Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sphinx's Queen

Title: Sphinx’s Queen
Category: Historical
Grades: 8-12
Author: Esther Friesner
Publisher: Random House
Date: 2010
Pages: 347

Fleeing for her life, Nefertiti has escaped the clutches of the Pharaoh’s regent, Thutmose, who has banded with the chief priests in order to accuse her of crimes which she did not commit.  Now Nefertiti and Amenophis must make the perilous journey down the Nile to Dendera to plead their case before Pharaoh himself.  In Dendera, however, there is no respite, as Nefertiti is placed on trial before the goddess of truth, Ma’at, whose voice Thutmose has corrupted and bought.  When Thutmose’s plans for Nefertiti fail, his insanity comes to light before the entire crowd and his favor with the Pharaoh is lost.  Now Nefertiti must find a way to mend the broken ties between Thutmose, the Pharaoh’s vengeful wife, and Amenophis before Pharaoh declares another to be his successor. 

This sequel for the most part is as good as its predecessor.  In Friesner’s hands, Nefertiti becomes again a spunky and courageous young woman determined to defeat the odds and marry the man she loves.  Teens will appreciate both the historical context, particularly older teens who have studied ancient Egypt, and the independence and spirit of the protagonist.  The plot is complex and full of surprises, keeping readers on their toes.  However, the last sections of the book are somewhat disappointing.  After Thutmose’s defeat, Nefertiti lifts him out of his blue funk in basically one visit and the mental illness that has plagued him seems to simply be gone.  More mature readers may have difficulty swallowing his inexplicable about-face, as well as Aunt Tiye’s change of heart, as Friesner backs both up with only the flimsiest of reasons.  In spite of this one major flaw, still an enjoyable read overall.


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