Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review: The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

As the niece of the former Heretic Queen, Nefertari is hated by all of Egypt apart from a few allies, but they are powerful allies that include the Pharaoh, the High Priestess, and the Crown Prince, Ramesses the Great. Nerfertari has to prove that she is a valuable queen for him after spending a whole year being groomed for the position of Chief Wife.

Moran always knows how to craft an enjoyable story and this one is no exception. However, I did have some criticisms. The characters were a little one dimensional, they were either perfect or evil. I am finding this is typical for Moran's work though, and doesn't necessarily mean the protagonists aren't likable.

My main issue was the fact that the women in the story were portrayed as manipulative and influential of the Pharaohs, while the men were nearly their pawns. I understand that the influence of most women in history was through the men in their life, so this was the only way for them to hold power. But the degree to which they could manipulate the men, and the stupid men didn't even really seem to notice was a little unrealistic at times.

None of that means it wasn't enjoyable. There's lots of cultural detail that brought the setting to life, the pace moved along steadily with an eventful plot, and the writing was good. I particularly liked how much Moran incorporated the Ancient Egyptian religion into the story and the characters. So many historical novelists seem to make religion not much more than a passing thought to their character when writing about cultures which were generally deeply religious. The Heretic Queen really shows how important the Ancient Egyptian beliefs were to them, and how they lived by them.

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