Daughters of the Nile by Stephanie Dray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An admission: I'm a dyed in the wool Egypt-o-phile and my interest in Augustan Rome isn't all that far behind. I read a lot of novels about those cultures/time periods. (I also read a lot of non-fiction in the same area.) Most of the novels aren't very good. They either totally blow the history, or they nail the history at the expense of the writing. There are a wretched few that blow the history and the writing.
Stephanie Dray's final volume in the trilogy about Cleopatra Selene, the daughter of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, is the happy exception. Even though the actual historical facts about Cleopatra Selene are somewhat sketchy, Dray beautifully brings to life a woman who stood in the shadows of some of history's greatest legends.
If you want a love story that encompasses a heroine's journey against the vivid background of Imperial Rome (and an exotic Roman vassal state) and a heroine who wields heka (magic) with the skill of Hermione Granger with sometimes tragic consequences, this is the book (and trilogy) for you.
Unlike many trilogies with only have enough material for one book but stretched to three to satisfy some market niche, I found myself alternately not wanting this trilogy to end and being completely satisfied with how it did end.
This third book can probably stand alone. Having read the previous two books and knowing the bones of the historical story, however, I can't say that for certain. And really, why cheat yourself out of the experience of reading all three?
If I have any complaints, and I have very few, my main one was that at times Cleopatra Selene seemed a bit strident. Of course, that made for a nice character flaw.
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