Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Kim's Review: Nefertiti

When I first read The Heretic Queen, I wasn't very impressed. I felt it was more Chicklit than Historical Fiction. But by then, I had already bought Madame Tussaud, also by Michelle Moran and so after a month, I read that too and thought it was brilliant.

So I finally decided to try reading Nefertiti too. Nefertiti was the Queen of the Heretic King Akhenaten and hence there is very little information about her that survives today. as the suceeding generations tried to wipe out all evidence of their existence.

Nefertiti was way more impressive as a story, than The Heretic Queen was. A lot of reaerch has gone into this book and again like  Madame Tussaud, this book I would definitely classify as Historical Fiction and not just chicklit.

Nefertiti tells the tale of Nefertiti and her sister Mutnodjmet. They are both daughters of the same father but different mothers. The book begins when Nefertiti is 15 and Mutnodjmet is 13. They have been brought up by their father, Ay, away from the Royal court. Even though their father himself is a Vizier and his sister is the reigning Queen.

Nefertiti is beautiful, ambitious, sly and cunning. Mutnodjmet is much simpler and more interested in her herbs and plants and is renowned for never lying.When the Prince Regent, Tuthmosis dies, his brother Akhenaten is next in line. But Akhenaten already has dangerous ideas that conflict with reigning beliefs and his mother wants a wife for him who can sway him from his eccentric ideas. She chooses Nefertiti.

But feeling herself in competition with Akhenaten's previous wife Kiya, Nefertiti chooses to encourage Akhenaten and his ideas to ensure that she is crowned first wife. Mutnodjmet is forced to follow her to the palace and be her chief lady-in-waiting and keeper of secrets. The tale then proceeds with 2 differing points of view of the two sisters being offered for each significant event.

Although Akhenaten and Nefertiti temporarily succeed in building their dream city of Amarna against all voices of reason, their world is shatterred when the city begins to die from the plague, shortly followed by the deaths of their own children. Plunged into the final throes of madness, Akhenaten drives into the city and is attacked by his own people and comes back to the palace to succumb to the plague himself.

The tale ends when Nefertiti dies at the hands of an assassin, along with her daughter Meritaten whom she had anointed Pharoah. The reigns are then taken up by Tutankhamun (son of Akhenaten and Kiya) and his wife Ankhesenamun (daughter of Akhenaten and Nefertiti)

Although this book ends here, we know that their reign did not last too long either, the next significant Pharaohs were Seti and his son Ramses. Ramses II marries Mutnodjmets daughter Nefertari and their story is told in The Heretic Queen.

I completely loved Nefertiti. There is enough intrigue and court politics in this book to interest any reader, so its not confined to a female audience.

Rating: 4.2/5

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