Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton

Daughter of the Gods by Stephanie Thornton(Cover picture courtesy of Stephanie Thornton’s website.)

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….

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook through NetGalley for the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]

There are very few books that literally take my breath away when I finish reading them but Daughter of the Gods is one of them.

One of the things that struck me most about this book was Stephanie Thornton’s amazing writing style.  She can do the big dramatic scenes without making them seem forced.  She can also slow down and describe things so the reader truly feels like they’re transported back in time.  And most importantly of all, she can actually hold the reader’s attention for nearly 500 pages because she slowly builds up tension throughout the novel.  It’s not the fastest-paced novel ever but her writing is so compelling that you won’t want to put it down.

Stephanie Thornton’s portrayal of Hatshepsut is pretty much how I imagined the real person.  She’s strong and willful but fiercely devoted to her people and preserving the welfare of Egypt even at a cost to herself.  Her love for Senenmut develops slowly but once she realizes she loves him she does so with all of her heart.  Senenmut himself is also an interesting character, but Hatshepsut tends to steal the scene for most of the novel.  Of course she can be stubborn on occasion and her stubbornness costs her dearly sometimes, but that flaw only makes her more human.  Hatshepsut is a character even modern readers can relate with despite the huge cultural differences like the fact she marries her half-brother and worships many different gods and goddesses.

We don’t know much about Hatshepsut’s reign because her monuments and writings were destroyed in a systematic campaign to squash the idea that a woman could ever be Pharaoh.  But where the facts are known, Stephanie Thornton generally sticks to them and fills in the gaps in our knowledge of her reign with believable events.  Even when she does deviate from the historical record (which was rare) she is able to justify it within the context of the story as well as in her historical note.  The changes she made were to improve the story and that’s why Daughter of the Gods is now one of my favourite historical fiction novels.

Even if you’re not a huge fan of ancient Egypt, I can’t recommend Daughter of the Gods enough.  Stephanie Thornton is able to bring ancient Egypt to life for novices and experts alike.  You’ll fall in love with her characters and experience their triumphs and heartaches right alongside them.  And you definitely won’t be able to put the book down.

Seriously, just go buy this book.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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