From an early age, it is Nefertiti’s ambition to marry a Pharaoh, but just being one of his many wives will not do. She yearns to be first amongst them, and it is not an impossible dream for she is stunningly beautiful and all who see her recognise it, as does she.
At fifteen years of age, she marries Akhenaten, the Prince of Egypt. Those around Nefertiti believe she will be a calming, reasoning influence on the Prince. However, chief amongst her concerns is not trying to reason with her new husband but rather ensuring she replaces Kiya as his chief wife, and she will stop at nothing to see that it is so. Beautiful and clever, Nefertiti quickly becomes a favourite of the people as well as Akhenaten, and her daring and courage only raise their opinion of her higher.
It is not only Nefertiti’s ambition that needs to be watched. Others are out to make a name for themselves. It is a dangerous time, both politically and religiously. Soon, she finds herself in the midst of upheaval as Akhenaten breaks with the traditional religion of Egypt and declares that the Aten is the one and only god, upsetting the priests, the military and even the people…
Is Nefertiti clever enough to save Egypt whilst ensuring her own ambitions are met? How far will she go to keep all that she has fought for? And what does this mean for her sister and the rest of her family?
Although the book is entitled ‘Nefertiti’, the story is actually told through the eyes of her sister Mutnodjmet. It is from this perspective that we glimpse one of the most strained and tumultuous periods in ancient Egypt.
Mutnodjmet, or Mutny, as she is called, is a great main character, one with whom it is easy to empathise with. Although she is sister to the queen of Egypt, she yearns for a simple life but any attempt made by her to get it is seen as dangerous and disloyal by the royal family.
I thought that the portrayals of both Akhenaten and Nefertiti were interesting and engaging. As someone who has possessed a keen interest in ancient Egypt for over twenty years, I believed their characterisation to be fresh and compelling.
This was such a great piece of historical fiction, one that once I was drawn into the story, I struggled to put the book down. The characters had a very real quality to them and the places described were clear and vivid. It was not hard to imagine the streets, houses, people and places, which is a sure sign of a great story.
I recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, especially those who enjoy reading about ancient Egypt. Love, death, betrayal, ambition…Nefertiti quite easily makes it on to the list of this year’s favourite reads and I would certainly read another book by this author.