This fictionalized life of the notorious queen is told from the point of view of her younger sister, Mutnodjmet. In 1351 B.C., Prince Amunhotep secretly kills his older brother and becomes next in line to Egypt's throne: he's 17, and the 15-year-old Nefertiti soon becomes his chief wife. He already has a wife, but Kiya's blood is not as royal, nor is she as bewitching as Nefertiti. As Mutnodjmet, two years younger than her sister, looks on (and falls in love), Amunhotep and the equally ambitious Nefertiti worship a different main god, displace the priests who control Egypt's wealth and begin building a city that boasts the royal likenesses chiseled in stone. Things get tense when Kiya has sons and the popular Nefertiti has only daughters, and they come to a boil when the army is used to build temples to the pharaoh and his queen instead of protecting Egypt's borders. Though sometimes big events are telegraphed, Moran, who lives in California and is making her U.S. debut, gets the details just right, and there are still plenty of surprises in an epic that brings an ancient world to life. (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Nefertitiby Michelle Moran
Fast-paced and historically accurate, Nefertiti is the dramatic story of two unforgettable women living through a remarkable period in history.
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/p>/b>
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Fast-paced and historically accurate, Nefertiti is the dramatic story of two unforgettable women living through a remarkable period in history.
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 that her strong personality will temper the young ruler’s heretical desire to forsake Egypt’s ancient gods.
From the moment of her arrival in Thebes, Nefertiti is beloved by the people but fails to see that powerful priests are plotting against her husband’s rule. The only person brave enough to warn the queen is her younger sister, Mutnodjmet.
Observant and contemplative, Mutnodjmet has never shared her sister’s desire for power. She yearns for a quiet existence away from family duty and the intrigues of court. But remaining loyal to Nefertiti will force Mutnodjmet into a dangerous political game; one that could cost her everything she holds dear. Teeming with love, betrayal, political unrest, plague, and religious conflict, Nefertiti brings ancient Egypt to life in vivid detail.
“Meticulously researched and richly detailed . . . an engrossing tribute to one of the most powerful and alluring women in history.”
- Rosalind Miles, bestselling author of I, Elizabeth
"There haven't been two more fascinating or outrageous siblings since the Boleyn sisters...Nefertiti is obsessive reading."
- Robin Maxwell, author of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn
"An engrossing page-turner, Nefertiti brings ancient Egypt to life as two royal sisters struggle to find fulfillment and happiness- one craving ultimate political power, the other desiring only to follow her heart. A strong debut novel of passion and intrigue, Nefertiti kept me up way too late!"
- India Edghill, author of Wisdom's Daughter
"A provocative portrait of limitless power in an ancient land of limitless fascination."
- Ki Longfellow, author of The Secret Magdalene
“Nefertiti is a fascinating window into the past, a heroic story with a very human heart. Compulsively readable!”
–Diana Gabaldon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Breath of Snow and Ashes
"Though sometimes big events are telegraphed, Moran, who lives in California and is making her U.S. debut, gets the details just right, and there are still plenty of surprises in an epic that brings an ancient world to life."
- Publishers Weekly
"Beautifully written and completely engrossing, this first novel should enjoy wide readership."
- Library Journal
"A wonderful, beautifully written, and well researched novel, Nefertiti is a page-turner filled with amazing visuals of a dazzling historical period."
-Jani Brooks - Romance Reviews Today
Read an Excerpt
Peret, Season of Growing
WHEN THE SUN set over Thebes, splaying its last rays over the limestone cliffs, we walked in a long procession across the sand. In the twisting line that threaded between the hills, the viziers of Upper and Lower Egypt came first, then the priests of Amun, followed by hundreds of mourners. The sand cooled rapidly in the shadows. I could feel the grains between the toes of my sandals, and when the wind blew under my thin linen robe, I shivered. I stepped out of line so I could see the sarcophagus, carried on a sledge by a team of oxen so the people of Egypt would know how wealthy and great our crown prince had been. Nefertiti would be jealous that she’d had to miss this.
I will tell her all about it when I get home, I thought. If she is being nice to me.
