The final volume of this marvelous series by Stephanie Dray has once again awakened in me a fierce envy of her ability to tell a tale. Riveting, complex characters, their every emotion escaped through the pages and drew me into the fabric of their joys, sorrows, defeats and victories. There is very little in the historical record about Cleopatra Selene, but what the author has done with that very little is just plain and simple good tale telling. Her Selene is believable; from the frightened child being paraded in Octavian’s Triumph, to a Queen, mother and revered priestess of Isis, you get the sense that this could be her historical record or at least a reasonable facsimile. Throw in the depiction of Augustus and his quest for more and more power, his manipulating of Selene and Juba, the tension between the contestants to be Augustus’ heir and you have an epic story that even a crusty old cynic might get a little misty over. 5 stars
Cleopatra Selene, daughter of Mark Antony and Queen Cleopatra is once again marvelously portrayed by Stephanie Dray in the second book of this trilogy tale. The author is on form as she brings the child of book one into a woman driven by the prospect of becoming Queen of Egypt and restoring Isis to prominence. Of course, in order to reach those lofty goals she has to contend with a devious Augustus and his take no prisoners wife, Livia. The story is mostly set during Selene’s reign as Queen and wife to King Juba of Mauretania and details her struggle to maintain the legacy of her mother while learning the dos and don’ts of statecraft and dealing with the maddening antics and commands of Caesar Augustus. The author has given us a tale full of intrigue, hope and desire. It’s a dangerous game trying to outfox a man determined to add to his power over the Roman world and his determination to protect his legacy and the future of his family’s role in ruling the world. The tale is also replete with some surprises, both good and bad, yet Selene finds the strength to persevere in a world where she is often misunderstood by those who want to bring her down. I am looking forward to the finale. 5 stars.