by Michelle Moran
Egypt is #1 on my list of places to go. I have always had a fascination with their ancient culture and I almost became a history major because of it. Egypt is amazing with their pyramids and hieroglyphs and sarcophagi and someday I want to go and see all this first-hand. But in the meantime, I have to be content to see pictures and read novels.
"Nefertiti" is a historical fiction novel that goes into great detail of the lives and times ca 1350 B.C. The beginning paralleled "The Other Boleyn Girl" so much that I wasn't sure I was going to like it. The story is from the point of view of Nefertiti's sister Mutnodjemet (Mutny) and explained how their father, Vizier Ay, was the real power behind the throne. Henry VIII, oh, I mean Amunhotep, the pharaoh, doesn't want the same religion as his father and decides to change religions to suit his own needs. But as the story grew, it developed its own momentum and I could focus more on the Egyptian rulers and forget about the Tudors.
The writing style wove a rich pattern of life in Thebes and Nefertiti's glittering city of Amarna, interweaving the characters with their different personalities and lifestyles. Tidbits of Egyptian culture was mixed into the tale, such as festivals and religious beliefs and politics. Even down to the type of jewelry they wore. I liked that there was a glossary in the back with the Egyptian terms; that way the author could get straight to the story without bogging it down explaining what everything is.
Nefertiti, Amunhotep, Mutny, they all leaped off the page. They felt real: the selfishness of the pharaohs, Mutny's desire to have a quiet life, Ay's struggle to save Egypt. If I had to pick one thing that bothered me, though, it would be how Mutny and Nakhtim got together. It seemed contrived and a bit quick; Mutny hadn't even realized she had feelings for Nakhtim and then all of a sudden they were in love and she couldn't live without him. But I overlooked that as the story continued to grab my attention and the pages kept turning.
This novel is a definite recommendation. It brings ancient Egypt to life through the tale of one of the most famous Egyptians-- Nefertiti. I can't wait to continue with "The Heretic Queen", the sequel to this one. But in the meantime, it's back to the Tudors for me; I started "Wolf Hall" this week...