The bald-headed priests walked behind our family, for we were even more important than the representatives of the gods. The incense they swung from golden balls made me think of giant beetles, stinking up the air whichever way they went. When the funeral procession reached the mouth of the valley, the rattling of the sistrums stopped and the mourners went silent. On every cliff, families had gathered to see the prince, and now they looked down as the High Priest of Amun performed the Opening of the Mouth, to give Tuthmosis back his senses in the Afterlife. The priest was younger than the viziers of Egypt, but even so, men like my father stood back, deferring to his power when he touched a golden ankh to the mouth of the gure on the sarcophagus and announced, “The royal falcon has flown to heaven. Amunhotep the Younger is arisen in his place.”
A wind echoed between the cliffs, and I thought I could hear the rush of the falcon’s wings as the crown prince was freed from his body and ascended to the sky. There was a great amount of shuffling, children looking around the legs of their parents to see the new prince. I, too, craned my neck.
“Where is he?” I whispered. “Where is Amunhotep the Younger?”
“In the tomb,” my father replied. His bald head shone dully in the setting sun, and in the deepening of the shadows his face appeared hawkish.
“But doesn’t he want the people to see him?” I asked.
“No, senit.” His word for little girl. “Not until he’s been given what his brother was promised.”
I frowned. “And what is that?”
He clenched his jaw. “The coregency,” he replied.
When the ceremony was finished, soldiers spread out to stop commoners from following us into the valley, and our small party was expected to walk on alone. Behind us, the team of oxen heaved, pulling their golden cargo across the sand. Around us, cliffs rose against the darkening sky.
“We will be climbing,” my father warned, and my mother paled slightly. We were cats, she and I, frightened of places we couldn’t understand, valleys whose sleeping Pharaohs watched from secret chambers. Nefertiti would have crossed this valley without pause, a falcon in her fearlessness, just like our father.
We walked to the eerie rattle of the sistrums, and I watched my golden sandals reflect the dying light. As we ascended the cliffs, I stopped to look down over the land.
“Don’t stop,” my father cautioned. “Keep going.”
We trudged onward through the hills while the animals snorted their way up the rocks. The priests went before us now, carrying torches to light our way as we walked. Then the High Priest hesitated, and I wondered if he’d lost his bearing in the night.
“Untie the sarcophagus and free the oxen,” he commanded, and I saw, carved into the face of the cliff, the entrance to the tomb. Children shifted in their beads and women’s bangles clinked together as they passed each other looks. Then I saw the narrow staircase leading down into the earth and understood their fear.
“I don’t like this,” my mother whispered.
The priests relieved the oxen of their burden, heaving the gilded sarcophagus onto their backs. Then my father squeezed my hand to give me courage and we followed our dead prince into his chamber, out of the dying sun and into total darkness.
Carefully, so as not to slip on the rocks, we descended into the slick bowels of the earth, staying close to the priests and their reed-dipped torches. Inside the tomb, the light cast shadows across the painted scenes of Tuthmosis’s twenty years in Egypt. There were women dancing, wealthy noblemen hunting, Queen Tiye serving her eldest son honeyed lotus and wine. I pressed my mother’s hand for comfort, and when she said nothing, I knew she was offering up silent prayers to Amun.
Below us, the heavy air grew dank and the smell of the tomb became that of shifted earth. Images appeared and disappeared in the flickering torchlight: yellow painted women and laughing men, children floating lotus blossoms along the River Nile. But most fearsome was the blue-faced god of the underworld, holding the crook and flail of Egypt. “Osiris,” I whispered, but no one heard.
We kept walking, into the most secretive chambers of the earth, then we entered a vaulted room and I gasped. This was where all the prince’s earthly treasures were gathered: painted barges, golden chariots, sandals trimmed in leopard fur. We passed through this room to the innermost burial chamber, and my father leaned close to me and whispered, “Remember what I told you.”
