"Are we not all just egotistic souls wanting to project ourselves before others and eager to leave a legacy?"

This historical novel tells of the Egyptian Queen Nefertari's efforts to bring about peace between the Hittites and Egypt during the reign of her husband, Ramses II. When the Hittite King, Mursili III, is overthrown by Hattusili III, Mursili and his son, Crown Prince Hartapu, seek refuge in Egypt. By chance, Queen Nefertari meets Prince Hartapu when he is asked to translate a message she has received from the Hittite Queen. The missive warns of an impending war between the two countries if the refugees are not returned. Thus begins Nefertari's behind-the-scenes efforts to forge a peace treaty between the two countries and avoid war. With the help of Hartapu and her advisor, Nefertari helps to ensure that the first international peace treaty in history comes to fruition.

Sridhar brings this important queen of Egypt alive in an imaginative narrative. "She was the first lady of the mightiest man of the times. She was blessed with the everlasting love of her spouse. She had no fears, no needs, no room for worries. Even so, she was discontented.… Was the role of a queen only representative? …But endowed with her abilities, skills, and position, what had she truly achieved as queen?" The author shows the humanity of Nefertari as she questions her worth and her position in the kingdom. Her personality shines through as she refuses to accept the role as merely "A live decorative banner."

Secondary characters also play an important role in the plot, with Nefertari's lady-in-waiting, Bennu, finding help in translating the letter Nefertari receives from the newly installed Hittite queen. Bennu's daughter, Anat, has met a man with whom she is falling in love, and he can translate the mysterious letter. However, there is more to this scribe than meets the eye. As the letter tells of the deposed Hittite king and prince being in Egypt, the scribe must confess his identity. When the women realize that the translator is indeed the refugee prince, Nefertari begins to form a plan to avoid war while giving safe harbor to the deposed royals. With intelligence and diplomacy, this formidable Egyptian queen forges ahead even in the face of opposition.

The author's imaginative telling of Nefertari's diplomatic abilities is a fascinating read. Sridhar creates compelling in-depth characters that capture the imagination. As one of Egypt's most famous queens, Nefertari makes for a compelling subject, and Sridhar handles her tale superbly. A gifted storyteller with an intriguing person to explore, the author places the reader in ancient times, bringing to life the historical Nefertari and her life within the palace. Known for being the favorite and most beloved wife of Ramses II, Nefertari is one of the most memorable Egyptian queens. Her correspondences with the Hittite queen are masterful in their diplomacy, and Sridhar's novel surrounding them is also masterful. Sridhar writes with a philosophical bent which is enjoyable. As Nefertari's son looks back on her actions and motives, he asks, "Are we not all just egotistic souls wanting to project ourselves before others and eager to leave a legacy?" Certainly, Nefertari's legacy lives large in the pages of this book.

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