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Nefertiti by Michelle Moran


by Michelle Moran

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Told from Nefertiti's younger sister's point of view, it is the mid-1300s BCE in Egypt. Nefertiti was married at 15-years old to the next Pharaoh of Egypt, Amunhotep. Between the two of them, they became greedy and ambitious; not only that, Amunhotep insisted on worshipping only one god, a god most Egyptians had never heard of: Aten, the sun. This caused a lot of unrest in Egypt while he and Nefertiti ruled. In the meantime, Mutny, Nefertiti's sister, only wanted to live a quiet life away from court politics, tending to a herb garden and helping people. But Nefertiti, always afraid of being alone, didn't want to let her sister go.

I really enjoyed this. Not as much as Cleopatra's Daughter, but I really seem to like her writing style. Once again, this is a time and place I don't know much, if anything beyond names, about, so it was interesting to read about these people and the culture of the time. ( )
  LibraryCin | Jul 5, 2019 |
LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! Love this book. This book makes me want to learn more about the families and the blood lines. It really is a wonderful book. You want to read it from beginning to end in one sitting. Wonderful author. ( )
  LVStrongPuff | Nov 29, 2018 |
Great Historical fiction novel! Totally sucks you into the world and makes you invested in the characters. ( )
  Monica_P | Nov 22, 2018 |
I found myself engrossed in this story. Completed most of it via audiobook (the voiceover perfectly suited for the character). Historical truth or not, I was immersed in the life of Nefertiti's sister and felt the author portrayed a beautiful imaginative story from the sister's viewpoint that was both believable and engaging. ( )
  jakohnen | Sep 13, 2018 |
Forgive me the initial essay. Another historical novel about the Amarna period. American Egyptologist James Henry Breasted called Akhenaten “the first individual in history”. Other Egyptian Pharaohs were portrayed in stylized poses, with their wives and families stiffly standing by their sides – often miniaturized if they appeared at all. Akhenaten and glamorous Nefertiti appear together in happy family scenes, kissing and playing with their children – in short, acting in ways moderns can identify with.

There’s not much actually known; I read somewhere that all the ancient inscriptions relating to Akhenaten and Nefertiti, if transcribed to English, wouldn’t amount to more than two typewritten pages. He inherited the throne from his father Amenhotep III – possibly after a coregency – and briefly was Amenhotep IV before changing his name to Akhenaten and moving the Egyptian capital from Waset (Thebes in Greek time, Luxor now) to a new city, Akhetaten. He worshipped the Aten – the visible disk of the sun – at the expense of the old gods of Egypt. He and Nefertiti produced six daughters. He had a secondary wife, Kiya, who may also have borne him a daughter. He seems to devoted most of his time to Aten worship, possibly neglecting diplomatic relations. He might have married his own daughter, Meritaten. At the end of his reign, things become confused; there might have been a disease outbreak in Akhetaten. He was succeeded by Neferneferuaten and Smenkhkare – exact order uncertain – and possibly one or more additional ephemeral pharaohs; any of these may have been Nefertiti or Meritaten. Eventually the throne went to Tutankhamun, worship of the old gods was restored, and the capital moved back to Waset. This allows historical novelists a great deal of room for speculation – and they use it. Just counting ones I’ve read myself: in Mika Waltari’s The Egyptian Akhenaten is gentle and otherworldly; in Linda Robinson’s Lord Meren mystery series, he’s a psychopath religious fanatic; in Bill Cherf’s Manuscripts of the Richards’ Trust series, he’s a space alien; in J. Lynn Else’s The Forgotten he’s complicated, sometimes cruel, sometimes not; and in Michelle Moran’s Nefertiti he’s back to being a psychopath religious fanatic.

