The Heretic Queen

The Heretic Queen

by Michelle Moran


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In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family’s past and remake history.

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.

Sweeping in scope and meticulous in detail, The Heretic Queen is a novel of passion and power, heartbreak and redemption.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307381767
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 09/01/2009
Series: Nefertiti Series , #2
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 198,844
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

MICHELLE MORAN is the author of the national bestselling novel Nefertiti. She lives in California with her husband and a garden of more than two hundred roses.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Pharaoh of Upper Egypt

Thebes, 1283 bc

“Stay still,” Paser admonished firmly. Although Paser was my tutor and couldn’t tell a princess what to do, there would be extra lines to copy if I didn’t obey. I stopped shifting in my beaded dress and stood obediently with the other children of Pharaoh Seti’s harem. But at thirteen years old, I was always impatient. Besides, all I could see was the gilded belt of the woman in front of me. Heavy sweat stained her white linen, trickling down her neck from beneath her wig. As soon as Ramesses passed in the royal procession, the court would be able to escape the heat and follow him into the cool shade of the temple. But the procession was moving terribly slow. I looked up at Paser, who was searching for an open path to the front of the crowd.

“Will Ramesses stop studying with us now that he’s to become coregent?” I asked.

“Yes,” Paser said distractedly. He took my arm and pushed our way through the sea of bodies. “Make way for the princess Nefertari! Make way!” Women with children stepped aside until we were standing at the very edge of the roadway. All along the Avenue of Sphinxes, tall pots of incense smoked and burned, filling the air with the sacred scent of kyphi that would make this, above all days, an auspicious one. The brassy sound of trumpets filled the avenue, and Paser pushed me forward. “The prince is coming!”

“I see the prince every day,” I said sullenly. Ramesses was the only son of Pharaoh Seti, and now that he had turned seventeen, he would be leaving his childhood behind. There would be no more studying with him in the edduba, or hunting together in the afternoons. His coronation held no interest for me then, but when he came into view, even I caught my breath. From the wide lapis collar around his neck to the golden cuffs around his ankles and wrists, he was covered in jewels. His red hair shone like copper in the sun, and a heavy sword hung at his waist. Thousands of Egyptians surged forward to see, and as Ramesses strode past in the procession, I reached forward to tug at his hair. Although Paser inhaled sharply, Pharaoh Seti laughed, and the entire procession came to a halt.

“Little Nefertari.” Pharaoh patted my head.

“Little?” I puffed out my chest. “I’m not little.” I was thirteen, and in a month I’d be fourteen.

Pharaoh Seti chuckled at my obstinacy. “Little only in stature then,” he promised. “And where is that determined nurse of yours?”

“Merit? In the palace, preparing for the feast.”

“Well, tell Merit I want to see her in the Great Hall tonight. We must teach her to smile as beautifully as you do.” He pinched my cheeks, and the procession continued into the cool recesses of the temple.

“Stay close to me,” Paser ordered.

“Why? You’ve never minded where I’ve gone before.”

We were swept into the temple with the rest of the court, and at last, the heavy heat of the day was shut out. In the dimly lit corridors a priest dressed in the long white robes of Amun guided us swiftly to the inner sanctum. I pressed my palm against the cool slabs of stone where images of the gods had been carved and painted. Their faces were frozen in expressions of joy, as if they were happy to see that we’d come.

“Be careful of the paintings,” Paser warned sharply.

“Where are we going?”

“To the inner sanctum.”

The passage widened into a vaulted chamber, and a murmur of surprise passed through the crowd. Granite columns soared up into the gloom, and the blue tiled roof had been inlaid with silver to imitate the night’s glittering sky. On a painted dais, a group of Amun priests were waiting, and I thought with sadness that once Ramesses was coregent, he would never be a carefree prince in the marshes again. But there were still the other children from the edduba, and I searched the crowded room for a friend.

“Asha!” I beckoned, and when he saw me with our tutor, he threaded his way over. As usual, his black hair was bound tightly in a braid; whenever we hunted it trailed behind him like a whip. Although his arrow was often the one that brought down the bull, he was never the first to approach the kill, prompting Pharaoh to call him Asha the Cautious. But as Asha was cautious, Ramesses was impulsive. In the hunt, he was always charging ahead, even on the most dangerous roads, and his own father called him Ramesses the Rash. Of course, this was a private joke between them, and no one but Pharaoh Seti ever called him that. I smiled a greeting at Asha, but the look Paser gave him was not so welcoming.

“Why aren’t you standing with the prince on the dais?”

“But the ceremony won’t begin until the call of the trumpets,” Asha explained. When Paser sighed, Asha turned to me. “What’s the matter? Aren’t you excited?”

“How can I be excited,” I demanded, “when Ramesses will spend all his time in the Audience Chamber, and in less than a year you’ll be leaving for the army?”

Asha shifted uncomfortably in his leather pectoral. “Actually, if I’m to be a general,” he explained, “my training must begin this month.” The trumpets blared, and when I opened my mouth to protest, he turned. “It’s time!” Then his long braid disappeared into the crowd. A great hush fell over the temple, and I looked up at Paser, who avoided my gaze.

