Sie werden nach Rom gebracht und nach dem Triumphzug Oktavians von seiner Schwester aufgezogen. Doch der Schatten des Eroberers lastet vor allem auf Selene, die versucht mit Diplomatie in der fremden Welt zurecht zu kommen, während ihr Bruder Helios davon träumt, den Thron Ägyptens zurückzuerobern.
Mit der ersten Szene war ich gefangen von der Welt, in der Selene und ihre Brüder aufwachsen ... Alexandria mit seiner Kultur, seinem Wissen, seinem Glanz und der Magie des Isiskultes.
Der Abschied von der Mutter, die sich selbst das Leben nimmt und ihre Kinder in eine fremde Welt und ungewisse Zukunft schickt, ist ergreifend geschildert, und ebenso wie die Kinder, konnte ich die emotionale Armut und Enge ihres neuen Lebens in Rom empfinden.
Das ist mitunter dem lebendigen Schreibstil der Autorin zu verdanken. Sie macht nicht nur die Wirren der Zeit greifbar, sondern auch die Emotionen und die Zerrissenheit der Kinder, die zwischen zwei Kulturen aufwachsen. Besonders facettenreich charakterisiert ist Oktavian, der eine morbide Faszination für Selenes Mutter entwickelt hat und nun in Selene seine "eigene Kleopatra" zu sehen scheint.
Mit einem guten Verständnis für antike Glaubensphilosophie und Gefühlswelten hat die Autorin ein poetische und doch eingängig zu lesende Geschichte geschrieben.
Ich freue mich auf Teil 2 und ein Wiedersehen mit den schnell vertraut gewordenen Figuren.