Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: Nefertiti by Michelle Moran

Title: Nefertiti
Author: Michelle Moran
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Published: 2007
Pages: 496

Rating: 8 out of 10

I had enjoyed Moran's book Cleopatra's Daughter, but this book was absolutely excellent. I tore through it in one night, and then read nothing at all the next day, because the setting and characters of this book hadn't quite worn off yet.

This is the story of Nefertiti, the wife of 18th Dynasty Ancient Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, as told through the eyes of her sister Mutnodjmet.

Akhenaten's reign was one of the most notorious and controversial of the old Egyptian kingdom, as he replaced the traditional gods with only one god, Aten. I knew the basics of his story, but this book very much brought the situation to life.
I have always found Akhenaten interesting. In his time, the practice of monotheism, or worshiping only one god, was not popular. He also insisted that art depicting him and Nefertiti strive to portray how they really looked, rather than the cookie-cutter faces every pharaoh had etched on walls. Also, unheard of. His reign caused a lot of upset in Egypt, but in many ways he was a revolutionary man with great, new ideas.
This book portrays him to be not necessarily evil, but certainly selfish, arrogant, and at times weak.

Nefertiti was absolutely fascinating here. Clever, ambitious, scheming, ruthless, and of course, drop dead gorgeous. While this type of character could easily have fallen into the cliche category in the hands of another author, Moran executes it flawlessly. Nefertiti becomes a living, breathing character here that I both loved and hated.

The main character, Mutny, is the younger sister of the queen. Even though it is her narrating the story, she isn't quite as memorable as her sister, but the author still builds a strong character for her as well. Mutny had a sad story, and I became very attached to her. By the end, I was aching for everything to work out for her.

This book is impossible to put down with its constant plots and court intrigue, scheming queens and shifting loyalties. The dazzling, exotic world of Ancient Egypt is brought powerfully to life.

I was very impressed with this book, and I can't wait to read more by Michelle Moran. Highly recommended!