BOOK #: 12
CHALLENGES: Year of the Historical, 100+ Challenge, Countdown Challenge, Random Reading Challenge, Women Unbound Challenge, New Authors, A to Z Challenge
PUBLISHER: Three Rivers Press
GENRE: Historical Fiction
RATING: 5 Stars
I have been reading all over about how great Michelle Moran's books are and what a great writer she is. Well, I have finally experienced Moran's writing and storytelling and I have to agree with the crowd- I love her!
The Heretic Queen is Moran's second book (after Nefertiti) and is about Nefertari, the niece of Nefertiti (at least she is the niece in the book, historians are not sure how they are related, just that they are and could be aunt/niece.) Nefertari's family was the Eighteenth Dynasty in Egypt. But her family has been branded as heretical and Nefertari, the only surviving member, is discarded as an unimportant princess.
However, Nefertari and Ramesses II are childhood friends and after Ramesses becomes the Crown Prince, Nefertari catches his eye and he makes her his second wife. But all of Egypt is against the union and there are those who will conspire and plot to keep Nefertari from becoming Chief Wife and the Queen.
Moran's storytelling sucked me in immediately. I cared about Nefertari from the first paragraph. I rooted for her throughout the entire book and despised her enemies. I grieved with her losses and cheered for her triumphs. Moran stays as true to history as she can and some of the most fantastical parts of the book are actually true events!
I loved the way Nefertari was such a strong female and how she used her talent for languages to become useful to Ramesses. She intercepts spies, decodes letters that are intercepted, and on top of that she is the practicality and level-headedness that the rash Ramesses needs to balance him. I loved the story of Nefertari and Ramesses love. I loved the way Moran writes that he called her "Nefer" and how he would beam with pride at the way Nefertari proves herself to be useful and deserving of the title of Queen.
I liked learning about ancient Egyptian rituals, rules, laws, and etiquette. I liked learning about the tombs, the Feast of Wag, the temples, the people. I loved the character of Merit, who is Nefertari's nurse/assistant. She has spunk and loyalty. I liked knowing Ramesses had red hair. I didn't realize Egypt had people with red hair. I liked learning about the birthing pavilion and the funeral rites and how the Audience Chamber routines went (the Audience Chamber is where they would give audience to people with petitions and make decisions on those petitions.)
I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Heretic Queen and will no doubt read it again. I also look forward to reading Cleopatra's Daughter, which is Moran's third book and which I was lucky enough to snag a copy of from Moran (who, by the way is super sweet and sent me extra copies signed when the first copies of the book were thought to be lost.)
I am giving away a copy of The Heretic Queen to one lucky winner who leaves a thoughtful comment on this post, along with an e-mail address so I can contact you should you win. Only one entry per person. The contest will run through Thursday, March 25th. Good luck!