The Heretic Queen
by Michelle Moran
Amazon.com: The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family—all 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. A relic of a previous reign, 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.
The Heretic Queen continues the story began in Moran’s novel Nefertiti, but it is not a sequel. The two books are written so that you needn’t read one in order to understand the other. However, if you are not previously familiar with the reigns of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, I would highly recommend reading Nefertiti first so that you can have clearer sense of just how and why these two became so reviled that subsequent rulers sought to blot them from Egypt’s history. Truthfully, I would encourage you just to read Nefertiti anyway, because it was FANTASTIC. But moving on…
I read this book in a single evening. It was amazing. One minute I was sitting on my bed in California, the next I was caught in a time vortex and thrust back nearly four millennia to the land of the Nile. In the sparkling gleam of the palace, nothing is as it seems, and few can be trusted. Nefertari has to constantly fight for her position – which goes against her gentle and compassionate nature – and the intrigues entwine every member of the court. Everybody wants something, and with the stakes so high the competition is intense. The Heretic Queen’s pages are heavy with drama (and I don’t mean the high school variety) and there’s truly something for everyone. You like action? How would a battle with pirates suit you? Romance is more to your taste? The love of Ramesses and Neferari is the stuff of legends.
Michelle Moran did choose to address the story of Moses, the events of which are commonly attributed to the reign of Ramesses II. However, it’s not the same account you find in the Bible. Due to the absence of evidence supporting the events of Exodus outside of the Bible, Moran chose to create a similar figure that could mesh more easily into what archeology has revealed about the political climate of Ramesses’ kingdom.
This is my first 5-star book reviewed in 2009. Go pick it up and start reading!