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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Title: Lily of the Nile
Author: Stephanie Dray
ISBN: 978-0-425-23855-4
Publisher: Berkley
Format: Trade Paperback
Rating: 5 Crowns

With her parents both 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’s 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 Roman 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, where her heritage is reviled and her faith is suspect, 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. Faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his vary own, Selene is determined to 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 to win or die?
(from the back of the book)

My review:

I was hooked by the first chapter, and continued to fall in love with the book as I read it through. As a fan of historical fiction as well as Egyptian culture I was eager to read this novel, and I have to say that Stephanie Dray weaves a brilliantly crafted story. Rich is details, plot, and character, I highly recommend that readers give this book a go.

I believe that “Lily of the Nile” is an amazing start of I am sure will be a brilliant trilogy. I simply cannot wait to read what comes next for Selene.

I would like to thank Stephanie Dray for providing this guest post:
Why Lily of the Nile is First Person
Stephanie Dray
I want to thank you for having me here today on the Royal Review. I’m so delighted to be writing a post for dedicated historical fiction readers because you’re the people most likely to understand the benefits and drawbacks of a first person narrative when it comes to re-telling the life of a historical figure.
In truth, when I started writing Lily of the Nile: A Novel of Cleopatra’s Daughter, I didn’t intend for it to be told in first person. I intended a third person narrative that would have allowed us to see through the eyes of Cleopatra and Augustus and all the adults who controlled Selene’s life after she was taken prisoner and marched through the streets of Rome in chains.
But Selene wasn’t having it.
I should start by saying that I’m a very workmanlike writer. I don’t wait upon my muse. I don’t write by the seat of my pants. And most importantly, my characters don’t speak to me. But whenever I sat down to write this book, I heard voices. Well, one voice, in particular. It was Selene’s voice, vibrant, strong and clear, as if she wanted to tell her own story, and I was in no position to argue.
At first, I told myself to just write the book in first person and I could always go back and change it later. However, when I tried to rewrite the opening chapter in third person, I realized I was losing the reader’s intimacy with Selene. There are a few scenes in the book, the strength of which would have been utterly crippled by third person. I didn’t want to distance the reader from the very things that moved me about Selene’s story.
Here was a little girl who lost her entire family--a girl who would have to find a way to survive behind enemy lines, in the household of the very man who drove her parents to commit suicide. This was a little girl who found a way to survive. Though Selene would grow up to be one of the emperor’s favorites, the evidence of her life shows that she never forgot her mother or her religion or her homeland. But to survive and thrive in Rome, she must have spent her entire childhood hiding her true feelings. She must have learned to control her tone of voice, to keep quiet that which she wished to speak, to hold her tongue when she wanted to scream.
Because of that, it seemed only right that Selene should finally be allowed to speak and that’s why I wrote her story in first person

Stephanie Dray is the author of a forthcoming trilogy of historical fiction novels set in the Augustan Age, starting with Lily of the Nile: A Novel of Cleopatra's Daughter. Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has–to the consternation of her devoted husband–collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts.
She is currently sponsoring the Cleopatra Literary Contest for Young Women, the deadline for which is March 1, 2011, but join her newsletter now for updates and a chance to win a free copy of Lily of the Nile and additional prizes.

Visit Angela @ Renee's Reads


Laura Kaye said...

Definitely sounds like you made the right call--sometimes the characters want to speak through you in their voice, and you just gotta go with it! Anxiously awaiting my copy to arrive today or tomorrow! ;) Laura

Stephanie Dray said...

When the muse speaks, don't fight her. I guess that's my best advice ;) Thanks Laura!

Mystica said...

I loved the Moran book on Selene and I think I would love to read more on her.

Stephanie Dray said...

Mystica-- I also loved Michelle Moran's version. Mine is very different, it includes little bits of magical realism, but its respectful to the tradition, and the sequel will follow Selene into her queenship in Mauretania (SONG OF THE NILE will come out Autumn 2011).

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

This sounds fantastic, I'm definitely adding it to my TBR list :)

Arya said...

I've been dying to read this book, and I adored the guest post. Its always interesting to me why and how hf authors writer there books and what experiences they have while doing so. As much as I love it, I haven't found the courage yet to write my own historical novel.

Selene has been one of my favorite historical figures after reading Michelle Moran's Cleopatra's Daughter. What she went through is simply incomprehensible and I'm surprised that I haven't ruined Michelle's book with all the tears I cried over it.


Stephanie Dray said...

Arya, I hear what you're saying about Selene, but I think you should take her as an inspiration. If she could rise above all the things she suffered, we can take a risk and write what's in our hearts.

Write that historical fiction book!

Cat said...

I do hope this book finds its way down here - it sounds wonderful and I look forward to reading it.

Stephanie Dray said...

Cat, I recently sold Russian translation rights, so maybe! Where are you from?