Excerpt from Nefertiti by Michelle Moran, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A Novel

by Michelle Moran

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  • First Published:
    Jul 2007, 480 pages
    May 2008, 496 pages

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When it was clear that Pharaoh would not take Amunhotep’s hand, my father stepped forward, saving the prince from embarrassment.

“Let your brother be buried,” he suggested quietly.

The look Amunhotep gave his father would have turned Anubis cold.

It was only when we returned on barges across the Nile, with the waves to drown our voices, that anyone dared to speak.

“He is unstable,” my father pronounced on our way back to Akhmim. “For three generations our family has given women to the Pharaohs of Egypt. But I will not give one of my daughters to that man.”

I wrapped my wool cloak around my shoulders. It wasn’t me he was talking about. It was my sister, Nefertiti.

“If Amunhotep is to be made co-regent with his father, he will need a Chief Wife,” my mother said. “It will be Nefertiti or Kiya. And if it is Kiya…”

She left the words unspoken, but we all knew what she had meant to say. If it was Kiya, then the Vizier Panahesi would have sway in Egypt. It would be easy and logical to make his daughter queen: Kiya was already married to Amunhotep and nearly three months pregnant with his child. But if she became Chief Wife our family would bow to Panahesi’s, and that would be an unthinkable thing.

My father shifted his weight on his cushion, brooding while the servants rowed north.

“Nefertiti has been told she will be a royal wife,” my mother added. “You told her that.”

“When Tuthmosis was alive! When there was stability and it looked as if Egypt would be ruled by…” my father closed his eyes.

I watched as the moon rose over the barge, and when enough time had passed, I thought it safe to ask, “Father, what is Aten?”

He opened his eyes. “The sun,” he replied, staring at my mother. There were thoughts passing between them, but no words.

“But Amun-Ra is god of the sun.”

“And Aten is the sun itself,” he said.

I didn’t understand. “But why would Amunhotep want to build temples to a sun-god that no one has heard of?”

“Because if he builds temples to Aten there will be no need for the Priests of Amun.”

I was shocked. “He wants to be rid of them?”

“Yes.” my father nodded. “And go against all the laws of Ma’at.”

I sucked in my breath. No one went against the goddess of truth. “But why?”

“Because the crown prince is weak,” my father explained. “Because he is weak and shallow, and you should learn to recognize men who are afraid of others with power, Mutnodjmet.”

My mother threw a sharp glance at him. It was treason, what my father just said, but there was no one to hear it above the splash of the oars.

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.

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