September 22nd, 2010

  • maribou

Infidel Tried

Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Ms. Ali's experience of Islam is appalling and her story is powerfully written. I have the utmost respect for her ideas, her strength, and her insight. From my comfy privileged religious-studies-minor-from-a-college-with-an-Islamic-studies-major corner of the world, the full story of modern Islam seems more complicated and hopeful than the parts she rightfully excoriates here - but that's really easy for me to say, huh? It's definitely a book worth reading, and worth taking seriously.

You Couldn't Ignore Me If You Tried, by Susannah Gora
I wanted this to be a different book about the same stuff. Dug the subject matter, gritted my teeth at the writing style and lack of thoughtful analysis.
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    Ani Difranco, "Out of Range"

Books 89 & 90: Nefertiti: a Novel and Tutankhamun: The Book of Shadows

Book 89: Nefertiti : a Novel.
Author: Michelle Moran, 2007
Genre: Historical Fiction, Egypt 18th Dynasty
Other Details: Paperback. 424 pages.

This novel tells the story of Queen Nefertiti through the eyes of her sister Mutnodjmet (Mutney). It opens with Nefertiti's marriage to Prince Amunhotep. Her father, Ay, hopes that Nefertiti will temper the Prince's religious views. However, Ay fails to appreciate the depth of Nefertiti's ambition. When Amunhoteph becomes Pharaoh he changes his name to Akhenaten and soon abolishes Egypt's traditional religion in favour of his own monolatristic one dedicated to the Aten. However, there is powerful opposition from the displaced priests as well as unrest in response to his other policies. Mutney desires a quiet life but is drawn by her sister into the complex intrigues of the royal court.

This book is very reminiscent of The Other Boleyn Girl. Both novels are quite compulsive reads and are narrated by the 'nicer' sister of an ambitious and demanding woman who becomes queen during a time of great religious change. There are so many conflicting theories about the reign of Akhenaten and Nefertiti and Moran had to settle on particular ones in terms of the lives of her principles. Overall, I enjoyed it and didn't lose any sleep over any historical inaccuracies.

Michelle Moran's page on ' Nefertiti' - includes links to except and Q&A.

Book 90: Tutankhamun: The Book of Shadows (Rai Rahotep #2) .
Author: Nick Drake, 2009.
Genre: Historical Murder Mystery. Ancient Egypt.
Other Details: Paperback. 430 pages.

Some years have passed since the events of Nefertiti: The Book of the Dead. Tutankhamun now sits upon the throne of Egypt with his queen and half-sister Ankhensenamun, daughter of Nefertiti. Due to his young age, Egypt is effectively being ruled by Ay, the Grand Vizier. Ay featured as a major character in the first book as well as Moran's book reviewed above.

At the novel's opening Rahotep is now the chief 'seeker of mysteries' within the Medjays of Thebes. He is deeply disturbed by the discovery of the bodies of several young people who have been cryptically mutilated. In the midst of this investigation, Rahotep is summoned to the Royal Palace where he is asked to unravel a mystery at the heart of the royal court. Once more he finds himself swept up in great events.

While there were still elements of this that were almost 'C.S.I. - Ancient Egypt', I did feel this was a stronger work than the first in this series. It was a very intriguing mystery and I felt that he had captured a strong sense of the period.

In his end notes Drake cited Robert Graves, who had said that his own novels sought to find answers to cryptic historical puzzles. Drake relayed his own fascination with Tutankhamun and that this novel was his attempt to solve the mysteries associated with the life and death of the young pharaoh. I was pleased that along with his notes about the historical background to the novel that he also included a select bibliography.