RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Song of the Nile by Stephanie Dray


Title: Song of the Nile
Author: Stephanie Dray
Publication Info: Berkley 2011
ISBN: 978-0425243046
Genre: Historical: Other

Song of the Nile This review was written by HarperGray. This story was nominated in the Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category.

The summary:     

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?

And here is HarperGray's review:

Unlike Stephanie Dray, I have mastered my Latin, and it was precisely the fact that I had spent so much time around the language of Rome that I became instantly intrigued by this figure within Roman history about whom I knew so little.

When you learn the Aeneid, you rarely learn about Cleopatra Selene, daughter of Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony. Weaving in conjecture with the existing historical facts and adding a liberal dose of the goddess Isis and her magic, Dray creates a jungle of political intrigue, and characters both complex and engaging to people it.

The novel is not for the faint of heart; just after she marries Juba, Selene is taken by the emperor’s wife Livia and raped by the emperor Augustus, whom Livia has drugged. Dray doesn’t necessarily frame the book this way, but one of the themes which I found most engaging in the development of Selene’s character was that of a young woman coming to terms not only with her rapist and her relationship to him, but to her own body, which had become foreign to her.

Her path is in no way linear: Selene must appease her own political ambition as well as her love for her twin brother, Helios, and a growing love for Mauretania, her adopted kingdom. And is that…might she be developing some affection for her husband, too?

Dray does have a tendency to slip into dry historical exposition occasionally; however, as a whole, her book comes highly recommended.

This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo.

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