Notice: The interview and giveaway for May will be posting sometime soon!! Sorry for inconvenience!
Daughter of the Gods, Review~
If you put the words book and Ancient Egypt in the same sentence, then you have my undivided attention. So you can imagine how excited I was when I heard last year that one of my favorite debut historical novelists and new writing friend, the awesome Stephanie Thornton, was writing a book on Hatshepsut, one of the most successful Pharoahs in Egyptian history! Always a huge interest of Stephanie’s since childhood, I knew if she wrote Daughter of the Gods as well as she wrote The Secret History about Empress Theodora, then Hatshepsut’s Ka would be remembered and understood by our modern world. She succeeded in making the female Pharoah a lasting memory now seared to my heart and mind.
Stephanie does her research well, pours her passions and emotions into her written work, and is becoming quite the historian on forgotten women of the ancient world. What Michelle Moran did for Nefertiti and Nefertari by immortalizing them in engaging and absorbing prose, Stephanie does for us with Hatshepsut. What Stephanie Dray did with her Cleopatra Selene series in terms of being swept away by romance and intrigue, Stephanie Thornton does with Hatshepsut’s story, yet with her own original writing.
Stephanie’s novel is not only well-researched, offering a myriad of information from the 18th dynasty of Ancient Egypt, but highly detailed so that we can feel the heat sear our skin (as well as it being cooled by many ingenious ways), pick the dust from our teeth, savor the morsels of cuisine, and admire and visualize the attire. Stephanie can really set a scene and make us not only spectators, but participants.
Beyond that, her characters are very developed and three-dimensional. We not only have a good understanding of Hatshepsut and feel her many varying degrees of emotions, but Stephanie has a knack also for creating amazing supporting characters such as in Aset, the second wife who becomes her friend, as well as the mothers (hers and of other characters) and the children. In both her books so far, she really does a good job with the dialogue and emotions between mothers and daughters, fathers and daughters, friend who becomes like mom or sister, etc. She never forgets any family member and seems to always have them in the proper place.
In her plot, she has someone to cause intrigue, a love interest that is unwanted and scorned, as well as a romantic interest, one that fully consumes Hatshepsut’s being and steals her heart. The love felt within this story is so endearing, especially given Hatshepsut’s raging personality. As an apple, this romance has each half fitting to make a whole and it’s so beautiful.
With all of this, we have emotional turmoil, intrigue, twists and turns, and by the end we are left bereft due to the loss that such upheaval brings. I was shocked by the end that I didn’t see the finale coming. Then I cried. Then, I had to remember to breathe as I was not. Yet, I am alive to type this, though not fully really wanting to be in the present but still with my nose in that book. I was sad when it ended.
Stephanie doesn’t hold anything back in regards to the battles fought, the lengths that the Egyptians went to on the battlefield or to create fear of revolt. In some historical fantasies, we don’t have as much blunt, visceral knowledge of the blood, torture, dismembering, and the like as in Stephanie’s novel. She takes us down to the main floor (so to speak) of the battle field and offers things that made even this lover of Egyptian history cringe.
I’m glad she did though, as she showed how brutal a world it truly was and how Egypt having a female Pharoah was extraordinary in terms of the playing field. She showed Hatshepsut’s merciful heart and loving heart, but also then showed her strength among men, which led her to be able to successfully declare herself Pharoah at a time a woman could not sit on the Isis Throne. Hatshepsut set a precedent becoming Pharoah, which of course is probably why her history was destroyed years later and her images and buildings removed. It’s sad to think about, especially after all she gave up for Egypt to prosper.
Stephanie’s novel was a fully developed historical biography of what Hatshepsut’s life and reign might have been like. In the writing the novel, even though you know Stephanie admires the woman she is writing about, she didn’t let it bias her. She wrote based on factual history too and let us see all of Hatshepsut’s strengths and weaknesses in her personality. She shows us her vulnerable side as well as her temperamental side. But what she shows best is her independent nature and her ambition. The novel was well-rounded and kept me in emotional suspense as well as plot suspense. She created just enough intrigue to keep me guessing, which propelled me to keep turning the pages.
Stephanie completely captures the amazing woman that is Hatshepsut, leading me down the path of her life, letting me in to feel her success and her loss, her love and her sacrifices. I can’t recommend this book highly enough if you like history from ancient civilizations. Stephanie keeps climbing the ladder of success and is rising to sit upon the book throne of best-loved historical authors along many great writers of the genre. 5 stars!
Be sure to watch for my interview with Stephanie to come soon!!
If you have further interest, Stephanie wrote a guest article about Hatshepsut during my Women in History series, see that HERE!
Daughter of the Gods, Synopsis~
Egypt, 1400s BC. The pharaoh’s pampered second daughter, lively, intelligent Hatshepsut, delights in racing her chariot through the marketplace and testing her archery skills in the Nile’s marshlands. But the death of her elder sister, Neferubity, in a gruesome accident arising from Hatshepsut’s games forces her to confront her guilt…and sets her on a profoundly changed course.
Hatshepsut enters a loveless marriage with her half-brother, Thut, to secure his claim to the Isis Throne and produce a male heir. But it is another of Thut’s wives, the commoner Aset, who bears him a son, while Hatshepsut develops a searing attraction for his brilliant adviser Senenmut. And when Thut suddenly dies, Hatshepsut becomes de facto ruler, as regent to her two-year-old nephew.
Once, Hatshepsut anticipated being free to live and love as she chose. Now she must put Egypt first. Ever daring, she will lead a vast army and build great temples, but always she will be torn between the demands of leadership and the desires of her heart. And even as she makes her boldest move of all, her enemies will plot her downfall….
Once again, Stephanie Thornton brings to life a remarkable woman from the distant past whose willingness to defy tradition changed the course of history.
Praise for Daughter of the Gods~
“Daughter of the Gods is a wonderfully intimate and dramatic evocation of Ancient Egypt, where one headstrong young woman dares to become pharaoh. Stephanie Thornton vividly portrays the heat and the danger, the passion and the heartbreak of Hatshepsut’s struggle, as she defies even the gods to ensure success on the throne of Egypt. A touching love story combines with a thrilling tale of death, courage and political intrigue to produce a superbly researched and powerfully written novel. This is the kind of book that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. A remarkable story, remarkably told.” -Kate Furnivall, author of Shadows on the Nile
“Stephanie Thornton’s heroines are bold, brave, and powerful–they make me want to stand up and cheer!” -Kate Quinn, author of Lady of the Eternal City
“Daughter of the Gods is a full-out, total immersion experience of ancient Egypt. From her moving love affair with a commoner to her fierce and unwavering commitment to Egypt as a female Pharaoh, Hatshepsut crackles with fascinating complexity. Her ka must be grinning with pleasure at this richly textured account of her life, one that is worthy of the great queen herself. “ -Vicky Alvear Shecter, author of Cleopatra’s Moon
“An epic saga that brings ancient Egypt to life with vivid imagery and lovely prose. Stephanie Thornton is a rising star!” -Stephanie Dray, author of Lily of the Nile
Buy the Book~
Author Stephanie Thornton, Biography~
She lives with her husband and daughter in Alaska, where she is at work on her next novel.
The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora is available from NAL/Penguin and Daughter of the Gods: A Novel of Ancient Egypt hit the shelves May 6, 2014.
The Tiger Queens: A Novel of Genghis Khan will publish in Fall 2014.
Tour Schedule with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours:
Tour Hashtags: #DaughteroftheGodsTour #StephanieThornton #Hatshepsut #VirtualBookTour