Inside the empty chamber, Pharaoh and his queen stood side by side. In the light of the torches, it was impossible to see anything but their shadowy gures and the long sarcophagus of the departed prince. I stretched out my arms in obeisance and my aunt nodded solemnly at me, remembering my face from her infrequent visits to our family in Akhmim. My father never took Nefertiti or I into Thebes. He kept us away from the palace, from the intrigues and ostentation of the court. Now, in the flickering light of the tomb, I saw that the queen hadn’t changed in the six years since I had last seen her. She was still small and pale. Her light eyes appraised me as I held out my arms, and I wondered what she thought of my dark skin and unusual height. I straightened, and the High Priest of Amun opened the Book of the Dead, his voice intoning the words of dying mortals to the gods.
“Let my soul come to me from wherever it is. Come for my soul, O you Guardians of the heavens. May my soul see my corpse, may it rest on my mummified body which will never be destroyed or perish . . .”
I searched the chamber for Amunhotep the Younger. He was standing away from the sarcophagus and the canopic jars that would carry Tuthmosis’s organs to the Afterlife. He was taller than I was, handsome despite his light curling hair, and I wondered if we could expect great things from him when it was his brother who had always been meant to reign. He shifted toward a statue of the goddess Mut, and I remembered that Tuthmosis had been a cat lover in his life. With him would go his beloved Ta-Miw, wrapped inside her own miniature sarcophagus of gold. I touched my mother’s arm gently and she turned.
“Did they kill her?” I whispered, and she followed my eyes to the little coffin beside the prince.
My mother shook her head, and as the priests took up the sistrums she replied, “They said she stopped eating once the crown prince was dead.”
The High Priest began chanting the Song to the Soul, a lament to Osiris and the jackal god, Anubis. Then he snapped shut the Book of the Dead and announced, “The blessing of the organs.”
Queen Tiye stepped forward. She knelt in the dirt, kissing each of the canopic jars in turn. Then Pharaoh did the same, and I saw him turn sharply, searching for his younger son in the darkness. “Come,” he commanded.
His youngest son didn’t move.
“Come!” he shouted, and his voice was magnified a hundred times in the chamber.
No one breathed. I looked at my father, and he shook his head sternly.
“Why should I bow to him in obeisance?” Amunhotep demanded. “He would have handed Egypt over to the Amun priests like every king that came before him!”
I covered my mouth, and for a moment I thought the Elder would move across the burial chamber to kill him. But Amunhotep was his only surviving son, the only legitimate heir to Egypt’s throne, and like every seventeen-year-old crown prince in our history, the people would expect to see him enthroned as coruler. The Elder would be Pharaoh of Lower Egypt and Thebes, and Amunhotep coregent of Upper Egypt from Memphis. If this son also died, the Elder’s line would be finished. The queen walked swiftly to where her youngest son stood. “You will bless your brother’s organs,” she commanded.
“Because he is a Prince of Egypt!”
“And so am I!” Amunhotep said wildly.
Queen Tiye’s eyes narrowed. “Your brother served this kingdom by joining Egypt’s army. He was a High Priest of Amun, dedicated to the gods.”
Amunhotep laughed. “So you loved him better because he could butcher what he blessed?”
Queen Tiyes inhaled angrily. “Go to your father. Ask him to make a soldier of you. Then we will see what kind of Pharaoh you shall become.”
Amunhotep turned, stooping rashly before Pharaoh in the midst of his brother’s funeral. “I will become a warrior like my brother,” he swore. The hem of his white cloak trailed in the dirt, and the viziers shook their heads. “Together, you and I can raise Aten above Amun,” he promised. “We can rule the way your father once envisioned.”
Pharaoh held on to his walking stick, as if it could support his ebbing life. “It was a mistake to raise you in Memphis,” he pronounced. “You should have been raised with your brother. Here. In Thebes.”
Amunhotep stood swiftly and his shoulders straightened. “You only have me, Father.” He offered his hand to the old man who had conquered a dozen lands. “Take it. I may not be a warrior, but I will build a kingdom that will stand for eternity.”
When it was clear that Pharaoh would not take Amunhotep’s hand, my father moved forward to save the prince from embarrassment.
“Let your brother be buried,” he suggested quietly.
The look Amunhotep gave his father would have turned Anubis cold.
It was only when we returned on barges across the Nile, with the waves to drown our voices, that anyone dared to speak.
