Daughter of the Gods
For those passionate about ancient Egypt, there are few pharaohs as intriguing as Hatshepsut. In Thornton’s telling, Hatshepsut is the pharaoh’s second daughter, a bit of a tomboy who loves to drive her chariot fast, practice her archery skills, and make love to the handsome but dangerously ambitious Mensah. When her older sister dies, it falls to her to marry her half-brother Thut, become queen of Egypt, and bear a male heir. But it’s Thut’s second wife who bears him a son while Hatshepsut falls for his brilliant advisor, the commoner Senenmut.
After Thut’s death, Hatshepsut rules as regent for her two-year-old nephew, but then takes on the mantle of pharaoh herself. Even as she leads the army to victory and oversees massive building projects, her enemies plot her downfall, putting everything – and everyone – she loves at risk.
Hatshepsut, who began her rule in 1479 BCE, is considered by modern Egyptologists to be one of the most successful dynastic rulers and one of history’s most powerful and intriguing women. At the beginning of the book, I found Hatshepsut’s character – the typical out-of-control wild child – a little trite. It is her reckless behavior that leads directly to her sister’s death and sets her on the path to the throne, but it read a bit too modern for me. Nonetheless, it is, in Thornton’s hands, the defining event in the young girl’s life and the cause of Hatshepsut’s guilt as well as a primary motivation for her determination to be a good ruler, one worthy of her sister’s memory. For readers looking for strong and determined female protagonists or for those who can’t get enough of all things ancient Egypt, this is a recommended read.