Told by Mutnodjmet, the younger of the half-sisters, this is the story of how the 15-year-old Nefertiti becomes not only Queen of Egypt but Pharaoh, reigning as co-regent with her husband Amunhotep IV. Both girls have been raised in a powerful family and are the nieces of Queen Tiye – wife of Amunhotep III – referred to as the Elder. Nefertiti is the queen’s choice for her son as it is hoped her strong personality will keep her future husband’s heretical desires in check.
Nefertiti is ambitious and sees herself as more than just one of the Pharaoh’s wives. Since Amunhotep IV (also known as Akenhaten) already has a First Wife who is with child, Nefertiti does whatever she must to become the Pharaoh’s Chief Wife. She even does the unheard of thing: sharing a sleeping chamber with her husband.
As time passes, Nefertiti goes along with her husband’s plans to abandon the gods of Egypt and set up a new capital city in honor of Aten – a lesser known god. Both Nefertiti and her husband begin to believe that they are gods themselves. Behind the scenes, of course, she works for the betterment of all of Eqypt. She soon becomes beloved by the people although she is blind to the machinations of the priests of the disposed gods – they are plotting not only against Akenhaten but against Nefertiti as well. While she provides her husband with six daughters, she is unable to produce a son and heir; First Wife Kiya gives Akenhaten two sons – one of them being Tutankamun.
All good things must end and so too does the reign of Nefertiti who outlives her husband. Having lost several of her children to the black plague, she literally reveres her two remaining daughters. But in the end the plotting priests win. Or do they? Would history have been different if Nefertiti had lived to an old age?
Mutnodjmet, also known fondly at Mutny, is the quiet sister. A healer, a confidante, a source of calm, she is the only one who tells her sister the truth. It is she, Mutny, who will continue to raise the one remaining child of Akenhaten, his son Tutankamun.
This story held me captive from the first page. A well-researched account of the period of Nefertiti, it drew me in to the sweeping vistas of Thebes and the Nile River while cocooning me with the soft silky sands of the surrounding desert. Vivid detail of life in this era brought the story to life.
Not being a student of Egyptian culture, I learned quite a bit of the story of Eqyptian culture from reading Nefertiti. I am now ready to read the next book in the series – Heretic Queen.
Five solid stars for this wonderful excursion into history.
Rating: 5 stars
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