“He is unstable,” my father declared on our way back to Akhmim. “For three generations, our family has given women to the Pharaohs of Egypt. But I will not give one of my daughters to that man.”
I wrapped my wool cloak around my shoulders. It wasn’t me he was talking about. It was my sister, Nefertiti.
“If Amunhotep is to be made coregent with his father, he will need a Chief Wife,” my mother said. “It will be Nefertiti or Kiya. And if it is Kiya . . .”
She left the words unspoken, but we all knew what she had meant to say. If it was Kiya, then Vizier Panahesi would have sway in Egypt. It would be easy and logical to make his daughter queen: Kiya was already married to Amunhotep and nearly three months pregnant with his child. But if she became Chief Wife, our family would bow to Panahesi’s, and that would be an unthinkable thing.
My father shifted his weight on his cushion, brooding while the servants rowed north.
“Nefertiti has been told she will be a royal wife,” my mother added. “You told her that.”
“When Tuthmosis was alive! When there was stability and it looked as if Egypt would be ruled by...” My father closed his eyes.
I watched as the moon rose over the barge, and when enough time had passed, I thought it safe to ask, “Father, what is Aten?”
He opened his eyes. “The sun,” he replied, staring at my mother. There were thoughts passing between them, but no words.
“But Amun-Ra is god of the sun.”
“And Aten is the sun itself,” he said.
I didn’t understand. “But why would Amunhotep want to build temples to a sun god that no one has heard of?”
“Because if he builds temples to Aten, there will be no need for the priests of Amun.”
I was shocked. “He wants to be rid of them?”
“Yes.” My father nodded. “And go against all the laws of Ma’at.”
I sucked in my breath. No one went against the goddess of truth. “But why?”
“Because the crown prince is weak,” my father explained. “Because he is weak and shallow, and you should learn to recognize men who are afraid of others with power, Mutnodjmet.”
My mother threw a sharp glance at him. It was treason, what my father just said, but there was no one to hear it above the splash of the oars.
Nefertiti was waiting for us. She was recovering from fever, but even so she was sitting in the garden, reclining by the lotus pool, the moonlight reflecting off her slender arms. She stood up as soon as she saw us, and I felt a sort of triumph that I had seen the prince’s funeral and she’d been too sick to go. Guilt swept this feeling away, however, when I saw the longing in her face.
“Well, how was it?”
I’d planned on having the information drawn out of me, but I couldn’t be cruel the way she could be. “Absolutely magnificent,” I gushed. “And the sarcophagus—”
“What are you doing out of bed?” my mother scolded. She was not Nefertiti’s mother. She was only mine. Nefertiti’s mother had died when her daughter was two; she’d been a princess from Mitanni and my father’s first wife. She was the one who gave Nefertiti her name, which meant the Beautiful One Has Come. And though we were related, there was no comparing us: Nefertiti was small and bronze, with black hair, dark eyes, and cheekbones you could cup in the palm of your hand, whereas I am dark, with a narrow face that would never be picked out of a crowd. At birth, my mother didn’t name me for beauty. She called me Mutnodjmet, meaning Sweet Child of Goddess Mut.
“Nefertiti should be in bed,” my father said. “She’s not feeling well.” And although it was my sister he should have been reprimanding, it was me to whom he spoke.
“I’ll be fine,” Nefertiti promised. “See, I’m better already.” She smiled for him, and I turned to see my father’s reaction. Like always, he had a soft look for her.
“Nevertheless,” my mother cut in, “you were hot with fever and you will go back to bed.”
From the Hardcover edition.
Meet the Author
MICHELLE MORAN’s experiences at archaeological sites around the world motivated her to write historical fiction and continue to provide inspiration for her novels. She is nationally bestselling author of Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, Cleopatra's Daughter, and Madame Tussaud. Visit her online at michellemoran.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Having no real knowledge of who Nefertiti was I decided to buy the book, quite honestly, because of the cover. I have 4 young children and rarely get a chance to read these days so choosing a book that will capture my full interest in the first 10 pages is paramount to the reality that the book will actually be read. I tend to gravitate toward historical novels ...history books seem to lose me and often novels aren't enough substance for me. I was mesmerized from the very beginning and grabbed the book every time I had but a few minites to read. Having Nefertiti's sister as the narrator of the book was brilliant. Having never studied Egyptology, I now feel like I know Nefertiti. It was a very good read and I would highly recommend.
