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She was far more than just a pretty face. . . . Although Nefertiti is the dutiful daughter of a commoner, her inquisitive mind often gets her into situations that are far from ordinary, like receiving secret lessons from a scribe. And her striking beauty garners attention that she'd just as soon avoid, especially when it's her aunt, the manipulative Queen Tiye, who has set her sights on Nefertiti. The queen wants to use her niece as a pawn in her quest for power, so Nefertiti must leave her beloved family and enter a life filled with courtly intrigue and danger. But her spirit and mind will not rest as she continues to challenge herself and the boundaries of ancient Egyptian society. With control of a kingdom at stake and threats at every turn, Nefertiti is forced to make choices and stand up for her beliefs in ways she never imagined. As she did inNobody's PrincessandNobody's Prize, author Esther Friesner offers readers a fresh look at an iconic figure, blending historical fiction and mythology in a heady concoction.
Nebula Award winner Esther Friesner is the author of 33 novels and over 150 short stories, including the story “Thunderbolt” in Random House’s Young Warriors anthology, which lead to the creation of Nobody’s Princess and Nobody’s Prize. She is married, is the mother of two, harbors cats, and lives in Connecticut.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
Shadows on the River
The House of Isis
A Word Can Change the World
Meetings in Abydos
Great Royal Wife
Farewells and Greetings
The Knife and the Reed
Walking on Feathers
The Devourer of Souls
Monsters from the Shadows
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.
Gathering Magic almost a year after I tamed my dream-lions, during the Festival of the Inundation, my life began to change as surely as the rising river changes the deepest heart of the Black Land.
The Inundation is always a season of wild rejoicing. It’s the time when the god Hapy, fat and generous, makes the river overflow its banks to bring new life to the farmlands. A good flood means a good harvest, a good harvest means we’ll have more than enough to eat, that our Pharaoh’s reign is blessed, and that the gods love us.
That year, when I was five, the priests of every temple in the city observed the rising of the Nile and declared that their prayers had given us a good flood and a fine harvest to come. All Akhmin filled the streets to celebrate the event with music, dance, song, feasting, and gladness. Sunlight flashed from the brilliantly painted walls of the temples and the enameled gold necklaces, bracelets, and earrings of the highborn men and women. The air was filled with a wonderful jumble of delicious scents from many food vendors. Everyone seemed to be laughing. Father carried me on his shoulders so that I could have a clear view of the festivi- ties. I was pleased to be able to see everything from up so high, but when I caught sight of the older girls dancing, singing, and playing their harps, rattles, and tambourines, I squirmed like a fresh-caught fish.
“What’s the matter with you, my little bird?” Father asked, grabbing my ankles when I wriggled so hard that I nearly fell off his shoulders.
“I want to get down!” I cried. “I want to dance, too!”
He chuckled, but he didn’t let me go. “You’re not a bird anymore; you’re a kitten, wanting to pounce on anything that catches your eye. Well, little kitten, this dance is to please the gods and to thank them for all that they’ve given us. It’s a sacred thing, not a game for little girls to play at. If you want to dance for the gods someday, you will, but not now. When you’re older.”
His voice was always loud, a trait he’d kept from his days commanding Pharaoh’s troops on the battlefield. One of the dancers who was waiting her turn to perform overheard him and left her group to approach us. I gasped when I saw her: She was so beautiful! Next to her, my dearly loved Mery would have looked like a little brown hen beside a long-limbed, dark-eyed gazelle. The dancer’s eyes were artfully outlined with black kohl, the lids glittering green as the reeds along the Nile, and her lips were tinted the rich red of sunset. I stared, fascinated by the dozens of gold charms adorning her tightly braided wig, but when she smiled at me and offered me her tambourine, I worshipped her with gratitude.
While I bounced on Father’s shoulders, beating the little instrument with more enthusiasm than skill, she talked to him. At first I paid no attention to their conversation, but I soon began to feel Father’s back growing straighter and straighter, his shoulders tensing.
“That will be enough, my darling,” he said, reaching up to still my hands. “Give the tambourine back to this young woman now and thank her.” I wondered why his voice sounded so strained, the way it did whenever I’d done something wrong that was too serious for him to laugh off.
“Why so eager to be gone?” the dancer drawled, glancing up at Father from beneath lowered eyelids. “She can play with the tambourine a while longer. The child has talent as well as beauty. You should stay at least long enough to see me dance. I promise you, you won’t regret it.” She gave him a strange little half-smile.
I didn’t know what the stranger was trying to do, giving my father such odd, sidelong looks; I just knew that he ?didn’t like it and neither did I. “I’m
Excerpted from Sphinx's Princess by Esther M. Friesner All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.