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Sphinx's Queen    by Esther Friesner order for
Sphinx's Queen
by Esther Friesner
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Sphinx's Queen is the sequel to Esther Friesner's Sphinx's Princess, a coming of age tale of the mysterious Nefertiti. In the first book, the author portrayed a spirited and intelligent young woman who only wanted to control her own destiny. However, her aunt Tiye, the Great Royal Wife, chose her niece to be her elder son Thutmose's wife and summoned her to court.

Disliking the arrogant, suspicious Thutmose, Nefertiti befriended his despised younger brother Amenophis, who taught her to drive a chariot. Also close to her is Nava, a Habiru slave Nefertiti nurtured, freed, and treated as a younger sister. In Sphinx's Princess, during Pharaoh's absence, Thutmose had Nefertiti accused of the blasphemy of killing his beloved cat Ta-Miu, and condemned to death.

As Sphinx's Queen opens, Nefertiti has fled Thebes by boat, along with Amenophis and Nava. They hope to make their way to Dendera, in order to plead Nefertiti's case to Pharaoh. Their adventures include pursuit by Thutmose, an encounter with an angry hippopotamus, separation and reunion, a scorpion bite, a daring raid on Thutmose's camp, and a fight with tomb robbers.

Though they reach Pharaoh Amenhotep, Nefertiti's trials are not over - Thutmose accuses her of sorcery and his brother of treachery. Nefertiti proposes to face the goddess's judgment in the palace of Ma'at - little does she know that a priest always decides the goddess's will. They return to Thebes, so that Nefertiti can face this ordeal, and she makes provision for those she loves in case it goes against her.

But the despised Amenophis is a lot more wily than his family understands. He intervenes and declares his love. And though Tiye works hard to keep them apart, Nefertiti's compassion and good heart eventually triumph - after all, 'she was much more than just another pretty face.'

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