October 16th, 2008
The Heretic Queen
is another great novel by Michelle Moran-definitely historical fiction at its best! Again, we visit Ancient Egypt and are taken back to this distant land in the past in a wonderful way. I first read Nefertiti(my review here
), Michelle’s first book and although it’s not necessary; The Heretic Queen does stand alone quite nicely, I am glad I did. I had some of the background and history and I found it enriched The Heretic Queen even more for me.
This time we are introduced to Nefertari who is actually Nefertiti’s neice and she takes us through this novel. She is Mutny’s daughter and as her mother was my favorite character in Nefertiti, her daughter is in this novel. Nefertari is left an orphan in the palace after her mother died in childbirth and the rest of her family died in a tragic fire. She is basically left on her own to run wild in the palace; even though she is a princess she is all but forgotten. Soon though, the Pharaoh’s aunt Woserit decides to take over Nefertari’s rise to being a woman befitting of the title Queen. She trains her to play the harp and teaches her the manners she will need-she takes her from a young girl into a woman. Nefertari is very intelligent too-she has mastered many languages, isn’t afraid to speak her mind and is even brave enough to go to war with Ramesses.
The problem-she is the neice of Nefertiti-branded a heretic in history. Of course, the people believe the same of Nefertari. When she and Ramesses fall in love and want to be married, the people are vehemently opposed and even more opposed to her being named Chief Wife and Queen. There are uprisings and several terrifying instances that Nefertari has to deal with. She overcomes though-with her braveness people begin to call her the Warrior Queen and begin to have a new respect for her and the path to acceptance begins.
Nefertari and Ramesses together are amazing and powerful as they go from falling in love, to marrying, to having children and then on to fighting wars together. They were friends from children and their friendship and love only grew stronger as the novel moves on.
This novel is part history, part fiction and even romance thrown in-it’s great. Some of my favorite things are the vivid descriptions that Michelle portrays throughout the book. The bed chambers, temples, clothes, makeup-down to the beads threaded through the wigs, come alive in this novel. The mortuary temples that are built that have scenes on all the walls sound fascinating. I can only imagine how beautiful all these sculptures and scenes were. Another thing I found intriguing is all the Gods and Goddesses that they worshipped. They had different ones for so many things and their belief in them was unshakeable.
Another thing I loved that Michelle did with this book was put in a calendar which tells us the seasons, months, festivals and the dates in which they all occured. Along with this she also put in a glossary which I loved. Many of these words are unfamiliar to us and this was more than helpful. I even have a few favorite words to share with you all:
- ‘Akhu: A person’s ancestors; an immortal soul.’
- ‘Ka: A person’s spirit or soul, which was created at the time of one’s birth.’
- ‘Ma’at: The goddess of justice and truth, Ma’at was often depicted as a woman with wings (or a woman wearing a crown with one feather). During the Afterlife, a person’s heart would be weighed against one of her feathers to determine whether they were worthy of passing into the Blessed Land. The word Ma’at came to stand for the principles of justice, order, and propriety that every Egyptian was responsible for upholding.’
A great book and definitely one that comes highly recommended by me. I already miss the characters as once again Michelle draws us so completely into their lives that we are a little lost once we are no longer with them in the story. You can visit Michelle Moran’s website here and her blog here.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars…there will be a guest post, a Q&A and ooopps I’ll give it away-a giveaway sometime next week courtesy of Michelle Moran.
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