The Heretic Queen
By Michelle Moran
Three Rivers Press
I’ve never read any of Michelle Moran’s books but a number of bloggers were touting The Heretic Queen in advance of her new book, Cleopatra’s Daughter, which was released in September. I saw this in the bookstore and decided to pick it up. I have to say it was one of the most detailed and interesting books I’ve come across in a while. I read a lot of historical fiction and this one ranked near the top. She has a great talent for creating interesting characters and a story the pulls you along until the last page.
Princess Nefertari’s life changes when her friend Ramesses becomes Pharaoh. They grew up together at court and she was always treated as another daughter by the Pharaoh Seti, Ramesses’s father. She always had a friend, and more, in Ramesses but his elevation from Prince to Pharaoh throws her into the middle of court politics.
Her family’s history, Nefertiti is her aunt and had been deemed a heretic for changing the way the gods were worshiped, has followed her throughout her life. She is used to the backlash but it becomes more intense because of her relationship with Ramesses. She brushes off the politics and only feels sorry that she can’t be with Ramesses any longer. Princess Woserit, High Priestess of Hathor and sister to Pharaoh Seti, takes her away to the Temple of Hathor to teach her how to be a proper Egyptian princess and work to instill her as Ramesses wife.
Moran has a way of bringing you into the story through the details. Her writing is incredibly rich and you associate very strongly with the characters and what is happening to them. One small criticism — toward the end, events move very quickly hardly giving the reader time to catch his/her breath. Up to that point, things had been calculated and nicely paced. I did not find this to be a major problem with the story just something which happened that felt out of place to me but it also may well have been my reluctance to see it end.
I’ve already reserved a copy of Cleopatra’s Daughter at the library. Unfortunately, they do not have Nefertiti but I enjoyed this one so much I may just make another trip to the bookstore.