Monday, November 3, 2014

The Woman Who Would Be King


Hatshepsut was the daughter of a general who became king. She was married to her brother, but failed to produce a male heir to continue her family's dynasty. When she was twenty she had her coronation as king, and would reign for twenty-two years. Under her reign Ancient Egypt saw one of its most prolific building periods. A few decades after her death, many of her images were destroyed, in an attempt to erase her reign.

I was very interested in this book when I heard it was coming out. I like reading about women who achieved great things in history. Hatshepsut has always been an intriguing figure to me, and one I wanted to learn more about. Unfortunately, I do not think this book was the right one for me. I did not like how the information was presented.

The main issues I had were: the amount of speculations in the book, the modern thoughts that were sometimes applied to these historical figures, and the repetitive nature of some of the statements. I understand when writing about a person that lived so long ago, it can be difficult to find sources for their whole life. I am okay with some speculation based on what little information we have, but I was not looking for a whole book of maybes that often seemed inconsistent with statements in the next paragraph. A theory would be given about a person or event which would be followed in the next paragraph by a statement "we cannot really know if this happened or if this person was alive at that time", and this started to bother me.

Near the end of the book, it seemed to me the author was finally stating what she thought happened based on clear evidence. I think there were other parts where this happened, but it got lost in all the speculations. I liked the part where she was discussing Thutmose III, and the actions he took to destroy anything having to do with Hatshepsut. I was very interested in the author's explanations for why this happened. I think this section of the book illustrated what I was looking for in this book.

I think the author was really trying to understand who Hatshepsut was as a ruler and a person, but at least here, I did not always see the evidence for her claims. In the author's note she says "Many historians will no doubt accuse me of fantasy: inventing emotions and feelings for which I have no evidence. And they will be right." While this method helps some people understand a historical figure, it did not really work for me. I think it would have worked better if the author had tried to write a biography(even if it ended up really short) or a historical fiction book where she could explore the emotions of her subject, without trying to back up every thought or emotion she was portraying. The combining of the two ended up leaving the book a little uncertain to me.

I read this book as an ebook on my Nook. The only problem that I had was that the Family Tree image did not show up correctly on my Nook. Part of the image was cut off, so the whole image could not be seen.

**I received a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review**

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book sooner than I would have gotten to it, or heard about otherwise.

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