Library Journal, Starred Review
With her second historical novel (after Nefertiti), also set in ancient Egypt, Moran continues to delight. Following the murder of Nefertiti and most of her family for their heretical beliefs, the sole survivor, Princess Nefertari, is raised in the household of Pharaoh Seti I. Although much loved by the crown prince, Ramesses II, Nefertari is feared and hated by the people of Egypt because of her birth family’s unpopularity. But, young as she is, Nefertari discovers that there is great power in her love for Ramesses and her gift for languages and political maneuvering, and she uses both to carve a place for herself as queen of Egypt. As readers of the Bible may recall, it is Ramesses II who is credited with releasing the Hebrews from slavery following the demands of Moses. Moran puts a twist on this story and uses it as a subplot in a wonderfully original way. It’s all here: palace intrigue, politics, romance, warfare, and religion. As beautifully written and engrossing as her first novel, this should enjoy wide readership. Recommended for all popular fiction collections.
—Jane Henriksen Baird
The intricacies of the ancient Egyptian court are brought to life in Moran’s fascinating tale of a princess’s rise to power. Nefertari, niece of the famed “heretic queen” Nefertiti, becomes part of the court of Pharaoh Seti I after her family is deposed, and she befriends Ramesses II, the young crown prince. When Ramesses is made co-monarch, he weds Iset, the granddaughter of a harem girl backed by Seti’s conniving sister, Henuttawy, the priestess of Isis. As Nefertari’s position in the court becomes tenuous, she realizes that she, too, wants to marry Ramesses and enlists the help of Seti’s other sister, Woserit. But when Nefertari succeeds in wedding Ramesses, power struggles and court intrigues threaten her security, and it is questionable whether the Egyptian people will accept a heretic descendant as their ruler or if civil war will erupt. Moran (Nefertiti) brings her characters to life, especially Nefertari, who helped Ramesses II become one of the most famous of Egyptian pharaohs. Nefertari’s struggles to be accepted as a ruler loved as a leader and to secure her family’s position throughout eternity are sure to appeal to fans of historical fiction.
Author Michelle Moran convincingly weaves an epic love story, a gorgeously detailed history lesson, and a gripping tale of political intrigue in her sophomore novel, The Heretic Queen… Like Moran’s first book, The Heretic Queen is rooted in meticulous research; her fictional characters are based on actual people and historically documented facts, which makes the story resonate on many levels. Moran’s careful attention to detail and her artful storytelling skills bring these people— pharaohs, princesses, and queens; petitioners, servants, and soldiers – to vivid life, imbuing ancient history with suspense and urgency.
—Lylah M. Alphonse
Moran, author of Nefertiti (2007), continues to plow the fertile terrain of ancient Egypt to produce evocative historical fiction. Nefertari, niece of the infamous Queen Nefertiti, is the only member of her reviled and deposed dynasty to survive a devastating fire. When young Nefertari falls in love with Ramesses, heir to the Egyptian throne, the sparks really begin to fly. Though many are opposed to the union, the young lovers defy the court of public opinion and marry, setting the fervent tone that will characterize their royal union through years of war, rebellion, and exodus. Set against a colorful backdrop of court intrigue, jealous rivalries, and internal and external power struggles, this authentically detailed slice of Egyptania will appeal to fans of Christian Jacq’s Ramses series.
Four Stars ****
The author of Nefertiti brings the ancient Egyptian court to life again in her follow-up historical novel.
Set in Egypt, c.1285 BC, this well-crafted novel is a gift to the senses. At every turn of the page, the author describes in detail Princess Nefertari ’s life. You enter into her life, during her early childhood. As an orphan, she is shunned by many in the royal family because of her heretic ancestors. Until Woserit, The High Priestess of Hathor, takes her under her care and tutelage, her future is uncertain.
