2009, 384 pages
The Heretic Queen tells the story of Princess Nefertari, the niece of the "heretic" former queen, Nefertiti. Nefertari falls in love with the Prince Ramesses, but first must find her place in Pharaoh's court and overcome her family's past. While there are those who want to help her, there are others in Thebes who are determined to prevent her from becoming Queen.
Paser said firmly, "You cannot help who your family was."This book is the first I have read by Michelle Moran, and now I understand why so many bloggers have been singing her praises lately. From page one, this book sucked me into the ancient Egypt that Moran created, and I was fully engrossed in that world until well after I put the book down. I wasn't sure if this book could live up to all of the great reviews I'd read before picking it up, but it turned out to be a gripping and completely satisfying read.
"Then why am I cursed to live in their shadow?" I asked.
"Because they were giants," Woserit said, "and their shadows loom large." (p195)
I easily found myself rooting for the character of Nefertari, and although there was really no question in my mind as to how the story would ultimately turn out, I was still intrigued to read how Nefertari navigated the Pharoah's court and struggled to come to terms with her family's past. The character development of Nefertari was great, and I loved many of the other characters as well, including Ramesses, Asha (friend of both Nefertari and Ramesses growing up), and even Iset (Ramesses other wife who is also angling for the throne).
It's been a while since I read a piece of historical fiction that I enjoyed this much. I was drawn into Moran's Egypt and the characters she created. I love it when my high expectations coming into a book are actually met, as it seems to be so rarely the case. The Heretic Queen is a book that I know I'll want to pick up again at some point, to immerse myself again in the world of Ancient Egypt and follow along as Nefertari grows over the course of the story.
"It's true!" I shouted. "I am the niece of a heretic. But if you are not responsible for your grandfather's crimes, why should I be? Who in this crowd has chosen their akhu? If that were possible, wouldn't we all be born into Pharaoh's family?"
There was a surprised murmur in the crowed, and Ramesses's grip on my hand relaxed.
"Weigh each heart on its own," I shouted, "for how many of us would pass into the Afterlife if Osiris weighed our hearts with those of our akhu?" (p207)