“What is she doing here?” someone hissed, and I knew without turning that the woman was speaking about me. “She’ll bring nothing but bad luck on this day.”

Paser looked down at me, and as the priests began their hymns to Amun, I pretended not to have heard the woman’s whispers. Instead, I watched as the High Priest Rahotep emerged from the shadows. A leopard’s pelt hung from his shoulders, and as he slowly ascended the dais, the children next to me averted their gaze. His face appeared frozen, like a mask that never stops grinning, and his left eye was still red as a carnelian stone. Heavy clouds of incense filled the inner sanctum, but Rahotep appeared immune to the smoke. He lifted the hedjet crown in his hands, and without blinking, placed it on top of Ramesses’s golden brow. “May the great god Amun embrace Ramesses the Second, for now he is Pharaoh of Upper Egypt.”

While the court erupted into wild cheers, I felt my heart sink. I fanned away the acrid scent of perfume from under women’s arms, and children with ivory clappers beat them together in a noise that filled the entire chamber. Seti, who was now only ruler of Lower Egypt, smiled widely. Then hundreds of courtiers began to move, crushing me between their belted waists.

“Come. We’re leaving for the palace!” Paser shouted.

I glanced behind me. “What about Asha?”

“He will have to find you later.”

Dignitaries from every kingdom in the world came to the palace of Malkata to celebrate Ramesses’s coronation. I stood at the entrance to the Great Hall, where the court took its dinner every night, and admired the glow of a thousand oil lamps as they cast their light across the polished tiles. The chamber was filled with men and women dressed in their finest kilts and beaded gowns.

“Have you ever seen so many people?”

I turned. “Asha!” I exclaimed. “Where have you been?”

“My father wanted me in the stables to prepare—”

“For your time in the military?” I crossed my arms, and when Asha saw that I was truly upset, he smiled disarmingly.

“But I’m here with you now.” He took my arm and led me into the hall. “Have you seen the emissaries who have arrived? I’ll bet you could speak with any one of them.”

“I can’t speak Shasu,” I said, to be contrary.

“But every other language! You could be a vizier if you weren’t a girl.” He glanced across the hall and pointed. “Look!”

I followed his gaze to Pharaoh Seti and Queen Tuya on the royal dais. The queen never went anywhere without Adjo, and the black-and-white dog rested his tapered head on her lap. Although her iwiw had been bred for hunting hare in the marshes, the farthest he ever walked was from his feathered cushion to his water bowl. Now that Ramesses was Pharaoh of Upper Egypt, a third throne had been placed next to his mother.

“So Ramesses will be seated off with his parents,” I said glumly. He had always eaten with me beneath the dais, at the long table filled with the most important members of the court. And now that his chair had been removed, I could see that my own had been placed next to Woserit, the High Priestess of Hathor. Asha saw this as well and shook his head.

“It’s too bad you can’t sit with me. What will you ever talk about with Woserit?”

“Nothing, I suspect.”

“At least they’ve placed you across from Henuttawy. Do you think she might speak with you now?”

All of Thebes was fascinated with Henuttawy, not because she was one of Pharaoh Seti’s two younger sisters, but because there was no one in Egypt with such mesmerizing beauty. Her lips were carefully painted to match the red robes of the goddess Isis, and only the High Priestess was allowed to wear that vivid color. As a child of seven I had been fascinated by the way her cloak swirled around her sandals, like water moving gently across the prow of a ship. I had thought at the time that she was the most beautiful woman I would ever see, and tonight I could see that I was still correct. Yet even though we had eaten together at the same table for as long as I could remember, I couldn’t recall a single instance when she had spoken to me. I sighed. “I doubt it.”

“Don’t worry, Nefer.” Asha patted my shoulder the way an older brother might have. “I’m sure you’ll make friends.”

He crossed the hall, and I watched him greet his father at the generals’ table. Soon, I thought, he’ll be one of those men, wearing his braided hair in a small loop at the back of his neck, never going anywhere without his sword. When Asha said something to make his father laugh, I thought of my mother, Queen Mutnodjmet. If she had survived, this would have been her court, filled with her friends, and viziers, and laughter. Women would never dare to whisper about me, for instead of being a spare princess, I’d be the princess.

I took my place next to Woserit, and a prince from Hatti smiled across at me. The three long braids that only Hittites wore fell down his back, and as the guest of honor, his chair had been placed to the right of Henuttawy. Yet no one had remembered the Hittite custom of offering bread to the most important guest first. I took the untouched bowl and passed it to him.

He was about to thank me when Henuttawy placed her slender hand on his arm and announced, “The court of Egypt is honored to host the prince of Hatti as a guest at my nephew’s coronation.”

The viziers, along with everyone at the table, raised their cups, and when the prince made a slow reply in Hittite, Henuttawy laughed. But what the prince said hadn’t been funny. His eyes searched the table for help, and when no one came to his aid, he looked at me.

