Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nefertiti - Michelle Moran

Michelle Moran
Three Rivers Press
Copyright Date: 2008
The jacket description:
Nefertiti and her younger sister, Mutnodjmet, have been raised in a powerful family that has provided wives to the rulers of Egypt for centuries. Ambitious, charismatic, and beautiful, Nefertiti is destined to marry Amunhotep, an unstable young pharaoh. It is hoped by all that her strong personality will temper the young Amunhotep's heretical desire to forsake Egypt's ancient gods, overthrow the priests of Amun, and introduce a new sun god for all to worship.

From the moment of her arrival in Thebes, Nefertiti is beloved by the people. Her charisma is matched only by her husband's perceived generosity: Amunhotep showers his subjects with lofty promises. The love of the commoners will not be enough, however, if the royal couple is not able to conceive an heir, and as Nefertiti turns her attention to producing a son, she fails to see that the powerful priests, along with the military, are plotting against her husband's rule. The only person wise enough to recognize the shift in political winds-and brave enough to tell the queen-is her younger sister, Mutnodjmet.

Observant and contemplative, Mutnodjmet has never shared her sister's desire for power. She yearns for a quiet existence away from family duty and the intrigues of court. Her greatest hope is to share her life with the general who has won her heart. But as Nefertiti learns of the precariousness of her reign, she declares that her sister must remain at court and marry for political gain, not love. To achieve her independence, Mutnodjmet must defy her sister, the most powerful woman in Egypt-while also remaining loyal to the needs of her family.

Love, betrayal, political unrest, plague, and religious conflict-Nefertiti brings ancient Egypt to life in vivid detail. Fast-paced and historically accurate, it is the dramatic story of two unforgettable women living through a remarkable period in history.

With a rich and detailed landscape, Nefertiti paints a wonderfully fascinating picture of Egyptian life during the time of Nefertiti and Akhenaten. Nearly as much as King Tut, Nefertiti has captured the imagination of the world, and Michelle Moran has created a captivating picture of this powerful woman and the events of the time. Nefertiti is told from the perspective of Mutnodjmet, her sister, and a figure I hadn't heard of before I read this book.

Unlike some of the books I've been reading lately, such as Hand of Isis by Jo Graham, Nefertiti is straight historical fiction with no elements of the fantastical. It makes for a nice change to know that everything in the book is as accurate as our current knowledge knows.

I'll admit that I couldn't help but compare Nefertiti with Hand of Isis, even though the two books are very different. I think it's because the two are about ancient Egypt, and are also told from similar perspectives.

Details can really make or break a book. In this case, I found that most of the little details about life made the book. I loved reading about the herb-lore that Mutny knew, and the uses she put her knowledge towards. I had to laugh as well at the antics of her cat, Bastet. Mine does the exact same thing, except she's no kitten.

Nefertiti is a book that can be read and enjoyed in two or three sittings, if you don't mind staying up late. However, I found it to be well worth the loss of sleep, being a captivating read. I think I've commented recently about novels making me want to find out more about a place or period. This book has turned out to be another one of those.

I'm looking forwards to the next book, Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran, due out next month.

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