As the title implies, Nefertiti is about her, not Akhenaten directly; however, the point-of-view character is actually Nefertiti’s sister Mutnodjmet. Moran uses some of the Egyptological speculation; for example, her Nefertiti is the daughter of Ay, an important official during the reigns of Amenhotep III, Akhenaten, and Tutankhamen, and eventually briefly Pharaoh himself. This relationship has been considered possible but unlikely by Egyptologists. Moran has Akhenaten allow the Hittites to encroach on the Egyptian empire in the Levant by conquering various Egyptian client states; in fact, it was one of the city states, Amurru, that did the conquering – possibly under Hittite influence, but possibly as an exercise in Realpolitik by the Egyptians, who may have felt better off with a single client state between them and the Hittites rather than a bunch of squabbling little ones. As far as Akhenaten being a dangerous psychopath goes, Egyptologist Barry Kemp has been conducting excavations at Amarna/Akhetaten for years and has recently excavated some commoners’ cemeteries. Many of the bodies showed evidence of hard physical labor, many had died young, and many had wounds – spear or arrow – in the back. Life in Akhetaten seems to have been nasty, brutish, and short.

So, what do I think of Nefertiti? Well, perhaps surprisingly given the above, I found it enjoyable; Outlander series author Diana Gabaldon provided the cover blurb “Compulsively readable” and I suppose I agree. There isn’t much of a “look and feel” of ancient Egypt; Moran mixes in a few ancient Egyptian words: miw for cat and mawat for mother; she uses the Greek words Thebes and Memphis instead of the Egyptian Waset and Mennefer (but apologizes for that in her Afterword). Nefertiti and Mutnodjmet sometimes seem more like modern sitcom teenagers, frequently squabbling but loyal to each other at heart. In fact, family loyalty is a main theme, with the characters often acting out of family interest rather than their own. Moran has Nefertiti married at fifteen and having her first daughter at sixteen, probably more or less accurate; you didn’t waste time back then. The girls worry about clothes and makeup and jewelry; again, not unreasonably, although having them appear in public in gowns exposing their breasts is probably not authentic. Moran seems to have read Joann Fletcher (The Search for Nefertiti), who argued that the mummy known as KV35YL is Nefertiti, since Moran’s Nefertiti has doubly pierced ears like KV35YL (there’s a couple of other things I can’t mention because they would be spoilers); Fletcher’s theory is not generally accepted and got her temporarily banned from archaeological work in Egypt. Worth three stars, I think. ( )
1 vote setnahkt | Mar 29, 2018 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michelle Moranprimary authorall editionscalculated
Campbell, CassandraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To speak the name of the dead is to make them live again. --Egyptian proverb
To my father, Robert Francis Moran, who gave me his love of language and books. You left too soon and never saw this published, but I think, somehow, you always knew. Thank you for knowing, and for your magnificent life, which inspired me in so many ways.
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If you are to believe what the viziers say, then Amunhotep killed his brother for the crown of Egypt.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307381749, Paperback)

A National Bestseller!

“Meticulously researched and richly detailed . . . an engrossing tribute to one of the most powerful and alluring women in history.”
Boston Globe

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, yet remaining loyal to Nefertiti will force Mutnodjmet into a dangerous political game; one that could cost her everything she holds dear.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:29 -0400)

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This fictionalized life of the notorious queen is told from the point of view of her younger sister, Mutnodjmet. In 1351 B.C., Prince Amunhotep secretly kills his older brother and becomes next in line to Egypt's throne: he's 17, and the 15-year-old Nefertiti soon becomes his chief wife.He already has a wife, but Kiya's blood is not as royal, nor is she as bewitching as Nefertiti. As Mutnodjmet, two years younger than her sister, looks on (and falls in love), Amunhotep and the equally ambitious Nefertiti worship a different main god, displace the priests who control Egypt's wealth and begin building a city that boasts the royal likenesses chiseled in stone. Things get tense when Kiya has sons and the popular Nefertiti has only daughters, and they come to a boil when the army is used to build temples to the pharaoh and his queen instead of protecting Egypt's borders.… (more)

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