“He is saying that although this is a happy day,” I translated, “he hopes that Pharaoh Seti will live for many years and not leave the throne of Lower Egypt to Ramesses too soon.”

Henuttawy paled, and at once I saw that I was wrong to have spoken.

“Intelligent girl,” the prince said in broken Egyptian.

But Henuttawy narrowed her eyes. “Intelligent? Even a parrot can learn to imitate.”

“Come, Priestess. Nefertari is quite clever,” Vizier Anemro offered. “No one else remembered to pass bread to the prince when he came to the table.”

“Of course she remembered,” Henuttawy said sharply. “She proba- bly learned it from her aunt. If I recall, the Heretic Queen liked the Hittites so much she invited them to Amarna where they brought us the plague. I’m surprised our brother even allows her to sit among us.”

Woserit frowned. “That was a long time ago. Nefertari can’t help who her aunt was.” She turned to me. “It’s not important,” she said kindly.

“Really?” Henuttawy gloated. “Then why else would Ramesses consider marrying Iset and not our princess?” I lowered my cup, and Henuttawy continued. “Of course, I have no idea what Nefertari will do if she’s not to become a wife of Ramesses. Maybe you could take her in, Woserit.” Henuttawy looked to her younger sister, the High Priestess of the cow goddess Hathor. “I hear that your temple needs some good heifers.”

A few of the courtiers at our table snickered, and Henuttawy looked at me the way a snake looks at its dinner.

Woserit cleared her throat. “I don’t know why our brother puts up with you.”

Henuttawy held out her hand to the Hittite prince, and both of them stood to join the dancing. When the music began, Woserit leaned close to me. “You must be careful around my sister now. Henuttawy has many powerful friends in the palace, and she can ruin you in Thebes if that’s what she wishes.”

“Because I translated for the prince?”

“Because Henuttawy has an interest in seeing Iset become Chief Wife, and there has been talk that this was a role Ramesses might ask you to fill. Given your past, I should say it’s unlikely, but my sister would still be more than happy to see you disappear. If you want to continue to survive in this palace, Nefertari, I suggest you think where your place in it will be. Ramesses’s childhood ended tonight, and your friend Asha will enter the military soon. What will you do? You were born a princess and your mother was a queen. But when your mother died, so did your place in this court. You have no one to guide you, and that’s why you’re allowed to run around wild, hunting with the boys and tugging Ramesses’s hair.”

I flushed. I had thought Woserit was on my side.

“Oh, Pharaoh Seti thinks it is cute,” she admitted. “And you are. But in two years that kind of behavior won’t be so charming. And what will you do when you’re twenty? Or thirty even? When the gold that you’ve inherited is spent, who will support you? Hasn’t Paser ever spoken about this?”

I steadied my lip with my teeth. “No.”

Woserit raised her brows. “None of your tutors?”

I shook my head.

“Then you still have much to learn, no matter how fluent your Hittite.”

That evening, as I undressed for bed, my nurse remarked on my unusual silence.

“What? Not practicing languages, my lady?” She poured warm water from a pitcher into a bowl, then set out a cloth so I could wash my face.

“What is the point of practicing?” I asked. “When will I use them? Viziers learn languages not spare princesses. And since a girl can’t be a vizier . . .”

Merit scraped a stool across the tiles and sat next to me. She studied my face in the polished bronze, and no nurse could have been more different from her charge. Her bones were large, whereas mine were small, and Ramesses liked to say that whenever she was angry her neck swelled beneath her chin like a fat pelican’s pouch. She carried her weight in her hips and her breasts, whereas I had no hips and breasts at all. She had been my nurse from the time my mother had died in childbirth, and I loved her as if she were my own mawat. Now, her gaze softened as she guessed at my troubles. “Ah.” She sighed deeply. “This is because Ramesses is going to marry Iset.”

I glanced at her in the mirror. “Then it’s true?”

She shrugged. “There’s been some talk in the palace.” As she shifted her ample bottom on the stool, faience anklets jangled on her feet. “Of course, I had hopes that he was going to marry you.”

“Me?” I thought of Woserit’s words and stared at her. “But why?”

She took back my cloth and wrung it out in the bowl. “Because you are the daughter of a queen, no matter your relationship to the Heretic and his wife.” She was referring to Nefertiti and her husband, Akhenaten, who had banished Egypt’s gods and angered Amun. Their names were never spoken in Thebes. They were simply The Heretics, and even before I had understood what this meant, I had known that it was bad. Now, I tried to imagine Ramesses looking at me with his wide blue eyes, asking me to become his wife, and a warm flush crept over my body. Merit continued, “Your mother would have expected to see you married to a king.”

“And if I don’t marry?” After all, what if Ramesses didn’t feel the same way about me as I felt about him?

“Then you will become a priestess. But you go every day to the Temple of Amun, and you’ve seen how the priestesses live,” she said warningly, motioning for me to stand with her. “There wouldn’t be any fine horses or chariots.”

I raised my arms, and Merit took off my beaded dress. “Even if I were a High Priestess?”

Merit laughed. “Are you already planning for Henuttawy’s death?”

I flushed. “Of course not.”

“Well, you are thirteen. Nearly fourteen. It’s time to decide your place in this palace.”

“Why does everyone keep telling me this tonight?”

“Because a king’s coronation changes everything.”

I put on a fresh sheath, and when I climbed into bed, Merit looked down at me.

“You have eyes like Tefer,” she said tenderly. “They practically glow in the lamplight.” My spotted miw curled closer to me, and when Merit saw us together she smiled. “A pair of green-eyed beauties,” she said.

“Not as beautiful as Iset.”

Merit sat herself on the edge of my bed. “You are the equal of any girl in this palace.”

I rolled my eyes and turned my face away. “You don’t have to pretend. I know I’m nothing like Iset—”

“Iset is three years older than you. In a year or two, you will be a woman and will have grown into your body.”

“Asha says I’ll never grow, that I’ll still be as short as Seti’s dwarfs when I’m twenty.”

Merit pushed her chin inward so that the pelican’s pouch wagged angrily. “And what does Asha think he knows about dwarfs? You will be as tall and beautiful as Isis one day! And if not as tall,” she added cautiously, “then at least as beautiful. What other girl in this palace has eyes like yours? They’re as pretty as your mother’s. And you have your aunt’s smile.”

“I’m nothing like my aunt,” I said angrily.

But then, Merit had been raised in the court of Nefertiti and Akhenaten, so she would know if this were true. Her father had been an important vizier, and Merit had been a nurse to Nefertiti’s children. In the terrible plague that swept through Amarna, Merit lost her family and two of Nefertiti’s daughters in her care. But she never spoke about it to me, and I knew she wished to forget this time twenty years ago. I was sure, as well, that Paser had taught us that the High Priest Rahotep had also served my aunt once, but I was too afraid to confirm this with Merit. This is what my past was like for me. Narrowed eyes, whispering, and uncertainty. I shook my head and murmured, “I am nothing like my aunt.”

Merit raised her brows. “She may have been a heretic,” she whispered, “but she was the greatest beauty who ever walked in Egypt.”

“Prettier than Henuttawy?” I challenged.

“Henuttawy would have been cheap bronze to your aunt’s gold.”

I tried to imagine a face prettier than Henuttawy’s, but couldn’t do it. Secretly I wished that there was an image of Nefertiti left in Thebes. “Do you think that Ramesses will choose Iset because I am related to the Heretic Queen?”

Merit pulled the covers over my chest, prompting a cry of protest from Tefer. “I think that Ramesses will choose Iset because you are thirteen and he is seventeen. But soon, my lady, you will be a woman and ready for whatever future you decide.”

