" I may crumble away to dust, but my spirit remains. I journey home now, and though my lands fall fallow and my palaces turn to sand, Egypt lives a million years in me. I do not fear, for death is not the end of all things. I shall again warm myself by a fire, loved by a man, children on my knee. In the Nile of eternity, I shall live forever."
With these words all the safety, knowledge and future Cleopatra Selene has ever known is ripped from her. But not before her mother blesses her children with her gifts. To Philadelphus, Cleopatra gifts her sight. For her Isis blessed son, Alexander, her might. To to her Isis loving Selene, Cleopatra gifts the resurrection.
Taken as spoils of war, the three children are sent to Rome, and marched through the streets of Rome. To Selene's horror,she learns that mercy and civility are not Roman traits, as she watches her mothers allies and treasure being killed and paraded. When the children are presented to their new master, Octavian, Alexander resists, but Selene begs for their lives. To her surprise, they are given to their father's Roman Wife, Octavia. At first, this is an especially bitter pill to swallow for the twins, especially when the imperial children and their own step siblings refuse to accept them. This is also a bitter time for the Isaic believers, who believe that the twins are The Two Saviors, who will herald in a golden age. This makes Octavian, and all those who surround them wary of the twins. Situations tense even further when Selene scares Octavian's general, Agrippa, with bloody hieroglyphics scrawled across her arms. Warned against magic, Selene must hide her gift and plot Isis' resurrection.Alexander, ever their mother's warrior, fights battles for the three children, while Selene, her mother's resurrection learns to play the Roman mind games by pleasing Octavian. When another message from Isis appears on Selene's arm at the Roman games, Selene is taken home and carefully watched. Selene decides to forget Isis, and her Egyptian Royalty and become a good Roman to try to save her life and the life of her brothers. This sparks her sun brother's anger, as he lives the Ptolemy motto "Win or die."Selene finds her mother's wizard Euphronius and refuses to be rescued by him. Selene changes her heart when she learns that she is to be married to Juba and Alexander is has ran away from Roman Rule. Isis makes a full resurrection in Selene, creating powerful magic that affects all of Rome, from Octavian to the Isaics.
For my review, first of all, let me state that I die for books about Egypt, Rome and the Greco-Roman time. This book is perfect for me. I love the magical and exotic atmosphere that these books contain. I started taking notes on this book when I was captivated by Cleopatra's gifts and final prayer. As the book progressed, I was unable to fathom putting down the book to even jot down notes.
From the beginning, Dray imbues on the twins attributes that I contribute to Cleopatra. Alexander Helios, the sun twin, is his mother's strength brought back to life. Cleopatra was a fighter and even engaged Octavian and his forces at Actium. Selene, the moon twin, brings to mind Cleopatra's mental victories. Selene embodies her mother's ability to engage is diplomacy and negotiations. I loved the fact that both twins were their mother's resurrection with different traits.
Stephanie stayed close to history. Selene did survive Rome and went on to become a client queen. I know that some might think that Selene's transformation from Egyptian Royalty to Client Queen of Rome is abrupt, but Selene's change of heart is drawn on the necessity of assimilation to survive. In the beginning of the book, the readers feel Selene's terror, watching allies get killed and the terror is palpable. If Selene had learned anything from her mother, it was to always relate to those around you. I am sure that Cleopatra taught her Greek children how to be Egyptian, as she had done.
Stephanie Dray's Lily of the Nile is a very wonderful book. I fell in love with Selene, and am anxious to hear the rest of her story. I won this book from Stephanie's website. Thanks again Stephanie. And she is a fabulous and generous author!
Here is a link to an excerpt from Lily of the Nile courtesy Stephanie Dray's website.