Earlier this year I read and thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this series, Lily of the Nile and I've been wiggling with anticipation for this book. I'm thrilled to say that everything I loved in the first book -- Selene, the historical setting, the magical elements, the compelling detail -- is in this one as well, only amped up more. This is a darker novel that doesn't shy away from the grim reality of ancient Roman life (around 25BC-ish or so). Selene, Cleopatra's daughter, has been married and sent to Mauritania, but from the start of this book, our heroine isn't a passive pawn. As with the first novel, Dray mixes history with magic, but the fantastical elements don't dampen or soften the historical aspects, which I so appreciate. Dray doesn't age up Selene, for example, who is 14 at the start of this novel, nor does she whitewash what imperial life was like.As with the first novel, this book features a teenaged heroine but isn't a YA story; it is decidedly mature and probably not something all readers will like. I hesitate to say I enjoyed it, because some of what transpired made me feel ill, but Dray makes all the characters quite human and quite real, to the point that I loved, hated, empathized with and dismissed everyone at some point, even Selene. It's a maddening, wonderful feeling, and for me, it felt like an accurate representation of what life would have been like for Cleopatra's daughter. You want royal intrigue, this is your book! I was sad when the book ended -- I could have used another 300 pages -- and I'm not sure if there's another book coming or not, but I'm desperate for more of Selene and her world. I loved Mists of Avalon but found rest of Bradley's series to be very thin. In this case, Dray's books get better and better; her world-building and character-development is nuanced and compelling. This is tawdry hist fic with a little more steel in the spine, and I mean that in the best way. Get Lily of the Nile first then grab this one!