Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Book Tour Review: Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton

Title: Daughter of the Gods
Author: Stephanie Thornton
Genre: historical fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 448
Published: expected May 6 2014
Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Rating: 5/5

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 Horus 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....

Combining one of my favorite historical women with one of my favorite historical fiction authors, Stephanie Thornton's close look into the life of the Egyptian Pharaoh Hatshepsut is as well-written and satisfying as her first novel of the Empress Theodora, The Secret History. With that same detailed and meticulously researched approach to writing historical fiction, Stephanie Thornton does not miss a step with her second novel about history's forgotten women. It's a dense and thorough examination of the Eighteenth Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh, but the brisk pace, complex characters, and knowledgeable writing make those 450 pages feel rather more like 200.

Hatshepsut's regency and then reign has always been a curious case in the history of the Pharaohs, and her unusual story is more than apt for reproduction in the right hands. Through Thornton's able and clever writing, Hatshepsut comes to life in Daughter of the Gods. That life wasn't always easy -- like Theodora, Hatshepsut experiences some truly traumatic events, ones that the book doesn't shy away from -- but her story is interesting and compelling to read. To go along with her three-dimensional main character, Stephanie Thornton also created a vivid, breathing version of ancient Egypt here in Daughter of the Gods. Hatshepsut may feel the least like a character and the most like a person, but it helps that the world she lives in is rendered in such careful detail.

The author does take some liberties with dates/events, as most historical fiction authors do. But the difference here is that the changes Thornton made serve to make the book more streamlined, with a consistent plot. The additions and the creations included (like the unconfirmed-if-thoroughly-believable-romance) all serve to make Daughter of the Gods a better story. Though there is no absolute confirmation that rekhyt Senenmut was anything more than Hatshepsut's adviser and architectural collaborator, Thornton sells the love story through the characters themselves. When the historical record is unsure, Thornton's ability to create a plausible scenario is unparalleled. 

Ancient Egypt has always been a passion of mine and so rarely have I enjoyed a jaunt to this period as much as I did with Daughter of the Gods. A detailed, thoroughly researched piece of fiction, Stephanie Thornton's followup to her beloved debut is just as impressive and imaginative. No second-book slump here; Daughter of the Gods is a vivid portrayal of a fascinating woman and Thornton more than does Hatshepsut justice.

2 comments:

  1. fabulous review -- couldn't agree more. Delicious, delightful novel!

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  2. Great review I agree! Not usually into such old stories, meaning the era, but something about this is really intriguing. Historical Fiction is what I read so not a stretch. Currently reading Julian Stone's Strange Birth, it's in the 1950's a ways away from ancient Egypt, but really good. juliandavidstone.com is the author's site, it's worth a look! Great review again, love your site!

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