Monday, September 5, 2011

Song of the Nile-Stephanie Dray

Song of the Nile
Stephanie Dray
Berkley, Oct 4 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425243046

In 25 B.C. in Rome, Cleopatra Selene prepares for her arranged marriage to the Berber King Juba of Mauretania and Numidia. Se muses that her late parents Egyptian Queen Cleopatra and Marcus Antony would want her to have married a king in Rome, but not because their enemy Emperor Augustus decreed it. However, she survived by pledging her loyalty to the man who defeated her parents. Since Augustus took Selene, her twin brother Alexander Helios and their youngest offspring Ptolemy Philadelphus into his household as kids aand, the Emperor always thought of her as his Cleopatra. Thus he rationalizes she belongs to him when he rapes her just before she becomes a client queen of his.

Although a stranger in a strange land, Queen Selene thrives in the North African kingdom. Unafraid of Rome or of royal backstabbing, Selene bravely defies the empire when she brings out into the open the worship of the Goddess Isis even with treachery from those who claim to be her friends. In Rome where much began is where much will end.

The second Cleopatra Selene ancient historical fiction (see Lily of the Nile) is a delightful tale that focuses on a real person who Stephanie Dray points out historians have mostly ignored in spite of her being the last Ptolemaic queen instead of her mom and the most powerful of Augustus’ client queens. No longer the child Augustus brought (with her siblings) to Rome, Selene is a courageous individual who seeks religious freedom and acceptance from people in her kingdom and the Empire; yet many proclaim her to be a sorceress. Readers will enjoy the vivid look at the early married years of the Queen of Mauretania and Numidia.

Harriet Klausner

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