Thursday, June 11, 2009

Review: Nefertiti: the Book of the Dead.

Its Wednesday night, this post is supposed to be published tomorrow morning, I've got to study and yet, I'm still writing my review of Nefertiti by Nick Drake. Why? This review has been languishing in my draft folder since last Saturday, when I first sat down to try to put my thoughts about this book into words, and, so far, all I've come up with has been, "okay." I'm a regular poet, aren't I?

I'll try kicking this off with a description then:
She is Nefertiti—beautiful and revered. With her husband, Akhenaten, she rules over Egypt, the most affluent, formidable, sophisticated empire in the ancient world. But an epic power struggle is afoot, brought on by the royal couple's inauguration of an enlightened new religion and the construction of a magnificent new capital. The priests are stunned by the abrupt forfeiture of their traditional wealth and influence; the people resent the loss of their gods—and the army is enraged by the growing turbulence around them. Then, just days before the festival that will celebrate the new capital, Nefertiti vanishes.

Rahotep, the youngest chief detective in the Thebes division, has earned a reputation for his unorthodox yet effective methods. Entrusted by great Akhenaten himself with a most secret investigation, Rahotep has but ten days to find the missing Queen. If he succeeds, he will bask in the warmth of Akhenaten's favor. But if Rahotep fails, he and his entire family will die.
Doesn't that description make this book sound fascinating? Sadly, it wasn't. This wasn't a bad book - the story moved along and I connected well with the main character - it just failed to deliver on the promise of what it could have been.

Nefertiti is billed as a mystery. To me, "mystery" implies that there will be some revelation or big moment of unveiling. Instead, the story was very flat. The narrator is the main character, Rahotep, and the book is his diary, filled with his thoughts on the activities surrounding the capital and Queen. But what the author probably intended as introspection came off as filler. And, because he was the narrator, I never once thought that Rahotep and his family were in danger of dying, as the description above suggests. There just wasn't enough at stake to keep the energy level up to what it needed to be to propel the book forward.

The history behind this story really is fascinating, so Egyptophiles may want to check this one out. But for the rest of us, while this book was an okay read, this isn't a strong recommendation.

Check out Nefertiti: The Book of the Dead on Amazon.

If any of you have another recommendation for a good Egyptian historical novel or mystery, I'd love to hear about it.

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