Wednesday 28 September 2011

Song Of The Nile by Stephanie Dray

Song of the Nile is part two in Stephanie Dray's historical fiction series about Selene, Cleopatra's daughter.  I read part one, Lily of the Nile, recently (review) and Song of the Nile picks up the story with Selene's marriage to Juba, which leads to her becoming Queen of Mauritania.   But her ultimate ambition is still to become Queen of Egypt and Selene must plot harder than ever if she is to have any chance of achieving it.

Having Lily of the Nile fresh in my mind meant that it was easy for me to make comparisons between the two.  I felt that both the writing and the characterisations were much stronger in Song of the Nile.  Selene goes through some quite unpleasant experiences during the course of this book, and I thought Dray did a good job of capturing the emotions that would arise.  The court politics and intrigue were dealt with realistically.

I also very much enjoyed Selene's characterisation.  Too often I read historical fiction novels in which the royal characters are depressingly normal and humble.  But Selene was a proper Queen; she was haughty, spoilt, ambitious, demanding and not afraid to show it.  It was refreshing because that's probably how she was in real life.

Despite the good writing and characterisations, I did have some issues with the story.  Dray states in her introduction that this is more a work of fiction than a fictional biography, but I found some of the events unbelievable.  And I'm not talking about the supernatural devices, but the remarkable coincidences to bring some of the main characters together at the right time.  I just don't believe that Helios would have always been able to find Selene.  When I feel that way about a book, it's hard for me to get over it and enjoy the other elements.

So this is a bit of a mixed review.  I thought the book started off strong but soon become a bit over the top.  I do think Dray is a good writer with a talent for characters, but ultimately this wasn't the book for me.

Score: 2.5 out of 5
Source: From the author, in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Thank you for the lovely review! I just want to direct your attention, for a hint regarding the remarkable coincidences, to the very first question in the Reader's Guide at the back of the book ;)

  2. I like your note about Selene's character - that does sound refreshingly realistic.

  3. Stephanie, I'm off to have a look. I did read the Reader's Guide but not in-depth. Thanks for taking the time to read my review.

    Lisa - I like my royal characters properly royal!

  4. Thank you for an honest review.

  5. Thank you for your review. It's always good when a novel has a sequel and there's a development in characterisation etc.

  6. It's a pity you didn't like it very much. It sometimes happens with sequels or series...

  7. I enjoy reading your reviews!

    There is an award for you on my blog :)

  8. Feel free to participate in our discussion for Gone With the Wind anyway. You don't have to read the book again if you just finished it. :)

    Kate @ Literary Explorations

  9. I don't read much of historical fiction. Pity that this book turned out to be a mixed bag for you. Any historical novels you would highly recommend?