Sphinx’s Princess: Ancient Egypt comes to life

historical fantasy book review Esther Friesner Sphinx's PrincessSphinx’s Princess by Esther Friesner

Nefertiti has had a wonderful childhood, living with her adoring father, stepmother, and half sister. She is the beauty of her small country town on the Nile River, and has the gift of dance as well as a desire to learn to do something almost no women can do — write and read.

But Nefertiti’s life takes a sharp curve when her aunt, the great Pharaoh’s wife, decides that she is beautiful enough to wed to her son Thutmose, the crown prince of Egypt. Before she knows it, Nefertiti is torn from her home and family and living in the royal palace as a princess. Thutmose is not as nice as he has been made out to be by her aunt, however, and Nefertiti soon finds herself in the middle of a plot that involves Thutmose gaining power, and that could endanger her own life and the lives of the ones she loves.

I was pretty much glued to Sphinx’s Princess right from the start. I fell in love with Esther Friesner’s ability to bring ancient Egypt to life before my very eyes. Friesner certainly has a gift to bring the ancient world into the present for her readers. Her descriptions of the temples, the great Nile River, and the characters’ reverence for the Gods and Goddesses are so vivid and clear it’s as if she’s recalling something in a diary as opposed to writing a work of fiction. The only limits of this story were the ones put up by my own imagination. It was fantastic.

Despite her ability to bring the ancient world to life for young adult as well as adult readers, I did have a problem with the ending of the book. The story came to an abrupt halt. Well, that’s actually too kind; it was more like the book smashed into a brick wall head-on going 80 mph. I felt like I was right in the middle of the action and the plot was just coming to fruition when all of a sudden I was closing the back cover. It’s almost like Friesner was about to go over a certain page limit and had to find a way to end the story in a hurry. After experiencing the magic and bewilderment of the story up to that point, the end was a huge let down.

There was also no indication of whether there will be a second book featuring Nefertiti. I sincerely hope there will be. Not knowing is going to drive me crazy. Overall I enjoyed Sphinx’s Princess and will definitely be reading more of Friesner, but the abrupt ending keeps me from giving it that 5th star simply because I felt like I was served a 5-course meal that had no dessert. I was left wanting more and I have no idea if I’ll get it or not.


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JULIE WAINEO, one of our earliest guest reviewers, earned an MBA at Bowling Green State University. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a minor in French. Now living in Virginia with her husband and dog (Clover), Julie is an avid reader of not only fantasy, but historical fiction, the occasional “chick lit,” and children’s literature.

View all posts by Julie Waineo (guest)

One comment

  1. Good review, now I want to go check this one out.

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