Daughter of Sand and Stone

Written by Libbie Hawker
Review by Jo Ann Butler

At seventeen, Zenobia bat-Zabbai of 3rd-century Palmyra is old enough to wed, but none of the prospective suitors meets her approval. She is descended from queens – Dido of Carthage and Cleopatra of Egypt – and she will not be wed to a lesser man. The death of her father does not spell an end to his daughter’s ambitions. Zenobia takes up a sword and rallies the Palmyrenes to defend their city, and then brokers her own marriage to the Roman governor of the region as his second wife. Will the death of Odenathus cast Zenobia into obscurity? Hardly. Two years later, Zenobia has conquered Egypt, declared herself Empress of the Palmyrene Empire, and proposes an alliance with Rome.

The plot may sound improbable, especially considering that Palmyra is now known as Syria; hardly the place you would expect to find a woman in command. However, Zenobia is a historical figure, and Libbie Hawker introduces her to modern readers in the very enjoyable Daughter of Sand and Stone. Ms. Hawker’s Zenobia is very much a woman of flesh and blood; bold beyond her years, capable of strong ambitions, and even stronger love. An intriguing, believable character set in unfamiliar events, which deserve to be better known. If that sounds good to you, give Daughter of Sand and Stone a try.