The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran
Published in 2008 by Crown Publishers
About the Author
Michelle Moran is an American novelist and she took an interest in writing from an early age, purchasing Writer’s Market and submitting her stories and novellas to publishers from the time she was twelve. She matured in literature at Pomona college. Following a summer in Israel where she worked as a volunteer archaeologist, she earned an MA from the Claremont Graduate University. Her experiences at archaeological sites were what inspired her to write historical fiction. A public high school teacher for 6 years, Moran is currently a full time writer living in California.
In order to start on this book, it’s very necessary for the reader to complete Michelle Moran’s first book, Nefertiti. The kind of stigma attached to the main protagonist, Nefertari will not be understood otherwise. The main protagonist in this book, Nefertari is the niece of the famous heretic queen, Nefertiti who bought about Egypt’s downfall and renounced all their Gods. She is the daughter of Mutny, the healer who died in childbirth. Nefertari grows up in the Egyptian court of Pharaoh Seti. She befriends Ramesses II, the young crown prince. When Ramesses is made co-monarch, he marries Iset who is backed by Pharaoh Seti’s conniving sister, Hennutaway, the priestess of Isis. As Nefertari’s position now becomes more dangerous, she realises that she is in love with Ramesses too and enlists the help of Pharaoh Seti’s other sister, Woserit and rival to Hennutaway.
When Nefertari succeeds in marrying Ramesses II, she creates more enemies than before, a fight to become the Queen and a public that still finds it hard to accept Nefertari as their Queen because of her family history. There are power struggles, murder and a hunger to have a share in the power of the Pharaoh that makes this an interesting read. The difficulties of running an empire faced with impending drought, having a wife that the public doesn’t seem to accept and a family that is far too ambitious are what bring this book to life. Nefertari’s struggle to become useful and not just beautiful, her ability to speak various languages and therefore become a diplomat in matters of state brings an interesting appeal to her character and demeanour. Michelle Moran has created a genius in the form of this book and I can safely say that I have read this over ten times already – the style of writing and the characters of Ancient Egypt have managed to keep me hooked every single time.