It’s 1351 BCE. Tuthmosis, the older brother of Amunhotep is dead and the wise men of Egypt have concluded that Amunhotep has killed his brother for power, to become the pharaoh.
And as the author Michelle Moran puts it
“Whatever the truth, that night the crown prince, Tuthmosis, dies, and a new crown prince rose to take his place”.
Thus begins the story of greed, unlimited power, dirty politics and one family’s journey into royalty.Nefertiti is chosen by Amunhotep’s mother and her aunt as his wife and the chief Queen. Nefertiti’s entire family has to move to the palace when she gets married. Her father is a vizier to the pharaoh, so we get to know both sides of politics.
Nefertiti is very ambitious and is ready to assist the pharaoh in his heretic ambitious. But the pharaohs’ plans are way ahead of anyone could ever imagine. He wants to forsake Egypt’s ancient God Amun and give its place to a smaller god Aten. He destroys all the temples built for Amun and forbids his people from worshipping him. He builds an entirely new city called Amarna and glorifies himself and his queen Nefertiti by carving their statues and painting their faces everywhere.
Nefertiti does not stop Amunhotep because she realizes that it was the only opportunity to make herself immortal and be remembered through centuries. Like the pharaoh, she turns a blind eye on the political unrest, encroaching enemies and devotes herself entirely to the pharaoh and her ambitions.
This is not Nefertiti’s story alone. It is the story of her sister Mutnodjmet (Mutny) too . In fact I was surprised to find that the narrator is Mutny. She is the exact opposite of Nefertiti. Where Nefertiti wants power, Mutny wants a quiet life in one of the villages, away from all the politics. But for the sake of her sister and her family she becomes Nefertiti’s handmaiden.
There is so much to write about this book and the characters, but I don’t want to spoil the book for those who haven’t read it. The story and the backdrop are interesting; yes, but what brings life to the story are the characters. I loved how author Michelle Moran has constructed a story around an era which is still not entirely explored. Weaving a story around a civilization and characters as ancient as these, must have required a lot of research. There is a lot of information on Michelle Moran’s site which is very interesting. Do check it out.
Nefertiti is a good thriller and a good story which kept me up late turning the pages. Honestly I didn’t want it to end. But then I do have her second book The Heretic Queen, so that’s a solace.