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Nefertiti: The Book of the Dead    by Nick Drake order for
by Nick Drake
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2007 (2007)

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

A new day is dawning in ancient Egypt. Nefertiti, The Perfect One, and her husband Akhenaten rule a powerful and sophisticated society, affluent and flamboyant. But all is not well within the new structure that these royals have established.

Too many changes have been made too fast. Priests have lost their power. New gods have been introduced to a populace that still revered their old ones. A new city has arisen and dignitaries from all over the known world arrive to take part in its dedication to a new and glorious future. However, Nefertiti has disappeared. Her appearance is necessary at a festival, to give Akhenaten a chance to show off his new and visionary world. A young police detective, Rai Rahotep, is given ten days to discover her whereabouts in time for the celebration. If not, he will lose his head - as will his wife and three children.

The backdrop of this historical novel is astounding. Aspects of everyday life of the average Egyptian - as well as how royalty would spend their days - are laid out in fascinating detail. Their clothing, their homes, their foods - as well as their friendships and business practices - are woven into the story to the point where the reader feels that he/she could easily have wandered the streets of this new city and partaken of the foods on sale by a multitude of vendors. The political aspects fascinate also. Seems like things haven't changed that much in all the intervening years from then to today.

Nefertiti proves to be an intriguing character, though she doesn't seem to resonate very highly in the plot. The search for her proves more interesting than the actual person sought, and she doesn't come across as the strong character she undoubtedly was. However Nefertiti is well worth a read for the remarkable culture conveyed - one that professed to be enlightened but proved as brutal as any has throughout history, including today.

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