"I'm just a leftover princess from a dynasty of heretics," bewails brilliant but childishly rambunctious Princess Nefertari, niece of the infamous Nefertiti, wife of the "Heretic Pharaoh" Akhenaten, and daughter of the ill-fated Mutnodjmet (see Ms. Moran's first novel "Nefertiti" for her story). Regarded as an omen of misfortune by most of the court, who superstitiously shun anything associated with the heretical reign of Akhenaten, Nefertari is only tolerated because she is the closest friend of the crown prince, future Pharaoh Ramesses the Great.
But when Ramsesses falls under the spell of a court beauty, Iset, Nefertari sees her dreams of becoming Ramesses' wife crumble, until she is taken under the wing of Woserit, the wise Priestess of Hathor, in sort of an Ancient Egyptian version of "My Fair Lady," and tutored in the ways and manners that become a queen.
Happily, love conquers all, and Ramesses marries Nefertari, but problems persist, because of the people's mistrust of Nefertari's heretical heritage, Ramesses bows to pressure and delays naming a Chief Wife, a queen, so the rivalry between Iset and Nefertari persists, and it is up to Nefertari to win the people's trust and respect and prove herself a capable queen and helpmate in the Audience Chamber where she hears petitioners and her fluency in several languages stands her in good stead.
"The Heretic Queen" is a worthy successor to Ms. Moran's first novel, "Nefertiti," and I encourage fans of Ancient Egypt to give both a try.