Published: August 15th, 2013, self-pubbed | Series: #1 in The Forgotten | Length: 556 pages | Genre: YA, historical fiction | Source: I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Summary from Goodreads:
Ankhesenamun grew up a princess and became queen at age 13. Her husband, the famed King Tut, was 9. They were expected to restore Egypt to its former glory and renounce their family. They were forced to leave their home, abandon their god, and change their names. But how can these two lead a nation when they have lost all that they once were?
Ankhesenamun must also deal with a secret of the heart and of a man who has captured it. He is a person being hunted as an “Aten follower” by powerful men who wish to destroy monotheistic worship. Yet is it Aten he is worshipping or another god that long ago brought the Egyptian lands to its knees…
And there is one more thing that Ankhesenamun must keep secret – there is a young girl who was never supposed to have survived the fall of Akhenaten City, a daughter she bore that carries the blood of “the heretic” in her veins. There are people who will stop at nothing to find this daughter of Ankhesenamun’s and end the line of “the heretic king” once and for all.
Ankhesenamun will do what she must for the good of her people and those she loves. But will it be enough to survive the most terrible of all fates – being erased from the walls of time? Being forgotten…
First of all, I want to give a big thank you to J. Lynn Else for being kind enough to send me a copy to review.
To quickly give an overview of the book: the story follows Ankhesenamun, or An, who was King Tut’s wife and sister. She was also the daughter of the previous Pharoah. We get to see her grow up and become the Queen alongside King Tut. We see her go through a lot.
For some reason, this book took me forever to get through. I spent between 2-3 weeks on it, if I remember correctly. I’m not really sure why though. As I’ll mention briefly, I did find the beginning a bit slow or confusing at times, but I still was enjoying this book overall. I think my reading slump of August has continued into September, unfortunately, and it’s made it difficult for me to fully get into the book and to finish it in a reasonable amount of time.
The first thing I’ll say is that the chapters in the first half of this book were so long. My Kindle was telling me that every chapter was going to take 45 minutes to read. They could have been shorter, especially since a lot of the chapters were broken up into smaller sections. Why not just have each one of those sections be a chapter?
The book was also a bit confusing at times, especially when it came to people’s names. This could just be cultural ignorance on my part because I’m not used to the names used in Ancient Egypt. But a lot of people were named very similar names and there were a couple of characters who were referred to by a couple different names. It took me awhile to be able to distinguish between all the different characters. There is a list of characters at the beginning of the book which may have helped with my confusion if I had actually used it… but unfortunately, reading an eBook makes it difficult to switch back and forth between the list in the beginning and the page you’re currently reading.
I have to say, though… I loved getting to see Ancient Egypt. I find that setting incredibly interesting but I don’t read a lot of books set in Ancient Egypt. I would have liked to actually see more of what life was like for an average citizen, but I also loved seeing what life was like as royalty. So I can’t complain too much about that.
I give the author a lot of credit for the amount of research that went into this. It is so, so evident that she spent a ton of time researching Ancient Egypt and this family in particular. I can’t imagine how time-consuming all of it was.
For me, this story didn’t pick up and become really interesting until after An’s father died and Tut becomes Pharoah. (Sorry if you think this is a spoiler, but come on. History, people.) An’s thrust into a much more prominent role and the story becomes less of her telling us what’s happening to her family and more of her actually experiencing things. The ending was especially phenomenal. It was action-packed and filled with suspense that kept me wanting to keep reading and reading.
One of my absolute favorite things was getting to see An and Tut together. They have such a great friendship that then makes way for a romantic relationship once Tut becomes Pharoah. And despite the love triangle between An, Tut, and another guy, I really did like the relationship between An and Tut. Romance aside, you can tell that they both really care about each other. They have some tough spots here and there as any two people do, but I was just so interested in their relationship.
This actually brings me to a couple more complaints… Firstly, I did think the love triangle was really unnecessary. I’m actually someone who enjoys most love triangles, but this one just didn’t make sense to me. It seemed like it was there just to cause problems and inner turmoil for An. And honestly, with the life she had, I think she had enough conflict without the love triangle.
The other thing that I didn’t like so much was that An and Tut sometimes seemed way too mature for their age. There are scenes where An is around 9 years old and she’s just so reflective and talking about the value of love and respect and all these things that I just can’t imagine any 9-year-old thinking that deeply about. Maybe her childhood and her position in her society did make her more mature, but it still didn’t seem completely realistic.
I thoroughly enjoyed the aspects of religion that were in the book. Ancient Egyptian polytheism is represented here (as is their brief time of monotheism, since that was led by An’s family) and there are actually some elements from more modern and mainstream religions thrown into it as well. It was incredibly interesting to see all of these different religious elements co-existing in the same story.
Some things that happen in the book are really hard to read about. While Else doesn’t go into too much detail, there are scenes of abuse, including sexual abuse towards a child. Even though it’s “normal” considering the time period, it could still be quite triggering for some people so I wanted to make sure you’re all aware of that.
Overall, this is a pretty solid book, but one that definitely has its flaws. If you’re someone who enjoys reading about Ancient Egypt or you’re perhaps looking to learn more about what life may have been like (for royalty at least), you may want to take a look at this book. I’m glad to have read it and it has sparked an interest for me in King Tut and his life and family.