She was far more than just a pretty face. . . .
Although Nefertiti is the dutiful daughter of a commoner, her inquisitive mind often gets her into situations that are far from ordinary, like receiving secret lessons from a scribe. And her striking beauty garners attention that she’d just as soon avoid, especially when it’s her aunt, the manipulative Queen Tiye, who has set her sights on Nefertiti. The queen wants to use her niece as a pawn in her quest for power, so Nefertiti must leave her beloved family and enter a life filled with courtly intrigue and danger. But her spirit and mind will not rest as she continues to challenge herself and the boundaries of ancient Egyptian society. With control of a kingdom at stake and threats at every turn, Nefertiti is forced to make choices and stand up for her beliefs in ways she never imagined.
As she did in Nobody’s Princess and Nobody’s Prize, author Esther Friesner offers readers a fresh look at an iconic figure, blending historical fiction and mythology in a heady concoction.
Barnes & Noble Children’s Literature – Uma Krishnaswami
This is the fictionalized story of Nefertiti, here taken to be the daughter of Ay, whose sister Tiye is Pharaoh’s queen. Narrated in Nefertiti’s first-person voice, the novel depicts her as intensely curious and confident enough to compare herself to divine Isis. She persuades the scribe Henenu to teach her the secret arts of reading and writing. She talks back to her father. She is aggravated by the circumscribed life she’s required to live. She finds inspiration in the story of Hatshepsut who ruled as Pharaoh over the Black Land. In a vision of Isis, the goddess jests with Nefertiti and seems to validate her desire to learn to read. The story moves from an awakening event, the killing of a slave girl, through the family’s encounter with the Great Royal Wife Tiye to life in the court at Thebes. When Nefertiti is pressured to comply with her royal aunt’s scheming, she has to face her own destiny and learn how to stand up for her beliefs. A few scenes like one in which she learns how to drive a chariot seem a little too tidily placed. The third part of the novel begins to tiptoe quite surely into the historical narrative that is accepted about Nefertiti, pointing subtly to roles she is generally thought to have assumed later in her life. In effect, the book crafts a bridge between a scant historical record and girl readers’ interest in princesses, raising the stakes through minor characters including the cat Ta-Miu and through the protagonist’s fierce desire for independence.
Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami