Sunday, June 21, 2009
Review: The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran
Before I left for the summer, I'd been listening to The Heretic Queen on audiobook. Once the "big move" popped up, my idea that I'd be able to finish it up soon disappeared. In fact, on the very day that I flew out for Hawaii, I had to drop the audiobook back at the library, dying to know how it ended. As soon I arrived here, I logged on to my mother's account and put it on hold. When I finally got the book, I sat down and finished it up on the spot. Now, although the novel is historical fiction, I think to some degree you do have to recognize the line between actual history, and the fiction. Overall though, its mix of history and fiction in this tale of Ancient Egypt was fascinating.
Synopsis: As just mentioned, The Heretic Queen is set in Ancient Egypt around Pharaoh Ramses, and his wives. In the aftermath of Nefertiti and Akhenanton's heretical change from multiple gods to the god Aton, their young niece Nefertari is left with the label and must face her world with this unpopular past. Ramses and Nefertari have grown up together, and been great friends, but Ramses is older than Nefertari and expected to marry according to his station and culture. Will the friendship and bond between Nefertari and Ramses continue?
Review: While I realize that the novel isn't historically accurate in every detail, enough of the setting and themes of Ancient Egypt (including references to historical figures) permeate the novel to help the reader escape into this world. I will admit that listening to the book for the first half helped me immensely because I was able to hear the pronunciation of names that I was unfamiliar with, so that when I finished reading the second half, I readily flew over the names and places of the story. There are some scenes of sensuality included in the story, but I wouldn't say they are pervasive. Definitely a piece of historical fiction, this story of Ancient Egypt tries to humanize and insert real emotion into some of the lives that might have played out in the background of the dynasties we have all heard about.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Moran's novel and plan to pick up Nefertiti when I get a chance. It's not often that an author sets their story in this time period, so it's fun to shift direction from time to time to escape into a truly foreign time and culture. You'll note that I've mentioned "escape" several times, and in truth, that is the crux of my review, that this is a great novel about losing yourself in a story and time.
Above, I've posted two different versions of the cover. Which do you like better? (The cover on the right comes out of the UK.)