2.5 starsThis review is for a free copy of the book courtesy of Curiosity Quills via NetGalley
This book was historically inaccurate, so please if you don't know anything about the period don't rely upon this one.
the author chose for her story the Amarna Period, which is a period that the successors of Akhenaton attempted to wipe out of history, destroying the city and the temples, carving out the Pharaoh's name and that of his wife, Nefertiti, moving their mummified bodies into unmarked tombs, making it very difficult to find them or find enough about their history.
Archaeologists have worked hard into trying to build out from what they found a history of the period, which still changes as more discoveries are made, and makes the Amarna period mysterious. And that's why maybe the author chose this period, because she can build her story around this mystery, where its difficult to be accurate anyway.
Yet as I was reading I was a annoyed at how many times I was bothered by the inaccuracies and the allowances made to bring this story to life.
The story begins with Naomi, a jew, who offers herself instead of her sisters to be taken as the Pharaoh's concubine, she is then taken from Thebes to Amarna, during the trip the Commander, Horemheb, asks her to be wary of Nefertiti and to be his eyes in the harem (and I'm calling it harem, because that's what it was in the book), Naomi is smart, strong and virtuous. As soon as she arrives to Amarna, she is taken to be prepared to be Pharoah's wife, she is cleaned, her hair is shaved, and her name is changed to Kiya, all the while commenting on how Nefertiti must not like her to treat her like this. Kiya enters the Pharoah's Harem and the struggle starts with Nefertiti, yet at the same time all the other women there, (other wives and concubines) like her instantly and see her as their leader and savior from Nefertiti. On her first day there, she opposes Nefertiti on how she schedules the women to go visit Akhenaton, she says that it is immoral and perverted that he sees more than one at the same time, and that she will not do it, she is then given the task of organizing a new schedule, on her FIRST day.
Kiya spends her days studying with Horemheb, she meets Akhenaten regularly and forms a more than friendship with the Jew Bodyguard. All the while dodging Nefertiti's attempts on destroying her, and unravelling her secrets and evilness. Telling us all the while that Jews are so much better than anybody else, and better looking. I got tired if how many times I had to read about " our people" "our women" "our men" who BTW fall in love quickly but very strongly.
I didn't care much for Kiya, despite the fact that most women liked her and all three main male characters fell in love with her, she was not a very likable character, and a bit confused as well.
Historically Kiya's origians are unknown, what is known is she was a favored wife whom Akhenaten build a temple to honor, she disappears from history before Akhenaten's death. There might be evidence that she fell out of favor.
Also DNA tests has proved that she was not Tutankhamen's mother.
Nefertiti is portrayed as the bad guy, and you don't see any redeeming quality in her. We are told from the beginning that she is not a good person, we don't really need to form our own opinion on the matter.
Whatever was found about this period showed how important she was and how high her statues was, her likeness was shown on almost everything that survived the period along side the Pharaoh, and sometimes on her own, she was also shown doing things that Queens don't normally do, like fighting the enemies.
But the Nefertiti in this book is just a jealous woman, who cares for nothing expect the crown, she would sneak into another wife's room to physically harm her and harm any male issues of her husband, Nefertiti in the book was a weak, spiteful woman who did nothing except harm the other wives in the harem and punish them. Where was the powerful queen, beloved of the Pharaoh and quite possibly his co regent. Her relationship with Akhenaton was not presented well, all the interaction they have with each other is of her complaining to him about Kiya, and then we are told by the others how much he cares for her, then you read about him talking against her behind her back. There was no evidence at all of any feeling between them.Nefertiti is here shown with Akhenaten and their 6 daughters
Which brings us to Akhenaton. When we first meet him we are told of his strange appearance, how ugly and unappealing he is. As the book progresses, we see his so called madness, in his fear of the dark, in his need for someone to sleep with him during the night, in sudden rage spells, and poor health, time and again we are reminded by every other character of how sickly he is, how he doesn't have many years to live, they all seem to be waiting for him to die any day, YET, this is the husband who entertains three different wives (not at the same time) every night!? And he is nice to all of them, and slowly Kiya gets to care a little bit if not love this strange looking man.
But he doesn't seem to have any authority, it's like he is one of the harem women instead of the King!
There is hardly any parts of him interacting with others or performing his duty as Pharaoh.
And this the pharaoh who changed a religion and tradition of thousands of years.
I think perhaps Horemheb was the only character written in a way that might present the real historical commander who ruled Egypt and wiped from history Akhenaton and his religion.
This could have been a book about any harem in any country.
In fairness the writing style was quite good, the author could weave a good story and describe the setting beautifully, if I was not aware of the history I would have enjoyed this book much more. I would check out her next book when it comes out.