Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

Rating 4 out of 5
Publisher: Quercus;
First Edition edition (December 26, 2008)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B0038QN29E
ISBN-10: 0307381765 ISBN-13: 978-0307381767

The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family–with the exception of Nefertari, the niece of the reviled former queen, Nefertiti. The girl’s deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But this changes when she is taken under the wing of the Pharaoh’s aunt, then brought to the Temple of Hathor, where she is educated in a manner befitting a future queen. Soon Nefertari catches the eye of the Crown Prince, and despite her family’s history, they fall in love and wish to marry. Yet all of Egypt opposes this union between the rising star of a new dynasty and the fading star of an old, heretical one. While political adversity sets the country on edge, Nefertari becomes the wife of Ramesses the Great. Destined to be the most powerful Pharaoh in Egypt, he is also the man who must confront the most famous exodus in history.

This is a tough book for me to review. Let me start with ancient Egypt is one of my favourite topics. It fascinates me. I have read lots of factual information on it and plenty of historical fiction on the period over the years. Rameses and Neferatri being the most famous and well documented Pharaoh and a Queen have naturally featured in a lot of historical fiction.

So this leads me to my only negative point on this book. It was hard for me to seperate the characters in this book from the characters I have read in the past. As well as my own views of this pair from stuff I have read. But by the end of the book I had warmed up to Moran's portrayals and could accept them and the story she told.

This story is told primarily from Nefertari's perspective. So we learn about life at court and the jockeying to be chief Queen, as well as pressure to produce an heir. I haven't read the Ramesses and Nefertari story from only Nefertari's point of view. I liked how Moran tied Nefertari to Nefertiti (while there is no conclusive evidence there is some interesting circumstantial evidence to support this). I think it gave Nefertari an interesting depth trying to rise above her Aunts stigma.

I liked that we don't just see Nefertari as this super strong warrior Queen. It was good to see her as an insecure teenager (that she was) who fought tooth and nail for what she wanted. She was not miss popular from word go and had to win the hearts of court and the people. Previous stuff I have read have always portrayed Nefertari straight up as being super wise, noble warrior Queen which I am sure she would have been from her 20's onwards but as a teenager I am pretty sure in the cut-throat world of Egyptian court she would have had moments of insecurity.

I also thought Moran dealt with Moses really well. This is another area that most historical fictions on the era I have read tend to sort of ignore or gloss over. I felt Moran dealt with it sensitively and avoided turning him into a religious zealot. Made him sensitive and kind, but passionate about his people's future. 

Moran has a beautiful writing style and is able to bring ancient Egypt alive. It is so easy to picture yourself standing in the world with the characters and seeing what they see.

Another wonderful book by Moran that I would recommend to people who enjoy historical fictions.

Want to learn more? As always Michelle Moran's blog has a wealth of information regarding her books which includes the historical evidence she bases her conclusions on. Her page also contains and excerpt for you to download.

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