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Heretic Queen 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 281 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Oh, what a novel! I wish it had not come to an end. Every time I picked up the book to settle in for a read, I was swept into the world of Egypt with Pharaoh's and Warrior Queen's. I was impressed by Nefertiti, Michelle Moran's debut, but The Heretic Queen surpasses my admiration by far. Our story is told from a first person perspective straight from the mouth of Nefertari, beloved of Ramesses, and Warrior Queen of Egypt. From a child to a woman, as a reader you get to hold onto her tale. I giggled with her, and I became enraged at her enemies. I felt empathy for her situations and I praised her for her morality and decisions for love instead of revenge. Nefertari is one for the heart, she has gone in and is there to stay. I wish her story could continue, because I would just love to soak in more. Michelle has truly a winner on her hands here. It is one of those books that I doubt I will lend, because I just want to read it again (sorry, go buy your own!). It makes me think about so many things. Although, I do believe it is a fabulous novel and can be fully enjoyed on it's own, it does make me desire to go back and re-read Nefertiti, because I have know realized things that I have missed. Nefertiti and her Pharaoh left a legacy that was difficult if not impossible to follow for our dear Nefertari, but in this novel she is shown as a masterful work of beauty. She overcomes the 'sins of her fathers' and moves beyond. So many elements of historical value are found within these pages that I want to buy a textbook or book a plane trip to learn more. Michelle gives you just a taste and it is the teaser of the mind. She is an author to watch and look forward to for more, that can know go without having to be said. I cannot wait for Cleopatra's Daughter next year!
Sabriel415 More than 1 year ago
The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran is just as good as her novel Nefertit! I love this book so much, and it has made it into my top ten favorite books list! I definitely reccommend this book to anyone who loves Egypt, but I suggest you read Nefertiti first so you understand the reasons behind Nefertari's struggles. I love how Moran put together the whole Egyptian world of this book even though some of the events are not completely historically accurate. It is great how she put together the story from her own interpretations of Egyptian art and stories that she has heard, and from what I can tell, this book follows the time line of Egypt very well. What I also liked about this book was all of the history that I learned! I did know some of it, but I learned a lot about the gods and the different roles at the Egyptian court. The story flowed at a steady pace, and there was always something going on. There were never any boring parts! I suppose one event towards the end of the book was quite sudden, but I suppose that is the nature of such events. I won't tell you what happened so it doesn't ruin anything! I immediately felt connected to the character Nefertari because Moran described everything so well. She gave Nefertari a definite voice just as she did with the characters in Nefertiti. She also did a wonderful job with depicting Ramesses. I did not always like him at times, but I can see why he is called Ramesses the Great. He seemed very charismatic and he was a great war leader. Everything that Moran wrote about Nefertari's and Ramesses's relationship seems to be very accurate, too. At the end of the Author's Note, Moran states that Ramesess really was truely in love with Nefertari, for in her tomb he had inscribed, "My love is unique and none can rival her... Just by passing she has stolen away my heart." How romantic! I love it. Five stars out of five!
iAnaheim More than 1 year ago
I read this book in one sitting! I have read all of Moran's books and this one is my favorite. It is the best love story by far, in my opinion. This is the first book that I have ever read again once it was over. I have now have read it over eight times; I will never grow tired of it. I'll admit the beginning is slow but it's a spectacular read. I recomended this book to just about everyone one of my friends.
agapegrace More than 1 year ago
This book was even better than Michelle Moran's first, Nefertiti. The relationship depicted between Ramesses and Nefertari is very beautiful and epic. Their love is filled with a sense of urgency and confusion as they attempt to navigate their feelings for one another in the midst of the important business of Ramesses declaring a Chief wife who will be politically viable for him. I found myself so wrapped up in Nefer's feelings that I was dying to be able to read faster almost the entire times. I felt the feelings of frustration and urgency that she felt. I also thought it was interesting how Moran briefly touched on the Hebrew people's request to leave Egypt, drawing on historical facts about a group called the Habiru who lived in Egypt around this time period.
jenpalombi More than 1 year ago
Moran has done it again. Another glorious trip to Egypt. Another fictional sneak peak into an ancient dynasty. And this time, she has created a lovely character in Nefertari. Unlike Nefertiti and Mutny, who grew up with respect as daughters of one of the most powerful families in Egypt, Nefertari now finds that same lineage to be a source of unspeakable shame. Nefertiti's memory is reviled by the people of Egypt for her heretical ways. Her family's names and images have been wiped from the record. We learn at the outset that many of the characters we came to love in Nefertiti met with a tragic end, and now young Nefertari is orphaned and alone. an unwanted princess in a usurper's court. We also quickly come to realize that Nefertari is as guileless as Nefertiti was pretentious. Nefertari is one of the most thoroughly sympathetic characters I've encountered in quite some time. Readers can't help but cheer for her victories, ache for her defeats and respect her unselfish decisions. This time however, Moran's other characters are not quite so well-developed or diverse as they were in Nefertiti. For instance, Asha is set forth in chapter one as one of both Ramesses' and Nefertari's closest friends. and while he remains present and relevant to the story throughout, we never really learn anything about him. He represents one in a handful of characters that just wasn't fleshed out as satisfyingly as I would have hoped. The plot, likewise, fell just a little short of the standard set in Nefertiti. While full again of love, loss and court intrigue, it somehow doesn't feel quite as thorough and sweeping as Nefertiti. That said, The Heretic Queen is still compulsively readable and takes readers everywhere from ancient birthing pavilions to battles with pirates on the banks of the Nile to the inner sanctum of ancient temples. The love story between Nefertari and Ramesses is touching. Even Moses turns up in fictional form in the character of Ahmoses. and it is Nefertari who hears his petitions for the freedom of his