Nefertiti is the story of a powerful family in ancient Egypt. It is historical fiction that tells the tale of two sisters, one of whom is destined to become one of history’s most intriguing queens.
Every book has its heroes & villains. This is the base of any story, any book. But after reading Nefertiti I must say this book has no heroes. All the possible candidates who could have been heroes turn out to be extremely self centred & selfish & remain so till the end. There is not a single exception to this. Pharaoh Akhenaten reminds me of Joffrey from the Game of Thrones series. He is as shallow, short sighted, cowardly & stupid as Joffrey was in GoT. Nefertiti is claimed to be as beautiful as a Goddess & this is given as the only reason why the people of Egypt are so blinded to her avarice & selfishness. It is hard to believe that an entire nation is fooled by a beautiful girl in her teens. Other than her legendary beauty she is manipulative when it suits her interests. But she fails to use this talent of her in two major instances: once when the Pharaoh poisons her pregnant sister who is carrying his enemy’s child & the second time when her husband, the Pharaoh invites the Hittites to their capital in spite of warnings from the Vizier of the Hittites being possible carriers of Plague. Her sister loses her child in the first instance & she shows neither shame nor remorse. Later on she herself executes the abortion of the first wife (Kiya) of the Pharaoh to ensure that Kiya doesn’t give birth to a second son.
While I had no hopes from Nefertiti & her husband, the Pharaoh I was sadly disappointed in the characters of her sister Mutnodjmet & her husband General Nakhtmin. Mutnodjmet is blind to all her sisters faults. Even when the entire capital is wiped out in plague because of her sister’s stupidity she has the gall to be shocked when Nefertiti is assassinated. While she screamed WHY I was silently wondering WHY SO LATE? Mutnodjmet is a push over who is manipulated time & again by Nefertiti to suit her needs & wants. She is one of those characters who aim to attain the angel status through their benevolence, the sort of characters I dislike the most.
Nakhtmin, Mutnodjmet’s husband is a general in the army. The Pharaoh sends him to fight a losing war when he finds out that Nakhtmin is having an affair with Mutnodjmet. There the general fights with another brave heart Horemheb. The two lead Egypt to victory. However when they return back, for reasons best known to the Pharaoh & his beautiful wife, all the soldiers & their two leaders are imprisoned. However on Nefertiti’s commands Nakhtmin is released. Nakhtmin decides to flee the capital with his beloved Mutnodjmet in spite of knowing that the next morning the Pharaoh intends to execute all the soldiers & Horemheb. An army man decides to run with a woman to escape punishment & be with his lady love. What can be more disappointing?
Another character which reminded me of GoT is Nefertiti’s father. His character is very similar to Tywin Lannister though Vizier Ay has more heart & scruples than Tywin. Unfortunately in this ancient Game of Thrones which took place in Egypt many centuries back there is no Tyrion Lannister! 🙂
Although the book is fiction it is based on facts. Nefertiti wasn’t as engaging as Cleopatra’s Daughter had been. Cleopatra’s Daughter had been a perfect mix of many emotions while Nefertiti sadly is an endless tale of the Pharaoh & his wife’s many stupidities & Mutnodjmet’s continuing loyalty to her family & her utter insistence of being a push over. While the author defends Nefertiti’s actions as those being of a woman far ahead of her times, in my opinion none of Nefertiti’s actions were for Egypt. What she did was for her personal glory & her family’s. And she was training her daughters in her footsteps. Its almost a relief when she is killed by the Aten priests!
The afterword in the book says that Mutnodjmet married Horemheb & became a queen! Given her family’s ambition to always provide wives to the Royal Family & indirectly rule Egypt it comes as no surprise that after the death of the elder daughter, the younger one should replace her. But Horemheb as the Pharaoh was more surprising since in the book after Nefertiti’s death Tutunkhamun is crowned as the next Pharaoh, who is the adopted son of Mutnodjmet & the real son of Akhenaten with his first wife Kiya who dies during child birth.
A quick Google search revealed that there is a lot of confusion about these ancient Egyptian royals. All the things I have mentioned above are based on the book Nefertiti by Michelle Moran.
A 3/5, not for the story but the tiny glimpses of the life of the ancient Egyptians which this book offered. It did not live up to the high expectations I had of it after reading ‘Cleopatra’s Daughters’.