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Winner Best Literary Fiction Blog - 2008
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Nefertiti – Book Review

She was threatening and powerful and stunning. She looked at herself in the mirror as Thutmose came up behind her. He raised the flat-topped crown so all of us could see it, then fit the burden tightly around Nefertiti’s head. No one else could have worn it. It had been designed for her, tall and slender with an asp ready to spit poison into her enemies’ eyes. Nefertiti turned around, and if I had been a peasant in the fields, I would have thought I was staring into the face of a goddess. -From Nefertiti, page 206-

Michelle Moran’s debut novel Nefertiti is a sprawling historical fiction set in ancient Egypt. Nefertiti, the beautiful daughter of the Queen’s brother, is wed at age 15 to the Pharaoh’s son Amunhotep (who later renames himself Akhenaten). Nefertiti, chosen to temper the rash judgment of Amunhotep, must win the future Pharaoh’s heart to keep her place as Queen.  Amunhotep becomes Pharaoh of all Egypt when his father dies under suspicious circumstances. When he turns his back on the trusted God Amun to worship Aten – the God of the Sun – and erects a new city in Aten’s honor, Nefertiti finds herself embroiled in the political dangers of the Court.

Narrated by Nefertiti’s younger sister, Mutnodjmet, the novel is full of vivid imagery and reveals the greed, power and wealth which surrounded the royalty of ancient Egypt. Nefertiti’s reign as First Wife and Queen, and later her ascendancy to Pharaoh-Queen is told in splendid detail.

I parted the curtains, and on every new temple and shrine was Nefertiti’s image: on the doors, across the walls, from the faces of crouching sphinxes. She was etched into every public space, her face engraved where the faces of Isis and Hathor should have been. And from the massive columns supporting the palace, in place of Amun peered the profile of Akhenaten. When the litter bearers put us down beyond the fortified gates, Nakhtmin stared up at the pylons, then looked out over the city. “They have made themselves into gods.” -From Nefertiti, page 373-

But it is perhaps the lesser story of her sister Mutnodjmet (Mutny) which enchants the reader the most. Mutny is loyal to her family, serves as doting servant to her sister, adores her vast and beautiful gardens, and is skilled in healing. Her romance with General Nakhtmin – a man with whom the new Pharaoh disapproves – forces her to re-examine her loyalties.  It is through Mutny’s eyes that the reader grows to understand the sacrifice her sister makes to hold the ultimate power in Egypt.

No Pharaoh had ever granted the crook and flail to a woman. But when Nefertiti stood before the crowds to bless the, they pressed against each other and stood on stools simply to catch a glimpse of her face. -from Nefertiti, page 398-

Moran’s novel is a page turner, impeccably researched and satisfying. Nefertiti is full of intrigue, romance, and history. Readers who want to experience life in  Egypt from 1351 BCE through 1335 BCE will not want to miss this book.

Recommended.

11 Comments

  1. November 30, 2008    

    I think I’m going to have to break down and use my Audible credits for her books after Christmas. They just sound better and better every time someone writes a review.

  2. Kathy Kathy
    November 30, 2008    

    I’ve got this and The Heretic Queen in my pile. I need to make time to read them.

  3. November 30, 2008    

    I’ve heard of this book; it sounds very interesting! Thanks for this review.

  4. November 30, 2008    

    I loved this book so much. And believe it or not, The Heretic Queen is even better (in my opinion). It’s a stand-alone book, but is so much more satisfying if you’ve read Nefertiti.

  5. December 1, 2008    

    I’m going to a book sale today and will have to see if i can find a copy of this. You’ve defintely piqued my interest!! 🙂

  6. December 1, 2008    

    I won both this and The Heretic Queen from Lezlie back in September. I’ve been so busy with trying to finish challenges and ARCs that I haven’t gotten to them yet. I am really looking forward to them both.

  7. December 4, 2008    

    LH: She is a great historical fiction writer! I think you’ll like the books 🙂

    Kathy: Oh, don’t wait to read them…they are wonderful!

    You’re welcome, Rebecca.

    Michele: I’m almost done with The Heretic Queen and I agree – I like it even better than Nefertiti!

    Typ0: Good luck finding the book. If you don’t find it, come back here on Saturday…I’m hosting a giveaway of BOTH of Moran’s books then!

    Teddy: With your love of historical fiction, I predict you will love both the books!

  8. December 5, 2008    

    I am quite fond of this book too. I hadn’t known much about the time period before reading the book, but it got me into research mode once I began. I’m looking forward to reading the author’s newest book.

  9. December 7, 2008    

    Wendy Cat: I am really eager to read her 2009 book…such an interesting character in Cleopatra!

  10. December 8, 2008    

    I loved this book!! Moran really brought Egypt to life for me.

  11. December 12, 2008    

    Anna: She is a wonderful historical fiction writer! Glad you also loved this one 🙂

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