people in what amounts to an interesting historical sidebar. You just can't help but be swept up in this book almost as completely as in Nefertiti. And while it stands alone on it's own story-telling merit, there are just enough references to Moran's first book to delight fans. (For instance, those of you have read both will understand when I say that I almost cheered aloud when I found out why Rahotep's eye was perpetually red.) These references, however, are not so heavy-handed as to put readers who haven't read Nefertiti at a disadvantage. Another tantalizing aspect of this novel is that it ends with so much of Pharaoh Ramesses' long reign as yet untouched. The Heretic Queen only takes us to the point when Ramesses makes Nefertari his chief wife. There is a whole lifetime that comes after that! Will Moran revisit Ramesses and Nefertari's life together in future books? We'll just have to wait and see. It goes without saying that the setting is just as glorious in The Heretic Queen as it was in Nefertiti. Moran's talent for bringing ancient Egypt to life is nothing short of spectacular. The writing style is just a rich and readable as that of Moran's first book and she has proven here her ability to come up with equally complex but completely fresh characters. The Bottom Line: Another must-read for historical fiction lovers from an immensely talented writer.
BookGoddess01 More than 1 year ago
Michelle Moran is a recent addition to my ever-growing arsenal of historical fiction. I have always had a fascination for ancient Egyptian culture, so this novel comes as a welcome breeze amongst the Tudor-histories that are becoming the overwhelming majority for this genre. While I'm a big Gregory fan, Moran's writing style suits even the most non-academic reader while still doing the historical truths behind her narrative justice. While most historical fiction authors choose to narrate the lives of well known monarchs and world leaders, Moran narrates through the eyes of those around the mighty and powerful. Truthfully, Moran's knowledge of ancient cultures and the research done in preparation for these novels make all three novels exceptional. Start with "Nefertiti", then "The Heretic Queen", and finally "Cleopatra's Daughter." My only regret is that there are as of yet only three novels. I assure you that they're quite addicting. Enjoy!
NonieCC More than 1 year ago
A fascinating read, feels like you're there. I love Egyptian history, and this is a very good book!
soullight More than 1 year ago
This book was so wonderful I couldn't put it down!! Such a love story and a book that describes the Exodus on different terms. I loved this book and the love story of a Pharaoh and his Queen. This author is fast becoming one of my top favorites. Michelle Moran has me hooked!!! The Egyptian history that the author intertwines is fantastic. Any history buff like myself would get hooked by this book. Actually it was two different love stories happening at the same time. I was so impressed after I finished I wanted more and looked online to see what else this wonderful author had written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great historical novel. Could not put it down and was sorry when it ended. After reading "Nefertiti" this was a must to read. Moran has such a vivid imagination and all the facts down so well and embellishes the story that I felt like I was right there in Egypt with the characters. I love her books, especially this type.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book may easily be my favorite book! I couldn't put it down and finished it in three days! I was actually sad when this book was over, I wanted to keep reading it! Will definitely come back for more Michelle Moran books! Absolutely read this and Nefertiti!
head_in_clouds More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book! I read Nefertiti and couldn't put it down and this one was the same way. Even though it is a fiction piece you can tell Michelle Moran went to great lengths to capture a part of history that has been painted and sculpted across Egypt. I love how it has a lot of factual elements that I've learned about but still has the intriguing elements of creativity that draw the reader in with each page turn. I really enjoyed the explanation at the end of what is fact and what in creative conjecture. The glossary was also very helpful while reading. I can't wait to read Cleopatra's Daughter next!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nefertari born a princess, was cursed by the blood of her ancestors. Nefertiti, Mutnodjmet, and a long list of her family were all killed in a mysterious fire, but within the pages of The Heretic Queen, the mystery will be uncovered. Nefertari was the wild child, not suitable enough to be Chief Wife, plus another woman has taken the title of princess from the man she has loved since she was a child. A sabbatical to the priestess temple for a year would change everything. With the help of very strong allies, Nefertari would soon become a young woman that will capture the Pharaoh, Ramsesses¿s heart. She must continually fight for her position in the palace, and she must contend with women that want her gone. A battle between Ramsesses¿s other wife Iset, and the High Priestess of Isis seems that it will never end. Nefertari must rise above all of this childish behavior and show Ramsesses that she can be the Queen of all Egypt. But the people are not so welcoming, the still believe the blood of her heretic family runs in her veins and that they¿re all doomed to death. Nefertari is blamed for the death of the first son born to Ramsesses, blamed for the four year drought, and for anything else that is ¿rumored¿ about her. She must be strong, and in the end, the truth will prevail. A love triangle, deceit, betrayal, and romance are woven into the novel, The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran. This is the second book by Ms. Moran and where I felt like the first was lacking, this one more than made up for it. I still have issues with the dialect, but this was a much more interesting and exciting read for me. I would consider this a great read for those out there that like the historical type romances, but don¿t think that it is a novel that will transport you back into that time period with the spoken words, but the details and events are meticulously planned out and that made it very enjoyable. 4.5 Hearts
Anonymous 7 months ago
This one really keeps your interest. Egyptian history with a little bit of romance.
