The Nile Has Daughters and Dancers and Songs and Priestesses

There’s never enough fiction set in Egypt-of-the-past for me but this week happily brings a new release from Stephanie Dray => DAUGHTERS OF THE NILE (info below). Her novels are historical, based on real people and deal with Egypt in the time of Rome and Cleopatra (all of which I love to read about). As a writer myself, I’m drawn to travel another 1500-2000 years or so further back in time for the setting of my own Ancient Egyptian paranormal romance novels.

As a Reader, I enjoy it all! Who isn’t fascinated by Cleopatra? And her Daughters…

When my first book set in Ancient Egypt was in prepublication, the working title was SONG OF THE NILE. I actually have preliminary cover artwork from Carina Press with that title. Then of course Stephanie released a novel with that very same title LOL, a few months before mine was due to be available. She definitely had “Song of the Nile” locked up first, no question! After her book  was published, my story was retitled by Carina as PRIESTESS OF THE NILE to avoid confusion for its debut, which I love and which worked perfectly for my story.

Stephanie kindly invited me to be a guest on her blog in 2012 after my book was released and I wrote about Pharaoh’s zoo… so I’m happy to be able to have this post about her latest novel on my blog today.

(I also love the cover art for all of Stephanie’s books, just beautiful!)

So with no further introduction:

daughters of the nile

From critically acclaimed historical fantasy author, Stephanie Dray comes the long-awaited new tale based on the true story of Cleopatra’s daughter.

daughters book coverAfter 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?

Read the Reviews

“A stirring story of a proud, beautiful, intelligent woman whom a 21st century reader can empathize with. Dray’s crisp, lush prose brings Selene and her world to life.” ~RT Book Reviews

“The boldest, and most brilliant story arc Dray has penned…” ~Modge Podge Reviews

“If you love historical fiction and magical realism, these books are for you.” ~A Bookish Affair

Read an Excerpt from DAUGHTERS OF THE NILE

Below me, six black Egyptian cobras dance on their tails, swaying. I watch their scaled hoods spread wide like the uraeus on the crown of Egypt. Even from this height, I’m paralyzed by the sight of the asps, their forked tongues flickering out between deadly fangs. I don’t notice that I’m gripping the balustrade until my knuckles have gone white, all my effort concentrated upon not swooning and falling to my death.

And I would swoon if I were not so filled with rage. Someone has arranged for this. Someone who knows what haunts me. Someone who wants to send me a message and make this occasion a moment of dread. My husband, the king must know it, for he calls down, “That’s enough. We’ve seen enough of the snake charmer!”

There is commotion below, some upset at having displeased us. Then Chryssa hisses, “Who could think it a good idea to honor the daughter of Cleopatra by coaxing asps from baskets of figs?”

The story the world tells of my mother’s suicide is that she cheated the emperor of his conquest by plunging her hand into a basket where a venomous serpent lay in wait. A legend only, some say, for the serpent was never found. But I was there. I brought her that basket. She was the one bitten but the poison lingers in my blood to this day. I can still remember the scent of figs in my nostrils, lush and sweet. The dark god Anubis was embroidered into the woven reeds of the basket, the weight of death heavy in my arms. I can still see my mother reach her hand into that basket, surrendering her life so that her children might go on without her. And I have gone on without her.

I have survived too much to be terrorized by the emperor’s agents or whoever else is responsible for this.

If it is a message, a warning from my enemies, I have already allowed them too much of a victory by showing any reaction at all. So I adopt as serene a mask as possible. My daughter blinks her big blue eyes, seeing past my facade. “Are you frightened, Mother? They cannot bite us from there. The snakes are very far away.”

I get my legs under me, bitterness on my tongue. “Oh, but they’re never far enough away.”

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Available now in print and e-book!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble iTunes | Kobo | Powells | IndieBound | Goodreads

stephanie dray STEPHANIE DRAY is a bestselling, multi-published, award-winning author of historical women’s fiction and fantasy set in the ancient world. Her critically acclaimed historical series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into more than six different languages, was nominated for a RITA Award and won the Golden Leaf. Her focus on Ptolemaic Egypt and Augustan Age Rome has given her a unique perspective on the consequences of Egypt’s ancient clash with Rome, both in terms of the still-extant tensions between East and West as well as the worldwide decline of female-oriented religion. Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has-to the consternation of her devoted husband-collected a house  full of cats and ancient artifacts.*

*VS sez: I can SO relate to that!!!

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Lily Langtry and Sarah Bernhardt As 1890s Cleopatras

Recently added these two 1890’s era photographs to my collection of Egyptiana  items. The photos depict famous actresses Lily Langtry and Sarah Bernhardt in their respective poses and costumes as Cleopatra. I was fascinated…I think these ladies are wearing a lot more layers of  clothing than the  actual Cleopatra probably had on in the hot weather in the land of the Pharaohs LOL.

???????????????????????????????Lily Langtry was talked into becoming an actress by Oscar Wilde and of course for a time she was the mistress of the Prince of Wales Albert Edward (later Edward VII). There seemed to be quite a few members of the nobility and the extremely wealthy gentlemen in her timeline. She was very involved in thoroughbred horse racing, owned a winery, may have been the inspiration for a character in Sherlock Holmes – in short, besides her acting, she led a most fascinating life!

Sarah Bernhardt (photo below, R) was known as “The Divine Sarah” and she too has princes and nobles in her timeline, as well as artists and inventors. She took up painting and sculpting herself in later years. She appeared in a motion picture in 1900 and went on to star in a few more movies during the early years of Hollywood. She lost her right leg as the result  of an injury suffered onstage but continued to perform for the rest of her life and for the most part refused to wear a??????????????????????????????? prosthetic limb. I’m sure she too was never boring!

Lily and Sarah were of course performing the Shakespeare play Antony and Cleopatra, not doing a big screen sword and sandal epic like Elizabeth Taylor in more modern time.

cleo exhibit statue lady in draperyAnd here are two statues from the Cleopatra Exhibit I attended last year, which were recovered from the sunken city of  Heracleion and are believed to be from Cleopatra’s time. The curators of the Exhibit suggested that the  second statue may have been Cleopatra herself, but what they based that upon, I have no idea.

cleo exhibit statue of her