Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Heretic Queen plus Dragonlance shortie

I had one of those "is it me?" moments with The Heretic Queen. I enjoyed Michelle Moran's first novel, Nefertiti, but wasn't in love with it. And I had a similar reaction to The Heretic Queen, the sequel.

The trouble is, most of the reviews I've read are pretty glowing and it makes me wonder why I had such an "eh" reaction. That maybe I'd missed some kind of secret awesomeness somewhere. It's possible.

Anyway. Historically speaking, Nefertari was the wife of Ramesses II, also known as Ramesses the Great. He ruled ancient Egypt longer than just about anyone and instituted massive building programmes.

However, I'm getting off-track. I do find Ramesses' story fascinating but this is meant to be Nefertari's story. And it's fine as far as it goes. It's well-researched and gives fairly vivid descriptions of what life might have been like. But I can't get ahold of the characters. For such a vivid historical figure, Ramesses is reduced to little more than a king pawn between warring queens.

Warring queens that I felt were barely sketched in themselves. Nefertari is the narrator of the story, and although her historical origins are lost to time, in The Heretic Queen she is the niece of the notorious Nefertiti and carries that burden ... and carries it ... and .. have you ever wanted to say "oh, pull your socks up and stop whingeing!" to a ficitonal character? Yeah. I wanted to say that to Nefertari.

The half of the book she's not mooning after Ramesses, she's complaining about her personal history. Sigh. And in between times she's being manipulated like a pawn on a chessboard, which made me feel like I didn't really have a lot of insight into her character.

Having said all that, I read The Heretic Queen in two days. Moran's writing is very compelling and she really knows how to put a story together. I just wish there were a few more ingredients.

I also read Book Three of The Dark Disciple: Amber and Blood; a Dragonlance novel. There have been many, many, many Dragonlance offshoots. The Dark Disciple trilogy follows on from the War of Souls trilogy and picks up Mina's story. It seemed to take aaaaaaaaaaages for Amber and Blood to come out in paperback and I thought I was going to have to go back and re-read the first two books. But my retention was better than I thought :)
I did enjoy Amber and Blood. It wrapped things up nicely, had the required good guys/bad guys/angsts and hand-wringings you'd expect :) It was well-written, well-plotted and easy to read.
If you haven't read any Dragonlance novels, the first one is Dragons of Autumn Twilight. :)


Louise said...

I haven't read a book set in Ancient Egypt for ages. Historical fiction about Neftertiti and Nefertari sounds like they could've been made into some fun and exciting fiction, but considering how little we actually know (specially about Nefertari whose memory has only survived due to Ramesses II's infatuation with her and not due to any major things she did/said makes it hard for me to imagine how much "history" there can actually be in those books). Anyway, as long as they are fiction, I think that is fine, its not that. It may be time for me to check out some of those historical novels from Ancient Egypt, they do seem to have become very popular :-)

Ana S. said...

" have you ever wanted to say "oh, pull your socks up and stop whingeing!" to a ficitonal character?"

Oh yes. Sorry these didn't quite work for you! I haven't read them yet so I guess that's all I can say :P

Maree said...

I love ancient Egypt. Every time there's a programme on the History Channel, or Discovery, there I'll be.
I guess I need to hunt out some better fiction ... oh, the hardships ...