4.5 stars. I was engrossed in this book from the beginning, enthralled by the complex characters, the architecture, the Gods, the political intrigue,4.5 stars. I was engrossed in this book from the beginning, enthralled by the complex characters, the architecture, the Gods, the political intrigue, the clothing, make-up and jewellery. Michelle Moran brings Ancient Egypt to life. This is the story of Nefertiti, narrated by her younger half sister, Mutnodjmet (Mutny) and their family's rise to power. After the death of the favoured son of the Elder Pharaoh, Amunhotep is crowned. Amunhotep despised the rule of his father and all that he stood for. Nefertiti’s marriage to the Pharaoh as chief wife, provides her with the opportunity to gain the everlasting recognition & power she craves. With the encouragement of his wife, Amunhotep forsakes Egypt’s ancient gods, overthrows the priests of Amun, and introduces an untouchable god for all to worship, Aten, a representation of the sun.
Nefertiti’s scheming selfishness, irrational demands, and willingness to sacrifice her sister’s happiness for her own ambitions make her a compelling figure but not a very likeable one. Mutny touched me, I felt emotionally connected to her character. I cried over her losses, railed at those inflicting hurt upon her and cheered her on when she took her happiness into her own hands, defying her sister, all while retaining her own integrity, compassion and deep love for Nefertiti. Through Mutny's skills as a herbalist and healer I particularly enjoyed the indepth look at the herbs of the time and their medicinal uses. I also found Ipu, Mutny's loyal body servant, to be a particularly endearing character. Such a contrast, but entirely relatable, many of us know sisters with similar traits to Nefertiti and Mutnodjmet.
A compelling, intricately woven story with a well researched historical foundation. Ancient Egypt is calling, I'm about to immerse myself in 'The Heretic Queen'....more
Loved it, Loved it, Loved it! The Last Queen wins a permanent place in my bookcase, it's definitely a keeper! I've been in a bit of a historical fictionLoved it, Loved it, Loved it! The Last Queen wins a permanent place in my bookcase, it's definitely a keeper! I've been in a bit of a historical fiction reading rut lately & C W Gortner's amazing tale of Juana of Castile lifted me out of that rut and straight onto the 'hot tamale' train.
In The Last Queen we are given a fresh perspective on the life of Juana, daughter of Queen Isabel & King Ferdinand of Spain and sister to Catalina otherwise known as Catherine of Aragon. At 16, she is betrothed to Philip of Flanders, heir to the Hapsburg throne and so begins an arranged marriage to improve Spain's political alliances. Juana & Philip's first years together are passionate and happy but following the death of her brother, sister and nephew, Juana becomes heir to the Spanish throne throwing her into a dangerous power struggle with her scheming husband.
C W Gortner’s portrayal of Juana in first person is extremely perceptive and moving. I was completely enthralled by the story, pulled in from the very first page and left stunned by the betrayal, cruelty & tragedy of Juana’s life. I like to think that rather than a descent into madness, this strong, courageous and passionate woman was maligned by her detractors to encourage prejudice and misunderstanding that has remained through the ages.
Surrounded by advisors loyal to Philip, manipulated and betrayed by her husband and then the father she adored, separated from her children, imprisoned, beaten and threatened, I see only reasonable and justifiable behaviour by a woman determined to secure the succession for her sons. Ok, and maybe a few emotionally distraught displays and flashes of temper but hey under the circumstances!!
Throughout the story I railed at the treachery of Archbishop Besancon & Cisneros of Spain and cheered on those few who gave their loyalty to Juana; Beatriz, Soraya, Lopez and the admiral, unfortunately their bravery alone was not enough to defeat men hungry for power.
Superb attention to detail, rich descriptions and a heartwrenching story of one woman’s dauntless courage make this an absolute must read!
If only the first 200 pages were like the last 100! I really did enjoy the last 115 pages of 'The Last Kingdom' but in my humble opinion this does notIf only the first 200 pages were like the last 100! I really did enjoy the last 115 pages of 'The Last Kingdom' but in my humble opinion this does not make for a great read, it says more about my powers of endurance than the author's ability to capture his audience. Unfortunately for this reader, the overall experience was soured by the sheer boredom of the first two thirds of this book. The book is narrated in first person by the main character Uhtred years after events have occured. The story takes place in 9th century England & centers on King Alfred the Great's war with the Danes. Uhtred an English boy, son of a Lord of Northumbria is captured by raiding Danes & adopted by the Danish warrior Earl Ragnar and taught "viking" ways. Uhtred's allegiance changes through the novel as he gives his oath to King Alfred of Wessex, ruler of the only English kingdom to withstand Danish assault. I gathered from Cornwell's historical notes that most of the savage battle scenes in the novel are historically well recorded and while Ragnar & Uhtred are fictional characters, many others actually existed. Obviously King Alfred & Alfred's nephew AEthelwold but also Ubba Lothbroksson, the great Danish warrior, Guthrum, Halfdan & Ivar the Boneless and many of the English Ealdormen. I am still undecided whether 115 great pages are incentive enough to attempt the 'Pale Horseman', the continuation of Uhtred's story.