Excerpt of Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
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If you are to believe what the viziers say, then Amunhotep
killed his brother for the crown of Egypt.
In the third month of Akhet, Crown Prince Tuthmosis lay in his
room in Malkata Palace. A warm wind stirred the curtains of his chamber,
carrying with it the desert scents of zaatar and myrrh. With each breeze
the long linens danced, wrapping themselves around the columns of the
palace, brushing the sun-dappled tiles on the floor. But while the twenty-year-old
Prince of Egypt should have been riding to victory at the head of Pharaohs
charioteers, he was lying in his bedchamber, his right leg supported by
cushions, swollen and crushed. The chariot that had failed him had immediately
been burned, but the damage was done. His fever was high and his shoulders
slumped. And while the jackal-headed god of death crept closer, Amunhotep
sat across the room on a gilded chair, not even flinching when his older
brother spat up the wine-colored phlegm that spelled a possible death
to the viziers.
When Amunhotep couldnt stand any
more of his brothers sickness, he stalked from the chamber and stood
on a balcony overlooking Thebes. He crossed his arms over his golden pectoral,
watching the farmers with their emmer wheat, harvesting in the heavy heat
of the day. Their silhouettes moved across the temples of Amun, his fathers
greatest contributions to the land. He stood above the city, thinking
of the message that had summoned him from Memphis to his brothers side,
and as the sun sank lower he grew besieged by visions of what now might
be. Amunhotep the Great. Amunhotep the Builder.
Amunhotep the Magnificent. He could imagine it all, and it was only
when a new moon rose over the horizon that the sound of sandals slapping
against tile made him turn.
Your brother has called you back
into his chamber.
Queen Tiye turned her back on her
Amunhotep followed her sharp footfalls
into Tuthmosiss room.
the viziers of Egypt had gathered. Amunhotep swept the chamber with a
glance. These were old men loyal to his father, men who had always loved
his older brother more than him. You may leave, he announced, and the
viziers turned to the queen in shock.
You may go, she repeated. But when
the old men were gone, she warned her son sharply, You will not
treat the wise men of Egypt like slaves.
slaves! Slaves to the priests of Amun who control more land and
gold than we do. If Tuthmosis had lived to be crowned, he would have bowed
to the priests like every Pharaoh that came
Queen Tiyes slap reverberated across
the chamber. You will not
that way while your brother is still alive!
Amunhotep inhaled sharply and watched
his mother move to Tuthmosiss side.
The queen caressed the princes cheek
with her hand. Her favorite son, the one who was courageous in battle
as well as life. They were so much alike, even sharing the same auburn
hair and light eyes. Amunhotep is here to see you, she whispered, the
braids from her wig brushing his face. Tuthmosis struggled to sit and
the queen moved to help him, but he waved her away.
Leave us. We will talk alone.
Excerpted from Nefertiti
by Michelle Moran Copyright © 2007 by Michelle Moran. Excerpted by
permission of Crown Books. All rights
reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted
without permission in writing from the publisher.