I honestly have loved Egypt and everything about it since I was a child. And although I've never traveled anywhere near Egypt, I love fantasizing about the Egyptian lifestyle. It's so different from today, yet similar in so many ways to the way we live. I finally found a fictional book that has captured Egypt the way I would hope to see it told. Not as some Discovery Channel/History Channel/Textbook version that are no doubt filled with great facts and information, but no real story line that captures the imagination. Michelle, you certainly captured my imagination to the point where I got so fascinated with the characters and the story, I couldn't put the book down. I literally read the last 1/3 of the book for a few hours, and then picked up my Heretic Queen Copy and read it all in one day. I am hooked. I will definitely read those books again. You made it so easy for people to love the story. I also liked how you thought of those who may have not known details about Ancient Egypt vs Today's Egypt, and made it easier for others to understand. I am waiting to get my copy of Cleopatra's Daughter both in hard and paper back in case my toddler son tries to get to it like he did with my other books. I wish you would write more Egyptian novels soon. I realize that you have another book moving away from Ancient Egypt, but I hope you will see this and try to bring some more Ancient Egyptians back to life!
This book is great! Moran has really out done the best of the best. When I first started reading I was surpised that the book was from Mutnodjmet's view not Nefertiti's but as I read on I understood that it made the book beter. I love this book I couldn't put it down once i started reading it. Everybody needs to read this book.
Okay, so we all know who Nefertiti is. I mean, who hasn't seen the incredible bust of this famous queen?? The magic in what Moran has done lies in how she not only brings Nefertiti to life, but in how she tells this story through the queen's half sister's POV. I LOVE historical fiction told in first person and Moran nails it. This book is loaded with accurate historical details, plenty of political intrigue and a spot on portrayal of how religion can be used by the powerful for so many earthly pursuits. The stand-alone sequel comes out July 2008. Count me in! If you're looking to move beyond the Tudors of England, who seem to dominate historical fiction land right now, travel back to ancient Egypt and enjoy Moran's take on dynastic politics.
Well, the year is over (all right, it's been over for two months... so I'm a little behind!), and after reviewing my reads for '07 I think I can safely say that NEFERTITI was my favorite, not just in the historical fiction category, but overall. What I enjoyed most was learning about ancient Egyptian history through a story that didn't whomp you over the head with details, but let everything flow naturally. Even for people who aren't interested in ancient Egypt, the story of the two sisters is interesting enough to make anyone pick up this book. Five stars... Maybe even six!
I'd passed over this book a few times before finally buying it. The only thing I'm sorry about was not reading it sooner! Moran's characters are well-developed and come to life on the pages. I'd recommend this to anyone, Egypt-buff or not.
I think the book is entertaining and well-written. I love the historical fact that is brought into a very human story-- exactly what I look for when choosing to read historical fiction. There are many similarities to The Other Boleyn Sister, but with a very different context. A good, entertaining read that gives you a clearer picture of life in Ancient Egypt.
This book is a great read. It is a historical fiction that sticks to the facts, but it still gripping. I found myself being constantly pulled in to the story, and the history is very fascinating. Never a dry moment. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those with an interest in ancient Egypt or ancient culture.
I could not put down this book. Being of Lebanese Christian descent, I love reading about these kind of topics. The characters are really defined about who they are and what role they play. It really makes you think about what the characters are facing and what would you do if you were in their position? THis book can be used anywhere and can be discussed amongst all ages. The author has a way of making you visually see what is going on in the story, as if you are watching a movie!
One of the best books I have read. It is not only a very wonderful novel, but also a very educational one. It takes you back to times of Nefertiti and teaches you a lot about Egypt in those days. At the same time, though, you won't feel like it is a history book. No, it is a beautiful novel, you'll enjoy it to maximum, an after you'll realize you've learned so much about Egypt.
