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.”
About 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.
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.”
Reading Group Guide
1. Thousands of years after the Pharaohs ruled Egypt, this ancient civilization continues to fascinate the world. Were you drawn to Nefertiti by an interest in Egyptology? What aspects of Egyptian life are of interest to you?
2. History remembers Nefertiti as a great beauty. What other aspects of her personality are highlighted in Nefertiti? How does she use her stunning good looks to her advantage? How do they hurt her? Have you ever known a woman like Nefertiti? Overall, is this a positive portrayal of her as a queen? As a sister?
3. Is Mutnodjmet jealous of her sister? Is Nefertiti jealous of Mutny? How are the sisters different? What makes two people who are raised together turn out so differently? What do they have in common?
4. Nefertiti knows she must convince Amunhotep that she is more than his mother’s choice of bride. How does she do it? How does Kiya attempt to keep him? How do their powerful fathers make the rivalry between these two women worse?
5. How are Nefertiti and Kiya alike? What is the nature of the Pharaoh’s relationship with each? If you put his ambitions aside, which of them do you think Amunhotep loved more? Why does Nefertiti try so hard to outshine Kiya at every turn? Are her reasons personal or political?
6. What is your impression of Amunhotep? Do you think he was responsible for the death of his older brother? His father? Is he a tragic figure in Nefertiti or a villain?
7. General Nakhtmin is taken by Mutnodjmet from their first meeting, while she pretends to be uninterested in him. Why? What is the attraction between them? Why does Mutny deny it? What finally convinces her to admit her love for him?
8. Do you think Nefertiti’s father, Vizier Ay, was a wise man or was he a slave to his ambitions just as his daughter was? Do you think he asks for an unfair level of loyalty from Mutnodjmet? Does she disappoint him?
9. When the Elder dies, Amunhotep becomes Pharaoh of both Upper and Lower Egypt, meaning he is free to do as he wishes. Nefertiti is entitled to the dowager queen’s crown but doesn’t take it. What does she do instead? Why doesn’t Nefertiti demand this symbol of all she has worked to attain?
10. Why do Nefertiti and Amunhotep oppose Mutnodjmet’s marriage to the general? When Mutny lost her baby, did you think Nefertiti was to blame? How would a child of Nakhtmin and Mutnodjmet be a threat to the Pharaoh?
11. What effect does the intrigue, politics, and positioning of court life have on Nefertiti and Mutnodjmet’s relationship? What makes the sisters close? Would you say they are bound by love or obligation? Why does Nefertiti want to keep Mutny so close?
12. Unwilling to call on the army, Amunhotep makes a treaty with the Hittites. What is the result of this treaty? Why is Amunhotep so afraid of the army?
13. Desperate for a son, Nefertiti asks Mutnodjmet to take her to visit a shrine to Tawaret, the hippo goddess of birth. What does the fact that Nefertiti calls on the old gods in times of trouble say about her belief in Aten? Why does she ask her sister to pray for her? Considering how powerful the Egyptians considered their gods, do you think Nefertiti had any concerns about denying the gods to advance herself and her family?
14. Why does Nefertiti banish Mutnodjmet?
15. What does Mutnodjmet learn about herself when Ipu marries and takes a long journey away? How does this help her resolve any anger toward Nefertiti?
16. Nefertiti tells the Pharaoh that she dreamed the scheming Panahesi would be High Priest of Aten to get him out of her own father’s way. On page 386, Panahesi tries to use the same ruse to assure his grandson the throne. Is it a success?
17. How does declaring Nefertiti co-regent change Amunhotep’s position? What does this mean for Nefertiti? For her daughters and family? Is this the ultimate victory it appears to be?
18. When the plague comes to Amarna (page 404), Mutnodjmet decides to stay instead of leaving for the safety of Thebes. Why? What would you have done in her position?
19. What happens to Amunhotep? Do you think he deserved this fate? Does Nefertiti deserve what happens to her?
Nefertiti brings a fascinating chapter of Egyptian history to life. This reader’s guide is intended as a starting point for your discussion of this captivating story of two sisters, one of whom is destined to rule Egypt.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.