As the story moves forward, you discover her true loves, her vile enemies, her heartbreaking disappointments, and wildly successful triumphs. Nefertari’s story would be incomplete without the vivid and the colorful history of Ramesses II, her childhood confidant and friend, who ultimately becomes her husband and father to her children.
As you read, you’ll discover the luxuries of living in a palace. Receiving the royal treatment, is an understatement, as Pharaoh Seti and his Queen, Ramesses’ parents, live in one of many palaces with their opulence and breathtaking views. As lavish and spectacular as the surroundings and trappings of royalty, it proves to be equally dark with intrigue, disloyalty, and greed.
If you are seeking a novel that closely follows history, you’ll find the storyline supports the characters, their families, their gods, their battles and wars. While the author has taken literary license in developing her story, she keeps the historical focus realistic.
If this is your first novel, of this genre, the author has created a glossary of terms. In addition, a map of the region, the family tree for the Nineteenth Dynasty and Egyptian calendar add to your ease in settling into a colorful, highly intriguing, compelling, and enjoyable must read.
—Barbara L. Fielder
While the main story of the novel is essentially a romance, it never becomes sickly-sweet or overly sentimental. There is drama and intrigue, plotting and secrecy, plus the politics and war of the time to keep you interested…. I highly recommend this novel. It is fictional, but based on history and I felt it was educational and informative and would be especially interesting to anyone who finds Egyptian history intriguing. Moran includes a four-page Historical Note after the novel, which is worth reading, as it explains the historical facts behind the novel and where the fiction took over.
“The Heretic Queen is an enthralling read, so vivid and rich with detail that you can almost feel the heat and smell the desert of ancient Egypt.”
—Tess Gerritsen, NYT bestselling author of The Keepsake
“Michelle Moran immerses the reader in the foreign yet fascinating world of the pharaohs. Her richly depicted characters jump off the page with power and passion. No other writer brings ancient Egypt so vividly to life and, amazingly, makes its trials and triumphs seem so very much our own.”
—Karen Harper, NYT bestselling author of Mistress Shakespeare
“Performing deft feats of Egyptian magic, Michelle Moran transforms stone-cold history-from-hieroglyphs into gripping narrative, peopled by unforgettable characters seething with conflict and passion. I couldn’t stop reading, but I didn’t want this book to end.”
—Robin Maxwell, bestselling author of Mademoiselle Boleyn
“Michelle Moran makes wonderful use of texture and colour and all the sensory input to bring Ancient Egypt alive. The characters are of their time but as immediate as now. It took me a minute to get used to the idea of a red-haired pharaoh, or people with green and blue eyes, but I’ve worked in history enough to know that often the historical record pulls the rug from under the feet of what you think you know. Highly recommended. I loved this one.”
—Elizabeth Chadwick, international bestselling author of The Greatest Knight
“Michelle Moran breathes new life into the faded paintings on tomb walls, bringing Ramesses, Nefertari, and the whole panoply of ancient Egyptian splendor to vivid, bustling, page-turning life.”
—Lauren Willig, author of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation
“The Heretic Queen is a real page-turner! A heady, ancient Egyptian brew of magic and mystery; history, murder, and palace intrigue as well as romance. I read this enthralling novel in one sitting.”
—India Edghill, author of Wisdom’s Daughter
“The Heretic Queen is historical fiction at its best. Michelle Moran seamlessly incorporates accurate details into a story full of suspense, intrigue, and tenderness that’s impossible to put down until you’ve reached the last page. An absolute triumph!”
—Tasha Alexander, author of A Fatal Waltz
“A marvelous read. Moran renders the arcane Egypt of hieroglyphs and foundering monuments into a breathing world whose characters we care deeply about. I read it in a trice and wished there was more.”
—Erika Mailman, author of The Witch’s Trinity
“Authentic, captivating, and beautifully rendered, Michelle Moran’s The Heretic Queen brings to vivid life the ancient courts and distant vistas of New Kingdom Egypt. A fascinating read.”
—Susan Fraser King, author of Lady Macbeth