~~~Review~~~ Daughter of Sand and Stone by Libbie Hawker


Available December 1 on Amazon Kindle

***ARC received from San Francisco Book Review in exchange for an honest review***


Zenobia, the proud daughter of a Syrian sheikh, refuses to marry against her will. She won’t submit to a lifetime of subservience. When her father dies, she sets out on her own, pursuing the power she believes to be her birthright, dreaming of the Roman Empire’s downfall and her ascendance to the throne.

Defying her family, Zenobia arranges her own marriage to the most influential man in the city of Palmyra. But their union is anything but peaceful—his other wife begrudges the marriage and the birth of Zenobia’s son, and Zenobia finds herself ever more drawn to her guardsman, Zabdas. As war breaks out, she’s faced with terrible choices.

From the decadent halls of Rome to the golden sands of Egypt, Zenobia fights for power, for love, and for her son. But will her hubris draw the wrath of the gods? Will she learn a “woman’s place,” or can she finally stake her claim as Empress of the East?

She was born for something more – greatness, power.  Why would the gods have put this keen interest in her heart, this yearning for politics, unless it serves some purpose?

My Take

Daughter of Sand and Stone is a richly woven tapestry of words that creates a Persian desert full of color, scent, and texture.   I found myself inhaling to catch the scent of spices on the warm desert breeze I couldn’t feel.  Or straining to hear the tinkling of water as I sat under the shady palms of the desert oasis.  That’s how beautifully detailed this book is.

Not much is factually known about Zenobia and the author has taken many liberties, by her own admission.  This in no way detracts from the story, but rather enables the author to create a world full of conflict and intrigue. Libbie Hawker has written a captivating and tragic tale recounting the life of an enigmatic woman in rich and vivid detail.  The author imagines Zenobia as a woman with desires and ambitions, destined to follow in the steps of Cleopatra and Dido, in a time when a woman’s greatest hope was for an advantageous marriage.  She makes Zenobia real – a daughter, sister, mother, lover, Empress – and not just the small footnote in the history of the Roman Empire she has been relegated to.

The Huffington Post wrote an article in September detailing the factual aspects of Zenobia’s life and her fight against the Roman Empire.  At a time when Palmyra is once again being destroyed by invading forces, Daughter of Sand and Stone brings a historically and politically important city, and the woman who led it, back to life.

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