jo-jo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was thrilled to travel back to ancient Egypt with Moran leading the way in this beautiful novel. Nefertari is the narrator in this novel and since her aunt, Nefertiti, was known as the infamous heretic queen, her future in the kingdom is questionable. It is a joy to watch Nefertari develop from the carefree tomboy she once was, into the respectable woman she becomes.We learn early on in the novel that Nefertari's mother died in childbirth. We see how lonely life has been for this young girl, growing up in a royal court without any family left, and very few friends. The current Pharoah does not discount thE fact of Nefertari's royalty, so even though she comes from a line of heretics, she still is allowed to use the title of Princess.When Nefertari catches the eye of the young Pharoah, the royal court hesitantly accepts her as a wife, while the people of Egypt take a bit longer to acknowledge her favorably. The people cannot forget that Nefertari is a descendant of the heretic queen, and they feel that if Nefertari is given power, she will lead their country down the wrong path.Moran did a beautiful job of depicting the time and place for me, allowing me to create vivid and lucid pictures in my mind. Greed and power were desired just as much in ancient Egypt as it is in our society today. All the ladies in my book group loved this novel and is one of the only books that we all gave it the highest possible rating. With themes of love, power, royalty, this is a book that I highly recommend for both personal leisure and book club discussions.
BookAddictDiary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ancient historical fiction master Michelle Moran returns with a wonderful new novel about the little-explored Neferati, a princess from an ancient lost civilization.Branded as a heretic due to her lineage, Neferati must find a way to continue surviving and take power through her connections with court influencers, the famous soon-to-be pharaoh Ramses and her own wits. Despite the public dislike of her and her supposed heretical ways, Neferati fights her way into Ramses' affections and confidence, and eventually becomes the pharaoh's chief wife and mother to his heirs. But when things take a turn for the worse, Neferati must fight against the ghosts of her ancestors and the politics of the Egyptian court to protect herself and her throne.Moran brings her masterful hand to this compelling and vivid story. The depictions of ancient Egypt, Thebes and other ancient icons are luscious and believable, and even though I'm not an expert on ancient history, the history feel well-researched, accurate and makes sense. Aside from the setting, the real jewel of this novel is the characters, especially Neferati. She is drawn as a realistic character with intelligence drive and wit to utilize her surroundings to her advantage, even with the Egyptian limitations on women. I was frantically flipping pages to see what happened next in her thrilling saga.A wonderful offering from Moran that's a wonderful addition to the ancient historical fiction genre and is sure to convert readers to these types of novels.
ojos11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Awesome. Love the stories, all the turns it takes for Nefertitti to become queen and specially her relationship with Woserit.
bolgai on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nefertari has a shadow hanging over her wherever she goes - she is the niece of the hated heretic Nefertiti, the spare princess allowed to live in the palace but mistrusted by almost everybody. If she wants to marry the love of her life, Ramesses, become queen and ensure her family is eternally remembered she must make the people of Egypt embrace her for who she is and forgive her family's past. But will Nefertari's enemies let that happen? Beginning Moran's second novel I wondered if she would be able to repeat the magic of Nefertiti and give us a different book at the same time. I hoped she would and fortunately she did. Reading the first chapter of this book is like stepping through a gateway between time and place and ending up in ancient Egypt, not a foreigner to whom everything is explained but an observer who doesn't require any special treatment. This is one of the reasons I like Moran's books - there's no explaining. She knows that the readers will make intuitive leaps, they'll understand things from context and there's no need to document every breath. Nefertati is a very interesting character in that her struggle for a place in the royal dynasty happens when she's not even 17 years old but she is no longer a child. She is intelligent, honest, hard-working, loyal and admirably courageous. She makes difficult decisions and she doesn't complain when things are hard. It would be so easy for her to become bitter and angry when everybody seems to be against her, when her enemies are too strong and dangerous and when the people won't accept her but she retains her kindness and compassion and keeps going, becoming only more determined as she moves towards her goals. The secondary characters are very interesting as well and I grew fond of Nefertari's friends and teachers. They are kind but don't let things go to her head and they complement her very nicely. One might argue that the characters are too one-dimensional in their being either good or evil but somehow they never feel that way. There's always humanity in Iset, Rahotep and even Henuttawi while Merit, Paser and Woserit have their own demons to fight. You just know that things aren't all that simple. I really enjoyed watching the relationship between Nefertari and Ramesses unfold. They started out as friends, then fell in love and married and theirs was a true partnership of two like minds working to achieve the same goals. Things weren't easy for them but they were in it together and reading about them was so pleasant, especially when outside of their chambers the court was so full of intrigue and deceit. The court intrigues are really the only thing that soured the experience for me (I don't like the politics that come with life at the very top) but without it all the story wouldn't have been realistic so I suppose we couldn't have done without them. One of my favorite messages in this book is that intelligence is more valuable than the most dazzling good looks. As Nefertari said "Her beauty might fascinate men, but it was difficult to charm them when she stood mute..." I think that in today's culture that's all about beauty and youth we often forget that a pretty face isn't everything.If you like a well-written historical novel that's told in a clear, simple and warm voice but is never dull I think you'll enjoy this book.
christi.lenz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It gave me a whole new perspective of this time period in history.
