(Cover picture courtesy of Historically Obsessed.)
Based on the true story of Cleopatra’s daughter…
After years of abuse as the emperor’s captive in Rome, Cleopatra Selene has found a safe harbor. No longer the pitiful orphaned daughter of the despised Egyptian Whore, the twenty year old is now the most powerful queen in the empire, ruling over the kingdom of Mauretania—an exotic land of enchanting possibility where she intends to revive her dynasty.
With her husband, King Juba II and the magic of Isis that is her birthright, Selene brings prosperity and peace to a kingdom thirsty for both. But when Augustus Caesar jealously demands that Selene’s children be given over to him to be fostered in Rome, she’s drawn back into the web of imperial plots and intrigues that she vowed to leave behind.
Determined and resourceful, Selene must shield her loved ones from the emperor’s wrath, all while vying with ruthless rivals like King Herod. Can she find a way to overcome the threat to her marriage, her kingdom, her family, and her faith? Or will she be the last of her line?
The main strength of the Cleopatra’s Daughter trilogy is the characters. The characters are so real that when they get hurt, you feel the hurt right along with them. Believe me, Selene gets hurt a lot.
In the first book you have Selene as a frightened child, a captive in Rome. In Song of the Nile you have her as an emotionally stunted teenager suffering from a violent rape and being repudiated by a husband who refuses to listen to her side of the story. Now, finally, in Daughters of the Nile Selene is approaching a state of contentment. She’s made her peace with Juba and begins to love him. She’s ruling Mauretania by his side and doing it extremely well. And, most importantly of all, she’s finally happy. Selene knows what she wants out of life and after a little bit of soul-searching in Rome, is prepared to give up her mother’s throne for a chance at happiness. I knew what the ending was going to be, but I felt the tears come out just the same. It’s hard to lose a character you’ve grown to love yet Stephanie Dray brought her trilogy to an amazingly satisfying end. Very few authors can do that.
The plot slows down a little more in the beginning than in the previous books as we get a bigger picture of Selene’s domestic life. When she’s called back to Rome things heat up quite a bit and even I was in doubt about her final decision when it came to Augustus. Even though the ending takes place in Mauretania it’s far from boring as Selene comes into conflict with her teenage daughter Isidora who doesn’t want to be queen like her mother. But really, even if the plot was totally boring in this book it wouldn’t matter. The characters are that compelling.
One of the things that I really enjoy about Stephanie Dray’s writing is that it has very vivid imagery. I can feel the hot air in Mauretania, the stench of the dye factories, the more cool interior of the palace, etc. In Rome I can hear the sounds of thousands of voices on a market day, smell the Tiber in summer and walk through Augustus’ villa to see the beautiful mosaics. Stephanie Dray transports her reader back to a different time and makes them feel at home there which was why when the novel ended it took a few seconds for me to remember where I was. Yes, her writing is just that good.
If you haven’t read Stephanie Dray’s Cleopatra’s Daughter trilogy you need to. It’s by far one of the best books about Cleopatra Selene’s life and it’s extremely well-written. You can’t go wrong with it and I’m very anxious to see what Stephanie Dray chooses to write about next.
I give this book 5/5 stars.