Summary: Mutnodjmet and her older half-sister Nefertiti have grown up close to power; their aunt is queen of Egypt, and their father is a powerful vizier. But they have plans that stretch even further, that involve marrying Nefertiti to Amunhotep IV, the co-regent and ruler of Lower Egypt. The beautiful Nefertiti has no problem turning Amunhotep's head, but to keep her place in his heart and in his kingdom, she must bear him a son, something that proves unexpectedly difficult. Meanwhile, the increasingly unstable Amunhotep has renounced the traditional gods, and made mandatory the worship of Aten, the sun, a heresy that does not sit well with his subjects. All Mutny wants is a simple life for herself, but how can she achieve that when her family stands poised on the brink, with the slightest chance of fate tipping them towards either eternal glory, or permanent scandal and ruin?Review: I really wanted to love this book. I loved Cleopatra's Daughter and Madame Tussaud, and all of the good things I'd heard about Nefertiti was the reason I even picked up Moran's books in the first place. I wanted to love it, but I sadly didn't.I did like it, for sure. Moran's got a real talent for making both historical places and historical people come to life, and that talent was on full display here. I was craving ancient Egypt when I started this book, and Moran delivers on that front. I'm used to books about ancient Egypt having a supernatural component to them (probably mostly Anne Rice's fault, although Jo Graham certainly contributed), so it took me a while to get my footing in Moran's vision of an Egypt where the people are concerned with the gods, but the gods aren't reciprocally concerned with the people. But once I did, it was easy to get lost amongst the statues and obelisks and open air markets and barges on the River Nile.The characterizations were also well-done, and not only the famous historical figures, but also the people surrounding them, were vivid and real. However, this may have ultimately worked against the novel, in terms of how much I enjoyed it. To explain: I absolutely bought the characterization of Nefertiti as vain and power-hungry and spoiled, but underneath terrified of being alone, unloved, and forgotten. She was believable, if not entirely relatable, and I understood her motivations even if I didn't always sympathize with them. But what I didn't understand is how everyone - notably Mutny - falls for the crap that Nefertiti is dishing out, time and again. (In her defense, Mutny does put up some resistance, but always seems to get sucked back in eventually.) Maybe I don't get it because I don't have a bossy older sister of my own, but I got tired of watching everyone let themselves constantly get pushed around in the name of family, and it kept me from getting too emotionally invested in the outcome. So, in short, it's a well-written book, and I enjoyed it, but my distaste for the main relationship dynamic kept me from loving it as much as I'd expected to. 4 out of 5 stars.Recommendation: If you're interested in ancient Egypt, particularly in putting some personalities and context behind the famous names and faces, Nefertiti is worth the read.
I had enjoyed Moran's book "Cleopatra's Daughter," but this book was absolutely excellent. I tore through it in one night, and then read nothing at all the next day, because the setting and characters of this book hadn't quite worn off yet.This is the story of Nefertiti, the wife of 18th Dynasty Ancient Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten, as told through the eyes of her sister Mutnodjmet. Akhenaten's reign was one of the most notorious and controversial of the old Egyptian kingdom, as he replaced the traditional gods with only one god, Aten. I knew the basics of his story, but this book very much brought the situation to life. I have always found Akhenaten interesting. In his time, the practice of monotheism, or worshiping only one god, was not popular. He also insisted that art depicting him and Nefertiti strive to portray how they really looked, rather than the cookie-cutter faces every pharaoh had etched on walls. Also, unheard of. His reign caused a lot of upset in Egypt, but in many ways he was a revolutionary man with great, new ideas.This book portrays him to be not necessarily evil, but certainly selfish, arrogant, and at times weak.Nefertiti was absolutely fascinating here. Clever, ambitious, scheming, ruthless, and of course, drop dead gorgeous. While this type of character could easily have fallen into the cliche category in the hands of another author, Moran executes it flawlessly. Nefertiti becomes a living, breathing character here that I both loved and hated. The main character, Mutny, is the younger sister of the queen. Even though it is her narrating the story, she isn't quite as memorable as her sister, but the author still builds a strong character for her as well. Mutny had a sad story, and I became very attached to her. By the end, I was aching for everything to work out for her.This book is impossible to put down with its constant plots and court intrigue, scheming queens and shifting loyalties. The dazzling, exotic world of Ancient Egypt is brought powerfully to life.I was very impressed with this book, and I can't wait to read more by Michelle Moran. Highly recommended!
