Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

Nefertiti by Nick Drake

Just finished Nefertiti by Nick Drake.

Known archaeological artifacts and places are nicely woven into the story. Amarna, the tombs, the houses and walls, implements, cosmetics, toys, food and drink, boats, the river, animals, scrolls and the scriptorium and offices, the bust with one eye complete – he brings these to life. Being immersed in the physical place of ancient Egypt was worth the read.

The politics are very intriguing. What must have happened amongst the royalty and the priesthood in this amazing culture when Akhenaten tried to replace polytheism with monotheism? And what happened to Nefertiti? The problem with Drake’s characters is that they use Modern Western thinking and idioms. He knows the word Ma’at, even used it at least once. But his hero prefers the chaos and disorderly life of the streets and all the intelligent players have motivations indistinguishable from Modern skeptical atheists. The Modern worldview of his characters was a constant distraction.

His plot is interesting but requires a deus ex machina; I find it almost impossible to believe the historical Egyptians would have responded as written by Drake to its intrusion. He smoothly introduced a number of characters, some of whom become important and some who remain minor.

His strength seems to me to be weaving historical artifacts into an interesting tale. His weakness seems to appreciating an ancient worldview and creating characters and motivations that depend on it.