Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Power of Sisterhood

I have two sisters and the longer I live the more I think we're a trio of freaks. Oh sure, we had the typical, petty childhood squabbles - but there's never been any real rifts between us. I suspect because we know when to keep our mouths shut. That and we recognize our differences. What's good for one of us, wouldn't necessarily be good for the others. We live our own lives, we love each other, and it's blessedly drama free.

Michelle Moran's extremely accomplished debut, Nefertiti, tells the story of the Egyptian queen through the eyes of her younger sister, Mutnodjmet. Mutny narrates the story in first person, and what a story it is! One of power, intrigue, life, death and betrayal. It as all the ingredients of a steamy summer beach-read and better yet? It's steeped in Egyptian history (with some liberties, naturally - hey this is fiction) so you don't have to feel guilty for loving it.

Nefertiti was raised in a royal family and always knew her place was the marry the Pharaoh. Unfortunately the young prince that everyone likes dies, and Nefertiti is chosen to marry the impetuous, spoiled younger brother Amunhotep. Amunhotep's mothers thinks Nefertiti will be able to control her son. Instead Nefertiti sees it as her chance to become the "people's princess." To be remembered for all eternity, and secure her place in history. And if that means placating an unstable young Pharaoh, desecrating temples, and declaring that Egypt will worship a new god - well so be it.

Mutny doesn't want power. She's the plain, quiet, contemplative sister. The sister who never lies, and the sister who Nefertiti will never allow to leave her side. Then Mutny makes the fatal mistake of falling in love with a man who threatens the Pharaoh's power - and everything changes.

This is a dense historical novel that takes a little time to get into. I think it helps if the reader has a fascination with Egyptian history. Personally, I do not - and it wasn't until Mutny falls in love and actions lead to grave consequences that this book really started to cook for me. There aren't a whole lot of "likable" characters here - except for Mutny who is caught between her family's destiny and her own desires for a simple life. Nefertiti is a total bitch witch, a selfish girl who grows up to be a selfish adult. Mutny is pretty much subject to her will, until something happens to sever their relationship - and there's a kick-ass confrontation scene. However as the story carries on, the reader sees Nefertiti in her own power struggle. Fearful of assassination and a husband whose rash actions could spell their certain doom.

This is a really grand novel, and one that's just the ticket for readers looking for strong historical detail. It's also intriguing to read about characters so young (Nefertiti is 15 when the story opens), but who wield so much power. My only real quibble is that I would have liked a bit more detail about Mutny and her developing relationship with the army general who captures her heart. It just sort of "happens." Still, it's a very compelling story, and one that had me tearing through the final half of this novel this evening.

Lay down date is July 10, and it's a hardcover. Frankly I think it's well worth the $24.95 investment for you historical fiction fans and I'm glad I left my comfort zone and gave this book a whirl. Final Grade = B+


Jennie said...

Why aren't more books set in Ancient Egypt? It's fascinating. I'll be on the lookout for this. :)

Big Sis said...

Hey, your Lil' Sis and I already got your birthday presents, you don't have to be so nice.
: )
Love ya!

Tara Marie said...

My review is going up Friday.

I love anything set in Egypt so this worked for me from page one.

Great review of a fantastic book. My ARC is sitting right in front of me and I still may buy it in hardcover--it's worth every penny.

Wendy said...

Big Sis: I wasn't that nice. I did call both of you freaks.

TM: I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it - but dang I kept hoping that Mutny would poison Nefertiti after a while :D What a b----!

Barbara said...

Oh, I can't WAIT!! I have to order this one too. I can't believe there aren't more romance novels set in this period. Actually, scratch that. I'm sure it takes an enormously insane amount of research. So, yeah, I can get why there aren't too many.

I just wish more authors would write about this time period.

Loved your review, Wendy!