I absolutely loved this novel as I was swept away to ancient Egypt in this beautifully crafted story by Michelle Moran. I really do not have much knowledge of Egyptian history so it was fascinating to learn some of the practices and religious customs that were held with such a sacred esteem.Nefertiti and Mutnodjmet are as different as two sisters could ever be. They do have different mothers and since Nefertiti does come from a line of royalty she is groomed at an early age to hopefully become queen of Egypt some day. Mutnodjmet definitely does not have quite as glorious of a future ahead of her, but she does know she wants more out of life besides catering to her older sister's every whim.Everything seems to be working according to the plan that has been devised by Nefertiti and her father. The Prince of Egypt has chosen Nefertiti as his wife, and although he is already married to a woman named Kiya, it will be impossible for Kiya to ever become queen. Nefertiti just needs to strengthen her relationship with her new husband and make him realize that she will support all of his decisions. Before too long, the young prince is crowned the Pharoah of Egypt and Nefertiti is ruling by his side. Together they will make changes that will devastate the stronghold of Egypt.As Nefertiti becomes more powerful by her husband's side, the people seem to respect her more than her husband the Pharoah. She uses her power to try to force her sister to stay near her for comfort and companionship. But when Mutnodjmet finally falls in love she must decide whether it is more important to obey her sister or follow her heart to be with the man that she loves.I loved this story that was full of ancient power, intrigue, love and destiny. I read this novel with my book club and all of the ladies enjoyed it so I don't hesitate in highly recommending this book for personal entertainment or as a book club selection.
The greatest queen? Certainly the greatest spoiled brat. I suppose given my almost visceral reaction to Nefertiti it has to mean that the book could not have been that bad.The book tells the story of Nefertiti's meteoric rise to the position of Egypts best known queen (and Egypt's abandonment of Amun in favour of the Aten, under Akenaten's rule), as seen from the eye of her sister, Mutnojmet. If, by the end of the book, your heart is not /bleeding/ for Mutny, then I would be very surprised. She's treated apaulingly by her self centred sister, and as the true obedient daughter, puts up with it for the sake of her family's position at court for a good two thirds of the book. Even when she finally gets 'free' of her sister's tyrrany, she's not truly free. Her fate is still bound up with that of Egypt's queen's.While I ended up wanting to put Nefertiti across my knee and spank her, I did, in the end, enjoy the book. Not one for strict scholars of history, but a good enough, entertaining story. The writing style is easy enough, without losing any of the engagement, and where historical facts have been 'moulded' to fit the necessities of the story, though anyone with a knowledge of the history will spot these points, it's also easy to see why they have been written as they have. It doesn't detract too much from the story. It's not one of the best written books I've ever read, but it's not one of the worst either.
Such an intriguing look into the times of ancient Egypt. We wonder why civilizations collapsed when we put 17 year old people in charge of entire nations? Loved it.
This book, was amazing. Every detail seemed to come alive, as I felt I truly was in Ancient Egypt. This book kept me guessing the whole time. I could even feel, the emotions the Mutnodjmet had been feeling, anytime after something traumatic in the book had happened, the rest of my day would be ruined for I was so wrapped up in the story, and had forgotten that, Mutny's life, was not my life. I feel that, you really get to know the characters, as if some were your best friends that you've known your entire life, and some were your worst enemies. I would definitely recommend this book to EVERYONE, it by far is one of the best books I have ever read. Nefertiti's story, should be one that is told for ages.