I had to get a historical fiction book for school, and since my techer highly reccomended this book, I chose this one. It is truly one of the best books I have ever read. I don't really like to read for fun, but this book is great. It is an entertaining version of history, which is great. I developed great mental images when reading this. I would definitley reccomend this book to anyone middle school and up!!!
The names and history that we learn from the media and school are brought to life with personalities and a different perspective. This page turner leans to a rich understanding of history and characters we will always remember. I suggest this to anyone who wants to learn of Egypt without the boreing texts of a history book.
This book was so interesting to read. It kept my attention and made me want to read on to see what was going to happen. I feel that it has an wonderful educational side to it in relation to history. Would recommend to someone looking for a great book to read.
I could not put this book down, it drew me into the world of the characters from start to finiseh. Moran picked a likeable and sympathetic heroine in Mutnodjmet the sister of Nefertiti. Mutny as she is called by her family narrates her family's raise to power within the Egyptian royal family when her older sister Nefertiti marries the unstable future pharaoh Amunhotep who will stop at nothing to reshape Egyptain society and religion. While this book is far from being 100% historically accurate it is a fun fictional version of events. Read this for the enterianment value, not as a history book.
In the eighteenth dynasty of ancient Egypt (1351 to 1331 B.C.) one woman, Nefertiti, rises to power and infamy in the annals of history. The story of Nefertiti¿s life unfolds through the voice of her younger sister, Mutnodjmet. Nefertiti is beautiful, ruthless and narcissistic who seeks affluence and supremacy. Mutnodjmet, the younger sister, is pretty, level-headed, and pragmatic and she has no desire other than to live a simple life surrounded by a loving family. At an early age, Nefertiti marries Prince Akhenaten who becomes heir to the throne after the mysterious death of his more capable older brother. Mutnodjmet is assigned to be Nefertiti¿s companion, eyes and ears, and voice of reason. Akhenaten is a youth bent on forcing his own religious views onto the people. It is his mother¿s hope that Nefertiti be the sound of reason and restrain his impulsive, reckless actions and thoughts. Instead, his ego, and that of his new wife, Nefertiti, knows no bounds as together, they raise their status, create a new god named Aten for all to worship, and build an entire city to glorify. Nefertiti¿s obsessive dependence on Mutnodjmet is so extreme, that it threatens her own future happiness. While Nefertiti becomes more and more involved in building her and her husband¿s fame, Mutnodjmet seeks to escape her sister¿s clutches. Conspiracy and treachery abound throughout this novel. Michelle Moran brings to life multi-dimensional characters through rich dialogue and intricate historical detail. Highly credible, the story captivated from start to finish. The level of research into this period and Nefertiti¿s life is impressive. For all aficionados of ancient Egypt, this is a must have book that will not disappoint. It has my highest rating and I will be eagerly anticipating future books by Michelle Moran.
This book was addicting! I loved the way that she depicted the settings, clothes, and characters in the book so lavishly. She included countless historically accurate tidbits that made a true ancient Egyptian culture lover happy! I also love that the story was told from the perspective of Nefertiti's younger sister who has a more subdued personality.
Nefertiti is one of ancient Egypt's most famous queens but not much is known about her. This book gives you a look at her life and times. Makes for fascinating reading.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I would definitely recommend it!
I have always been captivated by ancient Egypt, and this book truly brought it to life for me. I was an observer in the court of Akhenaten, feeling the tensions, terror and power of a city built on the backs of their starving people and encrusted with gold. I felt the love Mutny had for her sister, and I was fascinated by the fact that Michelle Moran drew a lot of Munty's reactions to the worship Aten from the historical painting left from Amarna and the tombs discovered. Seriously, an incredible book by an author who is truly gifted in transporting her readers back to the past. WORTH EVERY CENT, and I definitely plan on reading this multiple times! This is my 3rd book by Moran and I am hooked!
Michelle Moran's Nefertiti- the Egyptian version of Colin Falconer's Hurrem . The similarity between the two favorites who got the monarch in their hands is striking. I recommend it for historical accuracy, along with Madame Tussaud and all novels by this author. Enjoyed it.