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Nefertiti: A Novel
by Michelle Moran

Published: 2007-07-10
Hardcover : 480 pages
64 members reading this now
25 clubs reading this now
16 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 13 of 13 members
"A stunning debut-I can't believe it's her first novel-what a thrilling read! I found the whole book rich and compelling, exciting and haunting. Nefertiti is a fine creation, both appealing and frightening, and she's surrounded by a thoroughly satisfying cast of characters, too. The whole ...
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Introduction

"A stunning debut-I can't believe it's her first novel-what a thrilling read! I found the whole book rich and compelling, exciting and haunting. Nefertiti is a fine creation, both appealing and frightening, and she's surrounded by a thoroughly satisfying cast of characters, too. The whole world of Anceient Egypt comes to life." - Rosalind Miles, bestselling author of I, Elizabeth

Nefertiti and her younger sister, Mutnodjmet, have been raised in a powerful family that has provided wives to the rulers of Egypt for centuries. Ambitious, charismatic, and beautiful, Nefertiti is destined to marry Amunhotep, an unstable young pharaoh. It is hoped by all that her strong personality will temper the young Amunhotep’s heretical desire to forsake Egypt’s ancient gods, overthrow the priests of Amun, and introduce a new sun god for all to worship.

From the moment of her arrival in Thebes, Nefertiti is beloved by the people. Her charisma is matched only by her husband’s perceived generosity: Amunhotep showers his subjects with lofty promises. The love of the commoners will not be enough, however, if the royal couple is not able to conceive an heir, and as Nefertiti turns her attention to producing a son, she fails to see that the powerful priests, along with the military, are plotting against her husband’s rule. The only person wise enough to recognize the shift in political winds—and brave enough to tell the queen—is her younger sister, Mutnodjmet.

Observant and contemplative, Mutnodjmet has never shared her sister’s desire for power. She yearns for a quiet existence away from family duty and the intrigues of court. Her greatest hope is to share her life with the general who has won her heart. But as Nefertiti learns of the precariousness of her reign, she declares that her sister must remain at court and marry for political gain, not love. To achieve her independence, Mutnodjmet must defy her sister, the most powerful woman in Egypt—while also remaining loyal to the needs of her family.

Love, betrayal, political unrest, plague, and religious conflict—Nefertiti brings ancient Egypt to life in vivid detail. Fast-paced and historically accurate, it is the dramatic story of two unforgettable women living through a remarkable period in history.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

Prologue to Nefertiti: A Novel
By Michelle Moran

If you are to believe what the viziers say, then Amunhotep killed his brother for the crown of Egypt.
In the third month of Akhet, Crown Prince Tuthmosis lay in his room in Malkata Palace. A warm wind stirred the curtains of his chamber, carrying with it the desert scents of zaatar and myrrh. With each breeze the long linens danced, wrapping themselves around the columns of the palace, brushing the sun-dappled tiles on the floor. But while the twenty-year-old Prince of Egypt should have been riding to victory at the head of Pharaoh’s charioteers, he was lying in his bedchamber, his right leg supported by cushions, swollen and crushed. The chariot that had failed him had immediately been burned, but the damage was done. His fever was high and his shoulders slumped. And while the jackal-headed god of death crept closer, Amunhotep sat across the room on a gilded chair, not even flinching when his older brother spat up the wine-colored phlegm that spelled a possible death to the viziers. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

From the author:

Nefertiti brings a fascinating chapter of Egyptian history to life. This reader’s guide is intended as a starting point for your discussion of this captivating story of two sisters, one of whom is destined to rule Egypt.

1. Thousands of years after the Pharaoh’s ruled Egypt; this ancient civilization continues to fascinate the world. Were you drawn to Nefertiti by an interest in Egyptology? What aspects of Egyptian life are of interest to you?

2. History remembers Nefertiti as a great beauty. What other aspects of her personality are highlighted in Nefertiti? How does she use her stunning good looks to her advantage? How do they hurt her? Have you ever known a woman like Nefertiti? Overall, is this a positive portrayal of her as a Queen? As a sister?

3. Is Mutnodjmet jealous of her sister? Is Nefertiti jealous of Mutny? How are the sisters different? What makes two people who are raised together turn out so differently? What do they have in common?

4. Nefertiti knows she must convince Amunhotep that she is more than his mother’s choice of bride. How does she do it? How does Kiya attempt to keep him? How do their powerful fathers make the rivalry between these two women worse?

5. How are Nefertiti and Kiya alike? What is the nature of the Pharaoh’s relationship with each? If you put his ambitions aside, which of them do you think Amunhotep loved more? Why does Nefertiti try so hard to outshine Kiya at every turn? Are her reasons personal or political?

6. What is your impression of Amunhotep? Do you think he was responsible for the death of his older brother? His father? Is he a tragic figure in Nefertiti or a villain?

7. General Nakhtmin is taken by Mutnodjmet from their first meeting while she pretends to be uninterested in him. Why? What is the attraction between them? Why does Mutny deny it? What finally convinces her to admit her love for him?

8. Do you think Nefertiti’s father, Vizier Ay, was a wise man or was he a slave to his ambitions just as his daughter was? Do you think he asks for an unfair level of loyalty from Mutnodjmet? Does she disappoint him?

