March 11, 2010

The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

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
FORMAT/PAGES: Paperback/383
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!


  1. I really liked this one and Cleopatra's Daughter as well. She's a great writer!

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed this one so much. I love watching all the history channel shows where they test the DNA of the Egyptian mummies to prove or disprove who's who. I have Nefertiti in my pile of books to read and it's going to the top! I would like to be entered to win this one -

  3. Now that you've experience Moran's work, I'm probably the last person in the world to. I'm so glad you loved it since I've got her books and need to make time to read them. No need to enter me.

  4. I have this book and haven't read it yet. I'm glad to hear it will be worth it. I will try to read this sooner than later. Thanks for the review!

  5. You know how I love Ancient Egypt. This book sounds like it was really well-research and well-written! I've been wanting to read Nefertiti for a while but haven't gotten around to it.

  6. Wow!! That review was freakin' incredible!!! You made me want to run upstairs and grab my copy that I won!!!!! I certainly need to get to reading this author. I feel like I'm missing out on a great talent!!!

  7. Don't enter me for the contest but I have read all three of her books and while I love them all almost equally I do believe this one is my favorite with a close second in Cleopatra's Daughter.

  8. Well, I'm not sure what constitutes a "thoughtful comment" but I will say I've been anxious to read Michelle Moran for a while but still haven't acquired any of her books. So, I'd love to enter. You can find me here:

    bookfoolery at gmail dot com

    Excellent review!

  9. Looks like it's time for me to give Moran a try--she seems to be universally loved!

  10. I don't know if I can be lucky again in winning another one of Moran's books, because I've won "Cleopatra's Daughter" and enjoyed that one. I also really liked "Nefertiti". I still need and want to read "The Heretic Queen".

    Just wanted to say that I enjoyed those two books I've read; and anyone looking at Michelle Moran's website will see she really does her homework with her research for her historical fiction!

    valphia (at) aol. com

  11. Michelle Moran does write beautifully. So detailed and descriptive - you actually feel you are living in the era.

    Please count me in.

    Thanks for your generosity.


  12. Isn't it great when you have high expectations for an author and then you read a book, and the author actually meets the expectations!?! Too often high expectations foreshadows a bad outcome. I'd love to be entered as I have yet to read a single thing by Moran, and this books sounds wonderful.


  13. I still haven't read anything by Moran. I need to win this one so I can!!

  14. I love reading about this period in history! Thanks for the giveaway.


  15. I would look forward to reading a book that brings the Egyptian dieties to life. So often, they are larger than life characters!
    edicampbell at gmail dot com

  16. Everyone seems to love her books.

  17. I have been looking for books to add to my historical challenges. I am just so lost with them. If you have any good suggestions, I would really appreciate it. I used to have dreams that I was Egyptian after messing with Tarot cards lol. This would just be great.

    Oh and I found you thru the Blog Hop. Here's mine: Silly Little Game Called Life
    yeseniah23 @

  18. Nefertari sounds like a strong and fascinating female figure from ancient Egypt, and I would love to learn about her life and time period.

    Please enter me in this giveaway!

    saemmerson at yahoo dot com

    Sarah E

  19. Sneaking in under the gun cause the book sounds amazing.

  20. I feel like I'm the only blogger left in the world who hasn't read Moran, but I have her books in my TBR pile and can't wait to read them. I'm glad to know you enjoyed her writing too! :)


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