This novel of historical fiction is a sweeping, romantic story about Nefertari, the niece of Nefertiti, who was known as the “heretic queen”. Nefetari is the narrator of the story and is the only one spared when a catastrophic fire in the palace kills the Eighteenth Dynasty’s entire royal family. The members of the court do not want Nefetari around because of who she is. She is ostracized and rejected by people all because her family name has been damaged for good. The wicked things her family did effects everything that poor Nefetari tries to do with her life.
Two close friends of Nefetari are Ramesses, who is just a few years older, and another younger boy, Asha. This young trio is loyal to each other, and spends a great deal of time together. However, this relationship changes when Ramesses becomes Co-Regent with his father. At that point, Ramesses is told he can no longer be friends and spend time with Nefertari. This is very difficult for Nefetari as Ramesses was one of her only friends in the palace. Matters worsen when Nefertari finds out that Ramesses is to be wed soon. Nefertari always thought it would be her that Ramesses married but it is not to be.
Following Ramesses’ marriage, and with no welcome place now for Nefertari in the court, she is presented with a chance to work with one of Ramesses’ aunts and try to become a second wife to Ramesses. Often, the second wife was more important than the first. This sounds like it will be an answer but there is one thing that will be a problem, as usual, and that is her relation to the Heretic King and Queen. And so, Nefertari is taken to the Temple of Hathor where the aunt works with her. Nefertari is taught in the same way that royalty would be taught. She is prepared in a way that she could become a future queen someday. (excuse me, First two people to comment on this review and tell the names of Nefertari's two close friends will receive an extra entry into Awesome April Audio Giveaway).
Finally, the Prince notices Nefertari, after her hard work and passage of time, and she and Ramesses start to see each other again. Forgetting about her background, they fall in love and want to get married. Iset, who is Ramesses wife, sets out to make herself Chief Wife and thus most important in court and to Ramesses. She works very hard to keep Nefetari out of their lives. However, Nefertari has other ideas as she makes it her goal to become THE wife of Ramesses and return her family’s name back into the good graces of the court. Nefertari also decides that SHE wants to be the Chief Wife even though everyone around her works against this. Despite their efforts, Nefertari does become the wife of Ramesses who by now is known as Ramesses the Great. His goal is to be the most powerful Pharaoh in Egypt, despite the problems history will present him with including the “great Exodus”. Ramesses and Nefertari become involved in many thrilling and almost unreal ventures. They seem almost impossible and yet they are all based on history. They face Ahmoses, do battle with Hittites and pirates, and so many historical based adventures that the story is exciting and adventurous. The author, Michelle Moran, has so much detail to the actions while still making the book move along quickly and not bogging the readers down with heavy historical minutiae. It makes that time period believable and real, and makes the Egyptian history come alive.
Moran includes a glossary full of terms to help explain words, as well as a religious calendar that keeps the reader on track with all that is going on. Although it is nice to have read NEFERTITI: A NOVEL also by Michelle Moran, it is not necessary to have in order to understand, follow, and enjoy THE HERETIC QUEEN. I recommend this book to historical fiction buffs but also romance readers who like a fast moving story with good basics and a great story line, full of well developed characters.
Submitted Originally to Ijustfinished.com by Karen Haney, February, 2009