Most historical fiction novels about ancient Egypt generally focus on famous queens such as Cleopatra VII, Nefertiti or Hatshepsut. Stephanie Liaci has taken a different approach and chose Tutankhamun’s wife Ankhesenamun to be her heroine for The Last Heiress.
The 18th Dynasty is shrouded in mystery, which works to Liaci’s advantage because it allows her to speculate on what really happened to Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun. The author weaves in speculation and historical fact to create a heartbreaking tale. Ankhesenamun’s life is swathed in tragedy and the author does not shy away from exploring the darker aspects of her story.
Liaci creates a believable heroine who manages to suffer through unendurable heartbreak. Readers will find themselves sympathizing with this brave Queen who lost her husband at such a young age and was forced to marry a scheming vizier. There are also other heartbreaking scenes such as when Ankhesenamun suffers two miscarriages and makes a desperate plea to marry a Hittite prince in order to keep her dynasty alive.
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If you loved watching the Mummy movies as a kid or just consider yourself an armchair Egyptologist, Nicholas Reeves’ The Complete Tutankhamun: The King, The Tomb, The Royal Treasure is a great book to flip through.
Not only does it have a foreword by the Seventh Earl of Carnarvon, but Reeves includes extracts from Howard Carter’s diaries and notes, as well as many of his drawings and reconstructions from the archaeological dig. It’s actually the first time many of these sketches were even published.
Reeves recounts the story of Carter and Lord Carnavon’s search for the Boy King and explains the significance of many of the items that were found in the tomb. For example, the author mentions that the shape of the second shrine that concealed the sarcophagus and mummy within was designed to imitate an ancient place in Upper Egypt known as the Per-Wer. He also points out that the Goddesses Isis (Aset) and Nepthys (Nebet-Het) were carved onto the walls to stand guard over the Pharaoh’s soul. The shrine was also covered in spells from the Egyptian Book of the Dead in the hopes of leading Tutankhamun’s spirit successfully through the trials and tribulations of the afterlife.
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