Author: Michelle Moran
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Copyright Date: 2007, 2008, 2009
Print Date: December 2009
Pages: 457 + Afterword, Glossary, Reader's Group Guide, and "A Conversation With Michelle Moran"
Series: Followed by The Heretic Queen
Book Description (from back cover):
Nefertiti and her 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 pharoah. It is hoped that her strong personality will temper the young ruler's heretical desire to forsake Egypt’s ancient gods.Comments (Intro):
From the moment of her arrival in Thebes, Nefertiti is beloved by the people, but she fails to see that powerful forces are plotting against her husband's reign. The only person brave enough to warn the queen is her younger sister, yet remaining loyal to Nefertiti will force Mutnodjmet into a dangerous political game — one that could cost her everything she holds dear.
This portion is not directly related to the book. That can be found in the second Comments section.
Let me explain my interest in reading historical fiction placed in Egypt. I haven't read many, but one of my all-time favorite books is the YA Mara, Daughter of the Nile. That author, Eloise Jarvis McGraw, also wrote a Newbery Honor book taking place in historical Egypt, The Golden Goblet.
Anyway, to get slightly more on track... I've also been to a museum exhibit (back in 2006) on Tutankhamun. As I was reading this I realized I had read and learned about parts of the historical details back when I saw the exhibit. (Oddly enough, it wasn't Nefertiti's part in the exhibit I remembered most vividly but Akhetaten's. I do belive I remembered more about him than I did King Tut. I really need to work on my memory retention when I go to things like that.)
Comments (The Book):
So, what to say about this book. I had a slow start, but even then I could tell the book had the power to draw me in... and it did.
Mutnodjmet was a great character and narrator. I was rooting for her the entire time. Her honestly, integrity, loyalty... like I said, a great character. In her turn it was great to see Nefertiti as the ambitious young girl/woman that would take huge risks (but also act in what she felt would best secure her position), show great confidence (with glimpses of vulnerability), and make large compromises (while remaining remarkably determined and stubborn). Michelle Moran was just as good at showing such depth in a number of other characters (Akhetaten, Ay, Tiye, etc.), too.
As for the story. Wow, the politics! I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to live with all those politics as a major part of life. Or, maybe it'd be more accurate to say I can start to understand after reading this, and know I wouldn't like it one bit. Anyway, the book allowed a bit of true history mixed with a bit of imagination (and artistic lisence) to develop into a fascinating and much more personal.
I was satisfied with the ending of the book ... until I read the Afterword. I have horrible luck with afterwords (Tangent: Biggest disappointment with an afterword... Island of the Blue Dolphins.) I do not at all like Mutnodjmet's actual ending. =(
Which brings me to the next point. Will I read more by Michelle Moran? Absolutely. However, I was certain I wouldn't read The Heretic Queen because of the connection to Mutnodjmet. I've since read more on the author's website, in particular, the Q&A about The Heretic Queen, and I think it might be okay. (Sidenote: That is the problem with reading historical fiction about actual historical events and people. So much of it is depressing.)