Format: Hardcover, 480pp
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Nefertiti tells the story of a powerful woman's rise and fall in Ancient Egypt. Through the eyes of her younger sister, Mutnodjmet, we are introduced to a young Nefertiti, destined to one day become a powerful ruler. Beautiful beyond compare and power-hungry, Nefertiti is a fascinating character. As the pages turn her actions become more outrageous and you begin to realize that power is everything and whoever controls the throne has the power.
Nefertiti marries Prince Akhenaten, who has come into line for the throne with the suspicious death of his older brother. Akhenaten is a reckless unstable young man and Nefertiti is chosen by his mother to sway Akhenaten away from some of his more disastrous views. He believes that there should only be one god in Egypt and that the Pharaoh should be his only voice, not some priests in a temple. Suspicious of everyone, including his parents, Akhenaten is determined to alter Egypt’s destiny.
But while both his parents are still alive he does not have complete control of Egypt, even though he is crowed Pharaoh. His father is referred to as the Elder and only once he has passed away does Akhenaten come fully into power. Bitter with life and paranoid beyond reason, Akhenaten moves his court into the middle of the desert to build a new capital and a new city in the glory of his one god Aten.
Nefertiti is meant to be a balancing influence for Akhenaten while being susceptible to the voices of her vizier father and the Queen. But determined to have her name known for all eternity, Nefertiti is soon blind to the folly that her husband presents as she struggles to gain as much control as she can over the thrones of Egypt.
Mutnodjmet meanwhile is trapped in the role of being the sister of Nefertiti. All her life her family has done everything and anything to please Nefertiti because she is the link to their own immortality. But as Nefertiti becomes blind in her arrogance to the problems that are slowly building with the Egyptian people, Mutnodjmet is able to make a break for freedom.
Full of palace intrigues, court banter, and struggles for power, Nefertiti really comes alive on the page. The characters are well rounded, three dimensional beings and you are pulled into their lives from the first sentence on. With each new turn in the story your heart will rise and fall with Mutnodjmet as she tries to be a voice of reason for her sister while still living a life of her own.
Nefertiti is a powerful first novel from Michelle Moran. Well written and rich with details it is hard to put down once you start reading. I can only hope that her next book will be about Ancient Egypt as well; it is a place I long to go back to.