Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sphinx's Princess

Title: Sphinx’s Princess
Category: Historical
Grades: 7-12
Author: Esther Friesner
Publisher: Random House
Date: 2009
Pages: 365

Nefertiti is determined to learn to read and write… and she is even more determined to marry for love.  Her father forbids the one, and her aunt, the Great Royal Wife of the Pharaoh, threatens her family into betrothing Nefertiti to her son, Thutmose.  Thutmose is handsome, but arrogant, obnoxious, and wildly jealous.  Denied any contact with the other palace women and her own family, a lonely Nefertiti finds unlikely friends in the small slave girl Berett, the scribe Henenu and even the second son of the Pharaoh, Amenophis.  After overhearing a plot to destroy the queen and Thutmose, Nefertiti finds herself unjustly accused of crimes she did not commit.  Soon it becomes all too clear that Thutmose will stop at nothing to be rid of her, and Nefertiti must find a way to escape before he succeeds.

Friesner continues to improve as a writer.  Her books about Helen were beautifully researched and written and Sphinx’s Princess is as well, delving into ancient Egyptian history with confidence and authenticity, yet still creating a young heroine modern readers will immediately relate to.  Nefertiti is a strong, beautiful young woman determined not to be bound by her society’s rules, and living in the midst of dangerous political and religious intrigue.  She handles herself with cleverness and grace, and needs no servant or husband to look out for her.  Friesner combines this exquisite character with an action-packed plot, full of secrets and danger as Nefertiti must first survive and later escape to save her own life.  This cliffhanger, perhaps the best of Friesner’s writing to date, will send readers running to the library for the sequel.


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