9. When the Elder dies Amunhotep becomes Pharaoh of both Upper and Lower Egypt, meaning he is free to do as he wishes. Nefertiti is entitled to the dowager queen’s crown but doesn’t take it. What does she do instead? Why doesn’t Nefertiti demand this symbol of all she has worked to attain?

10. Why do Nefertiti and Amunhotep oppose Mutnodjmet’s marriage to the general? When Mutny lost her baby, did you think Nefertiti was to blame? How would a child of Nakhtmim and Mutnodjmet be a threat to Pharaoh?

11. What effect does the intrigue and politics and positioning of court life have on Nefertiti and Mutnodjmet’s relationship? What makes the sister’s close? Would you say they are bound by love or obligation? Why does Nefertiti want to keep Mutny so close?

12. Unwilling to call on the army, Amunhotep makes a treaty with the Hittites. What is the result of this treaty? Why is Amunhotep so afraid of the army?

13. Desperate for a son, Nefertiti asks Mutnodjmet to take her to visit a shrine to Tawaret, the hippo goddess of birth. What does the fact that Neferetiti calls on the old gods in times of trouble say about her belief in Aten? Why does she ask her sister to pray for her? Considering how powerful the Egyptians considered their gods, do you think Nefertiti had any concerns about denying the gods to advance herself and her family?

14. Why does Nefertiti banish Mutnodjmet?

15. What does Mutnodjmet learn about herself when Ipu marries and takes a long journey away? How does this help her resolve any anger towards Nefertiti?

16. Nefertiti tells Pharaoh that she dreamed the scheming Panahesi would be High Priest of Aten to get him out of her own father’s way. On page 386, Panahesi tries to use the same ruse to assure his grandson the throne. Is it a success?

17. How does declaring Nefertiti co-regent change Amunhotep’s position? What does this mean for Nefertiti? For her daughters and family? Is this the ultimate victory it appears to be?

18. When the plague comes to Amarna (page 404) Mutnodjmet decides to stay instead of leaving for the safety of Thebes. Why? What would you have done in her position?

19. What happens to Amunhotep? Do you think he deserved this fate? Does Nefertiti deserve what happens to her?

Suggested by Members

Manipulation (by women or otherwise)
Family versus personal goals
The limits of a person's loyalty
by ELMcHenry02 (see profile) 08/16/11

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

A Note from Michelle for BookMovement members:

My love-affair with Egyptology began in the summer of 1998 on an archaeological dig in Israel. While our team was working to unearth an ancient trading post, we came across a scarab, proof that the Egyptians had traveled north, perhaps selling cloth, incense, or Nubian gold. Looking at the mysterious lapis stone in the dirt, untouched for who knew how many years, I was hooked. It wasn't long before I found myself wandering through Egyptian exhibits in Los Angeles, London and finally Berlin, where the stunning bust of Nefertiti rests behind a case of polished glass. Thousands of years later it still fills the viewer with the same awe that citizens of Amarna must have felt when they saw her. I wondered who she was, what her story must have been, and as I began researching into Nefertiti’s life I was surprised to discover that there were no fictional biographies exclusively about her reign, one of the most enigmatic of any Egyptian Pharaoh-Queen. Spurred on by Nefertiti's untold past, I visited Egypt on an historical tour two years later, gathering books and writing down impressions of what had once been the most powerful kingdom in the East. When I returned to America I began writing about Nefertiti’s life, a fascinating account which had been buried by her enemies for more than three thousand years.

For three thousand years Nefertiti was lost to history. Her story was erased by enemies so incensed by her power over Egypt that they obliterated her statues and destroyed the city she built with her husband. For the first time in history, Nefertiti’s story has been resurrected, and readers can turn back the clock more than three thousand years to witness the reign of history’s most fascinating queen.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by Wruiz (see profile) 09/18/14

 
  "Another Moran Novel"by ELMcHenry02 (see profile) 08/16/11

After reading Michelle Moran's "Cleopatra's Daughter", this book was almost disappointing. It was so similar in structure, character development, and theme development that I predicted the ending just... (read more)

 
  "Nefertiti"by kristinbluedog (see profile) 06/14/11

A fascinating book that brought ancient Egypt to life for me. Kept me captivated through the entire book.

 
  "Interesting read."by boshea (see profile) 05/11/11

 
  "Great work of Historical Fiction"by iamom05 (see profile) 04/19/11

This is the 2nd Michelle Moran book I've read and really enjoyed them both. She creates a fascinating window into history woven with her own additions to the story. I now plan to read "The Heretic Queen"... (read more)

 
  "I love Egyptian history"by mpaniaguatej (see profile) 03/11/11

This novel was nicely written and very informative about a dark period of history. I enjoyed it a lot.

 
  "Nefertiti"by caravw (see profile) 11/17/10

 
  "Queen"by deenafrog (see profile) 10/21/10

Forever! Engrossing story of the life of this queen. Told from a very odd perspective. Made me want to travel back in time and move to Egypt.

 
  "Nefertiti"by factoryofideas (see profile) 10/07/10

 
  "Ancient Egypt"by lollygil (see profile) 07/20/10

A historical novel on ancient Egypt narrated through the Queen turned Pharaoh Nefertiti. It was a page turning book that kept me up reading all night! I became transformed to the ancient cit... (read more)

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