In the course of reading this book i've received two work reviews, got addicted to "glee" and lost my only little boy bunny Brighton. Funny enough these events somehow coincided with certain events in the book which made reading this book rather interesting. It is true that i took a long time reading this book. This wasn't from lack on interest. In fact it was the complete opposite. I was so enthralled with it that i wanted to pace it out longer.Every once in awhile you come upon a book unexpectedly and they change your whole reading habits. This happened with Jane Austen and my love of classics, Summer at Castle Auburn and love of medievals, Harry Potter and magic, and the jedi apprentice with science fiction. "Nefertiti" brought on a urging to read more historical fiction. It also has brought on a small Egyptian obsession. I was always interested in Egypt, but this book made me want to know more. Michelle Moran crafted such a beautiful and compelling story that i felt like i was there with Mutnodjmet. I felt her loses, anger, and sadness. It was almost like losing a friend when i finished the book. The last time i felt that sadness was when the Harry Potter series finished. It also left me with a hunger to read more. I hadn't even finished the first 100 pages before i had gone out and bought the sequel. Along with any other Michelle Moran books i could get my hands on. The book title may be called "Nefertiti", but the story is really about Mutnodjmet. A historical figure i never knew existed till reading the book. Mut character is one that you can't help rooting for. Being the younger sister of the Queen of Egypt couldn't have been easy and Michelle portrays this quite clearly. Yet she still adored her older sister. You follow her through her ups and downs and ups again. The best thing to do is not to read historical record though. If you follow through with history things could get a bit confusing. Based on history you almost with Mut's story was real since it clear she had a happier fate in "Nefertiti" than possibly in real life. "Nefertiti" was an interesting take on a highly unusual Egyptian time and family. It was a time of change and just as Mut and Nefertiti was changing the whole Egyptian world was changing with them. It was an extremely enjoyable read and one i would highly recommended to everyone. I merely picked up this book in passing because the cover intrigued me and i'm extremely glad i did. Final rating. 5 stars for perfection.
I enjoyed this story as well and learned a lot about this time period in histroy.
If you are to believe what the viziers say, then Amunhotep killed his brother for the crown of Egypt. [opening sentence]Nefertiti by Michelle MoranThree Rivers Press, 2007Fiction (Historical); 466 pgsIn high school, I found my World Civilization class a bore. I was much more interested in U.S. history. I think it was more a case of too much information crammed into a short period of time that turned me off of the more general and ancient history lesson than it was the actual material itself. Adulthood has found me craving periods in history that I once cared so little about.I first saw mention of Michelle Moran¿s novel, Nefertiti, on a blog, which one exactly I cannot recall. The title alone was enough to make me curious. I knew very little about Nefertiti, however, her name is one I associate with a strong female figure in history. Onto my wish list it went. I was thrilled when the author contacted me to ask if I would be interested in reading and reviewing her book, which recently was released in paperback.This is the story of Nefertiti, but more so the story of her younger half sister, Mutnodjmet, with the cat like eyes. It is the story of their family and their rise to power, a climb that proved difficult and harrowing in more ways than one. With the death of the favored son of the Elder Pharaoh, came the crowning of Amunhotep, a prince whose ideas and beliefs struck fear in his family and others in power. Amunhotep was a visionary, a poet and a man who was hungry for power and control. He despised the soldiers and the rule of his father. He worshiped Aten, a minor god representing the sun, and repudiated Amun, the god of his people. Amunhotep wanted to build temples at the risk of forsaking the land his forefathers had fought to gain and protect. He wanted to be loved by the people and known for eternity.It was the hope of Amunhotep¿s mother that by marrying him to the daughter of her brother, she could rein her wayward son in. Nefertiti seemed the perfect person for the job. Her strength would be a force to reckon with and her beauty would sway any prince. As Chief Wife to the Pharaoh, Nefertiti proved to be his match. Her ambition and cunning were an equal match to her husband¿s own ambition as well as his passion. Nefertiti had her work cut out for her, holding on to the heart of the Pharaoh and steering him in her direction so that she could maintain her hold on him in hopes of keeping her family in a position of strength and power. The Pharaoh¿s first wife had her own plans, meanwhile, and she and her father would do whatever they could to try and turn the Pharaoh¿s favor in their direction.Forever in her sister¿s shadow, Mutnodjmet, was