Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nefertiti - Michelle Moran

Guest reviewed by the lovely Anne Bennion:
"Hi, I’m a stay at home mom of 4 rambunctious boys. There’s not much that I like better than to curl up on a rainy day and read a book – and since I live in Western Washington where it rains almost all the time, reading is something that I do best."

Summary: Nefertiti and her younger 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 pharaoh. It is hoped by all that her strong personality will temper the young Amunhotep’s heretical desire to forsake Egypt’s ancient gods, overthrow the priests of Amun, and introduce a new sun god for all to worship.

From the moment of her arrival in Thebes, Nefertiti is beloved by the people. Her charisma is matched only by her husband’s perceived generosity: Amunhotep showers his subjects with lofty promises. The love of the commoners will not be enough, however, if the royal couple is not able to conceive an heir, and as Nefertiti turns her attention to producing a son, she fails to see that the powerful priests, along with the military, are plotting against her husband’s rule. The only person wise enough to recognized the shift in political winds – and brave enough to tell the queen – is her younger sister Mutnodjmet(Mutny).

Observant and contemplative, Mutny has never shared her sister’s desire for power. She yearns for a quiet existence away from family duty and the intrigues of court. Her greatest hope is to share her life with the general who has won her heart. But as Nefertiti learns of precariousness of her reign, she declares that her sister must remain at court and marry for political gain, not love. To achieve her independence, Mutny must defy her sister, the most powerful woman in Egypt – while also remaining loyal to the needs of her family.

My Review: Nefertiti is a fascinating story about the Eighteenth Dynasty in Egypt. The story is told from the point of view of Nefertiti’s half sister – Mutnodjmet (Mutny). From her unique point of view, we are taken into the life as “the Sister of the King’s Chief Wife.” She is royalty in her own right, and yet, is nothing like the royalty that currently reigns in Thebes. Nefertiti keeps Mutny close to her because she knows Mutny will never lie to her and will help her keep the coveted position of the King’s Chief wife, which she fears losing because she has only given the Pharaoh daughters and not sons. I was impressed by Mutny and the sacrifices that she made for Nefertiti. I loved the drama that surrounded court life and the forbidden romance that finds it way into Mutny’s life. And of course, the drama that comes when the plague hits added a completely different level of drama for me.

As the story unfolded, I found myself in awe of the fact that the rulers of one of the world’s most powerful nations (during this time period) were nothing but teenagers. Nefertiti was 15 years old when she married the pharaoh Amunhotep. Amunhotep was 17. Despite their age, they succeeded in overthrowing the worship of Amun, the sun god and converted many in the kingdom to worshipping Aten (the sun itself). Nefertiti and Amunhotep created the city Amarna, succeeded in making enemies from most political and military allies from the previous Pharaoh’s reign, and paid the ultimate sacrifice for their arrogance. And the book captures it all! I, too, was captivated by Nefertiti and have found myself pouring over history websites in search of just a little bit more about her life.

My Rating: 5 stars

Sum it up: Politics, power, and passion that will leave you wanting more.

1 comment:

MindySue said...

Great review Anne! So glad to have you! I have always loved hearing about ancient egypt so I'll have to look around for this one.

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