7 reviews

The Heretic Queen: A Novel
by Michelle Moran

Published: 2009-09-01
Paperback : 416 pages
21 members reading this now
7 clubs reading this now
8 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 7 of 7 members
In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family’s past and remake history.

The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family—all with the exception of Nefertari, the niece of the reviled former ...
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In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family’s past and remake history.

The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the Eighteenth Dynasty’s royal family—all with the exception of Nefertari, the niece of the reviled former queen, Nefertiti. The girl’s deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names.

A relic of a previous reign, Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But this changes when she is taken under the wing of the Pharaoh’ s aunt, then brought to the Temple of Hathor, where she is educated in a manner befitting a future queen.

Soon Nefertari catches the eye of the Crown Prince, and despite her family’s history, they fall in love and wish to marry. Yet all of Egypt opposes this union between the rising star of a new dynasty and the fading star of an old, heretical one.

While political adversity sets the country on edge, Nefertari becomes the wife of Ramesses the Great. Destined to be the most powerful Pharaoh in Egypt, he is also the man who must confront the most famous exodus in history.

Sweeping in scope and meticulous in detail, The Heretic Queen is a novel of passion and power, heartbreak and redemption.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.



I am sure that if I sat in a quiet place, away from the palace and the bustle of the court, I could remember scenes from my childhood much earlier than six years old. As it is, I have vague impressions of low tables with lion’s-paw feet crouched on polished tiles. I can still smell the scents of cedar and acacia from the open chests where my nurse stored my favorite playthings. And I am sure that if I sat in the sycamore groves for a day with nothing but the wind to disturb me, I could put an image to the sound of sistrums being shaken in a courtyard where frankincense was being burned. But all of those are hazy impressions, as difficult to see through as heavy linen, and my first real memory is of Ramesses weeping in the dark temple of Amun. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Although the novel is called The Heretic Queen, Nefertari is not a heretic. So why did the author choose this title for the book? Has there ever been a time when you were accused of being something you’re not? Or a time when you were unfairly persecuted?

2. The young, wild, and carefree Nefertari is very different in the beginning of the novel than at the end. Why? How does she change, and what brings these changes about? Does being an orphan force her to grow up faster?

3. When Nefertari weds her childhood sweetheart, Ramesses II, the people of Egypt fear that she will be made Chief Wife and bring her aunt’s heretical policies back to Egypt. Is there a just reason for their fear? If so, why? If not, then why do they feel this way?

4. Why does Iset fear Nefertari? Is it jealousy alone or something more? How do Nefertari’s feelings toward Iset evolve throughout the novel?

5. In the novel, Ramesses is portrayed with red hair, similar to the Egyptian god Set. Were you surprised to learn that Egyptians were so ethnically diverse? Why or why not?

6. In what ways is Ramesses a master at public relations? Are the portrayals of himself on the Wall of Proclamation accurate? If not, why would he deceive his people?

7. When Ramesses charges into battle at Kadesh without waiting for the rest of his troops, the act nearly costs him the kingdom of Egypt. In what other ways is Ramesses seen to be rash throughout the novel? When does his rashness cost him? Is he capable of change? Why or why not?

8. The character of Ahmoses is meant to allude to the figure of Moses in the Bible. Aside from their names, what are the other similarities between the two? Is Ahmoses a heretic? Why do the people of Egypt believe so?

9. Women enjoyed great freedom in ancient Egypt, much more so than in any other contemporary kingdom. In what ways do women show surprising autonomy and power in this novel?

10. What happens to Iset? Do you think she achieves happiness? What about Nefertari?

Suggested by Members

Who was your favorite character (other than Nefertari) and why?
by chkahn12 (see profile) 07/09/10

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Perhaps I would never have chosen to write on Nefertari at all if I hadn't taken a trip to Egypt and seen her magnificent tomb. At one time, visiting her tomb was practically free, but today, that same trip underground cost upwards of five thousand dollars (yes, you read that right). As a guide told us of the phenomenal price, I looked at my husband, and he looked at me. What were the possibilities of our ever returning to Egypt again? There was only one choice. We paid the outrageous price, and I have never forgotten the experience.

While breathing in some of the most expensive air in the world (I figured it was about $20 a gulp), I saw a tomb that wasn't just fit for a queen, but a goddess. In fact, Nefertari was only one of three queens ever deified in her lifetime, and as I gazed at the vibrant images on the walls, I knew that this wasn't just any woman, but a woman who had been loved fiercely when she was alive. Because I am a sucker for romances, particularly if those romances actually happened, I immediately wanted to know more about Nefertari and Ramesses the Great. My novel, The Heretic Queen, explores their love story, and I hope you enjoy learning about them as much as I did!

Book Club Recommendations

by chkahn12 (see profile) 07/09/10
Our hostess had wonderful food. Chicken wings with Pomegranite sauce, frozen Pomegranite martinis, big chunks of cheese, shrimp dish w/avacado, mango, etc. Chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Veggie tray, ham rolls, pear slices w/panchetta/honey/feta

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
by Makicisa B. (see profile) 08/31/18

  "Heretic Queen---"by Laura G. (see profile) 08/01/10

This was the sequel to Nerftiti. It was an amazing love story with all the historic details you come to expect from Michelle Moran.

  "Loved It!"by Carrie K. (see profile) 07/09/10

Our bookclub read Nefertiti last year and enjoyed learning about Egyptian history through the book. It didn't feel like homework and you could really picture how these people lived. This b... (read more)

  "The Heretic Queen"by Wendy M. (see profile) 07/09/10

Don't let the title fool you; this queen is anything but heretic. She is awesome. I love the Michelle Moran books and I love the fact that this book is so different from her first book, Nefertiti. Great... (read more)

  "Herectic Queen"by Joanne J. (see profile) 07/09/10

This was a great book. We had read Nefertiti and decided to read this one, although you don't have to read Nefertiti it understand Heretic Queen. The story was great and different from the other book.... (read more)

  "The Heretic Queen"by Bonnie R. (see profile) 06/23/10

Once I got past the names, I loved this book!!!! It was a beautiful love story that showed that good does overcome evil. The final chapters were action packed, and it was beautifully written.

  "Heretic Queen"by sarah C. (see profile) 03/18/10

  "The Heretic Queen"by Nell D. (see profile) 03/18/10

The book was slow to get into and a little confusing with the characters relationships and names, but once I got into it, I found it interesting and the pace picked up.

  "I couldn't put it down!"by Lisa F. (see profile) 04/11/09

I enjoyed reading this book so much. My month to pick a book for our book club isn't until November and I couldn't wait that long to read it. Now I've got to give the rest of the club the book to read... (read more)

  "A great read!"by Sue B. (see profile) 03/19/09

We were fortunate to have the author call in during our meeting and really enjoyed talking to her.

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