jedisakora on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Brilliant: adjective. to sparkle, glitter, bright, beam, luminous, this book. This book was everything and above. Again Michelle Moran writes a book which transports you to another time in history and it feels so real that you don't want to leave. You just want to break the time machine and yell "press on young man/woman". Then when you get to the very last page you feel a great deal of sadness for a loss you don't understand. I felt this way at the end of "Nefertiti", but was comforted by the fact there was a sequel in place. Unfortunately this time around there is no such book. Michelle tells us the story of Nefertari in "The Heretic Queen" started at the tender age of 6. Why this age. Because the book is as much as a romance as a coming of age and in parts action adventure. At the age of 6 Nefertari has her first real memory of the man she would love all her life "Rameses II". We then get a fast forward to Nefertari age 13 and Rameses the great coronation as co-regent of Egypt. We also learn that things aren't all rosey for Princess Nefertari. She is always associated with the "Heretics" and her family name has been wiped clean from Egyptian record. On her mother, Queen Mutnodjmet, who was briefly married to Pharaoh Horemheb name has been left in tact. It is on this day we learn that Nefertari's love for the young prince and her willingness to do whatever it takes to be his wife. Along we way she runs into quite a few obstacles and grows into herself. She finds that her desire become Rameses chief wife is much more than her love for him. She must do it for herself as well. As i mentioned before i loved this book. It's one of those books you run into every once in awhile that screams perfection in every which way that you can't put it down. Literally. So you find yourself finishing it in one day. There really isn't much more i can say except that if "Nefetiti" stoked my Egyptian obsession this one fanned the flames. I'm now on a hunt to read each and every book that takes place in ancient Egypt.5 stars. Bravo Michelle Moran. Bravo!
pricelessreads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
More or less a sequel to Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen is another wonderful piece of historical fiction about the Queens of Egypt. This time told as a first person account from the aspiring Queen, the main character is well developed and easy to identify with. The story is filled with jealousy, trickery, politics, and love.
bridget3420 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nefertari is the sole surviving member of the royal family when the palace goes up in flames. Her family was viewed as heretics and she was quickly overlooked. She had the opportunity to roam the palace and do as she pleased. When her aunt, Nefertiti visits the palace and decides to teach her about a queen's duty, Nefertari's life is forever altered.I love to read about strong woman who not afraid to stand up when the time is right. This was a fantastic novel! Michelle, you rock!
butterflybaby on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a good book. I read it right after Nefertiti. I couldn't put it down, it was a compulsive read. Moran delivered strong female characters. And a believable back story. This is a book I would recommend for book groups or for solitary readers.
thisismebecca on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have been reading all over about how great Michelle Moran's books are and what a great writer she is. Well, I have finally experienced Moran's writing and storytelling and I have to agree with the crowd- I love her!The Heretic Queen is Moran's second book (after Nefertiti) and is about Nefertari, the niece of Nefertiti (at least she is the niece in the book, historians are not sure how they are related, just that they are and could be aunt/niece.) Nefertari's family was the Eighteenth Dynasty in Egypt. But her family has been branded as heretical and Nefertari, the only surviving member, is discarded as an unimportant princess.However, Nefertari and Ramesses II are childhood friends and after Ramesses becomes the Crown Prince, Nefertari catches his eye and he makes her his second wife. But all of Egypt is against the union and there are those who will conspire and plot to keep Nefertari from becoming Chief Wife and the Queen.Moran's storytelling sucked me in immediately. I cared about Nefertari from the first paragraph. I rooted for her throughout the entire book and despised her enemies. I grieved with her losses and cheered for her triumphs. Moran stays as true to history as she can and some of the most fantastical parts of the book are actually true events!I loved the way Nefertari was such a strong female and how she used her talent for languages to become useful to Ramesses. She intercepts spies, decodes letters that are intercepted, and on top of that she is the practicality and level-headedness that the rash Ramesses needs to balance him. I loved the story of Nefertari and Ramesses love. I loved the way Moran writes that he called her "Nefer" and how he would beam with pride at the way Nefertari proves herself to be useful and deserving of the title of Queen.I liked learning about ancient Egyptian rituals, rules, laws, and etiquette. I liked learning about the tombs, the Feast of Wag, the temples, the people. I loved the character of Merit, who is Nefertari's nurse/assistant. She has spunk and loyalty. I liked knowing Ramesses had red hair. I didn't realize Egypt had people with red hair. I liked learning about the birthing pavilion and the funeral rites and how the Audience Chamber routines went (the Audience Chamber is where they would give audience to people with petitions and make decisions on those petitions.)I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Heretic Queen and will no doubt read it again.
OregonKimm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It makes sense to post my thoughts on these two books together for a couple of reasons. First, they are companion books. The Heretic Queen is not a sequel, but it holds your attention more after you¿ve read Nefertiti. After all, you are guaranteed a better understanding of the back story to Nefertari¿s family. Second, since I read these books back to back, umm¿actually, couldn¿t put them down¿was quite forced to keep reading¿umm¿it made more sense to discuss them as a whole.Michelle Moran is incredible. I don¿t know exactly how to describe reading one of her books, but it made me so happy that I glowed for days. I walked around the office (ugh, yes..had to still work) and raved about these books to everyone. Moran is blessed with skill. The dialogue had just the right tone, there wasn¿t a single unnecessary scene, and it all fit just as it should have. Seriously, she really got it right with these books.There was one odd piece of the book that stuck out for me. Coincidentally, it was also mentioned by a co-worker of mine. The two of us love the political drama of the Tudor-era. Although Moran¿s books are set in ancient Egypt, the political play of the time felt written just as if one were reading about the Boleyn sisters (just an example). (How unusual that we both thought to comment about it.) This is not a criticism, but rather a complement, For me, it made the story even more captivating. I really can¿t stress how much I enjoyed these books. I highly recommend them and I am certainly looking forward to reading Moran¿s third book, Cleopatra¿s Daughter. I¿ve heard great things about it as well!
jjameli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Heretic Queen is the story of Ramesses the Great, and Nerfertari. There is a bit of everything in this novel, murder, betrayal, seduction, love. The love of Ramesses and Nerfertari is touching and real, the deepness that I felt there was between them is all credited to Michelle Moran. She wrote such a great story, and I felt every word. She really did her research, and gained another fan. I actually teared up while reading the Historical Note at the end of the book.