Friday, January 6, 2017

#amreading Ancient Egypt: Daughters of the Nile

I'm trying something new, a Friday review of a book about or set in Ancient Egypt. I  still will do two video Fridays like this one and the usual monthly review of other books like this one.

I'm starting with a book I read awhile back, Daughters of the Nile by Stephanie Dray.

An admission that will come as no surprise to anyone who reads this blog. 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 both the history and the writing.

Stephanie Dray's final volume in a trilogy about Cleopatra Selene, the daughter of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, is the happy exception. Even though  actual historical facts about Cleopatra Selene are somewhat sketchy, Dray beautifully brings to life a woman who stood in the shadow 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, albeit 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 not wanting this trilogy to end, and I was 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.

But don't believe me, judge for yourself. You won't be sorry.