By Michelle Moran
Three Rivers Press
Following the death of the Crown Prince Tuthmosis, Amunhotep IV takes the throne. His mother, Queen Tiye, fearful of his temper and rash behavior, wants a wife who will be able to control him. She believes her niece Nefertiti is that woman. Nefertiti is cunning, cruel, sweet, loving, manipulative, and so ambitious that she drips with it. Of course she shows none of this to the Queen mother and when the marriage is arranged, her family becomes one of the most powerful in Egypt.
Shortly after their marriage, Nefertiti and Amunhotep, who soon changes his name to Akhenaten to worship his god Aten, begin planning their dream city, Amarna. They drain the treasury and take soldiers away from the borders to build, ignoring the warnings of vizers who tell the couple they are putting Egypt in danger. Nefertiti is desperately trying to hold onto her husband who is slipping further into his own world and desperately hoping to give birth to a son. Slowly, the city and their dreams begin to crumble. In a flash, their life and the new Egypt that Nefertiti and her husband were building falls, leaving Egypt in peril.
The story is told through Mutnodjmet’s eyes, Nefertiti’s sister. She’s a kind, loving, and very loyal friend to her sister but never one for ambition. She’s the voice of reason that Nefertiti doesn’t listen to but she’s the one you instantly like. Nefertiti is cunning and a hard person to pin down which makes her incredibly interesting but I can’t imagine the story told by her. Moran makes Nefertiti so intriguing that you almost need the story to be told by Mutnodjmet to be able to take it all in.
This is such an interesting time period in Egypt’s history and Moran does it justice. The court, the people, and the descriptions are wonderful. Moran is definitely one of my new favorite authors and I’m looking forward to her next book.