a more practical woman. She was known for her honesty and served as an anchor to Nefertiti. Mutny did not seek the crown as did her sister. She was loyal to her family; however, she also sought peace in her own life which did not always coincide with the life of royalty. Whereas Nefertiti sought power and the love of the people, Mutny desired her garden and her own family.Do you know how some characters reach out to you from a book and grab hold of your heart? Mutny was like that for me. I instantly bonded with her. She was a wise old soul in a young woman¿s body. She had a good heart and an intelligence about her that instantly attracted me to her character. I was not so keen on her sister Nefertiti, who at times came across as spoiled and selfish. Yet, Nefertiti was very intelligent and, despite her flaws, was much more than she seemed. There was also a vulnerability to Nefertiti. While she wanted the world to see her as a woman who could accomplish all on her own, she needed the strength of her family, in particular that of her sister. The bond between the two sisters was strong and despite the aggravation that Mutny felt at always having to come to her sister¿s side, Mutny loved her sister and was devoted to her family, willing to do what she thought was needed to ensure their we
This is the second Nefertiti book I have read this year. It is certainly the better written one, but it also has some major problems, and is perhaps less honest than Nick Drake's book.The writing is wonderful. Its smooth and flowing and it sucks you right in. The story is about Nefertiti, the wife and Queen of Ahkenaten, the heretic Pharaoh who throws down Egypt's many gods, and introduces monotheism. He also ignores the running of the country, the defense of its territories and the needs of the common people. He ends up reviled and hated. His body has never been found*, and there is no record of his death. The story is told from the POV of Nefertiti's half sister Mutnodjmet. It should be stated that this is not historical fiction, it is fictionalized history. These are real people, and there are real events here. The fictionalized part is coloring in the details of the events and the words, actions, reasons and emotions of those involved. Moran does a good job of presenting her interpretations, and story. It just that to me it isn't all that worthwhile in the long run.The problems for me have to do with her portrayals of the main characters. The good ones, Mutny, are squeaky clean, and always do the right thing. The bad ones, have no redeeming qualities and always do bad things. By the middle of the book it seems that you are back in high school with the constant cult of self-absorption, the emotional volatility, the inability to see the larger picture, and the focus on minor issues that become blown out of proportion. There are no shades or depth to most of the people in the book. They are one thing, and have one job to do on stage, and they do it. Moran tries to explain why Nefertiti behaves as she does, but it is little more than scattering pixie dust. Nefertiti never becomes a complex character, and Mutny has been assigned the role of 'simple' and 'honest'.The main story develops into Nefertiti's rivalry with Kia, a secondary wife. It tires you out and bores you. You have all this wonderful history all around, and you are stuck with Nefertiti while she sulks over which piece of jewelry to wear to make Kia look bad. And it goes on like that for pages and pages. Sort of The USA Today/MTV version of how people in history behaved. Think the HBO series The Tudors, but set in ancient Egypt.Finally Mutny is the opposite of Nefertiti and they end up becoming estranged 2/3 of the way into the story. Because she is the POV we go with Mutny to watch her normal life. As a depiction of everyday life its fine, but the action is back in Amarna. When Mutny finally returns it is the end of the reign. One of the major mysteries is what happened, yet because of the way the novel was structured it is rushed into 100 pages. In fact she makes up the ending, because there really isn't much actual fact. She has taken the tidy route, where disease carries most off. She has also condensed the time line, so his daughters are all still young children. It side-steps the discomforting (for us) option where they believe Ahkenaten marries his two eldest daughters and start producing children (3, all girls), which results eventually in the death of one of the daughters. Moran doesn't deal with disappearance with Nefertiti at all, she simply has her change her name (Smenkhare) and become a co-Pharaoh. Ignoring the fact that Meritaten becomes the chief wife in Nefertiti's place (paintings), and that the family is never depicted as complete, after Neferiti's disappearance (no depictions with the 2 pharaohs and their children).It isn't a terrible book, but for me it seems a bit tawdry and dishonest, and it could have been so much more. Moran also never really explains why Akhenaten is the way he is, or why he gets worse. We are just supposed to believe he is nuts, and nothing is done with any kind of modern interpretation of mental illness. He is crazy and that is used as the boogy man to scare ancient and mod