Check out the Pharaoh Queens trilogy, a three-book set of historical novels!
Pharaoh Queens Trilogy
The Pharaoh Queens trilogy is a set of three books centered on historical events in 18th Dynasty Egypt. Since the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in the early 1900’s, people have been fascinated about the lives of these mysterious kings who left behind so many riches in the archaeological record. Book one, The Pharaoh’s Destiny, tells the tale of Queen Hatshepsut, the woman called the first known famous woman in the world. Book two is called The Pharaoh’s Decree, and gives the reader a chance to learn more about Nefertiti, whose famous “bust” statue in the Berlin museum leads her to be called the most beautiful woman in the world. Book three is The Pharaoh’s Love, and centers around not the famous King Tut, but his almost invisible wife, Ankesenamun.
The Pharaoh’s Destiny (Pharaoh Queens 1), a new historical romance novel coming in 2017!
Get ready for the next great novel from author Markie Madden! The Pharaoh’s Destiny is a new historical novel set in Egypt in 1400 B.C. Everyone’s heard of Nefertiti and Cleopatra, but one woman has set herself apart as being the first notable woman in all of history!
Hatshepsut is the daughter of a king, forced upon his death to marry her half-brother. He could only claim the throne by means of Hatshepsut’s full royal blood. After a short reign, King Thutmose II dies, leaving Hatshepsut a widow. However, she must act as co-regent to a stepson who shares her husband’s name. The new boy king is only 2 years old, and unable to rule until he has come of age.
History knows little for certain when it comes to this remarkable woman. After 7 years as co-regent, Hatshepsut is the first woman in Egypt’s history to be crowned as king. There are no laws or taboos preventing a woman from being king, except for the fact there’s no precedence. Queens had been co-regents, though not crowned king, several times in their history.
Depending on the scholar, Hatshepsut reigned as king for 20 or 22 years, one of the most peaceful and prosperous times Egypt had seen. At her death, her stepson, Thutmose III, ascended to the throne, and Egypt continued on its destiny.
25 years after Hatshepsut’s death, the archaeological record shows an attempt to completely remove any evidence of Hatshepsut’s reign as king. Images carved into stone in her monuments were methodically chipped away. Those of her as Queen still remain. Who could have done such a thing, and why?
Take a step back in time with this novel, and immerse yourself in a tale of intrigue in an era which still inspires us to this day!
The Pharaoh’s Destiny (Pharaoh Queens 1)
The year is 1477 B.C.E. and history is about to change…
Hatshepsut, the Great King’s Wife, is thrust into a world of intrigue and politics when her husband, Pharaoh Thutmose, dies suddenly, leaving Egypt with an heir who is barely two years old. The Queen must step into the role of leader, and there are few whom she can trust.
When Hatshepsut is crowned as Pharaoh, she grooms her daughter, Neferure, to take the place of heir, rather than Thutmose’s infant son from another woman. Neferure, though young, is still older than the boy who should by all rights be king.
The future of Egypt rests in the hands of a single woman, the most powerful woman in the ancient world. Can Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s people accept her unorthodox reign, and her plans to usurp the men’s place as rulers of a Kingdom, decreeing that only women are suitable leaders?
Read the first chapter of The Pharaoh’s Destiny (Queen Pharaohs 1):
The room was stifling, despite the palace slaves waving their large fans of woven palm fronds to and fro. The open windows only allowed in the arid, dusty musk of the desert and the wet scent of the Nile river, the lifeblood of Egypt, flowing between its banks nearby. In the room, it seemed life itself was frozen in time, yet outside the palace walls, the sounds of city life could faintly be heard, of families preparing the evening meal, children laughing, and people tending their animals for the coming night.
Within the airless chamber, the woman paced back and forth, her thin linen sheath dress clinging to her pale, perspiring skin. The dress, two criss-crossing shoulder panels covering her ample breasts and back, was gathered at the waist with a thick, incredibly decorated belt, and hung straight from her waist to the floor. Two slits from ankle to knee on either side facilitated walking. When she moved, her leather sandals peeked out from the linen. Her deep red hair, braided in a thick rope that hung just past her shoulders, swung gracefully from side to side. Her eyes, a rich honey brown, a color unusual for women of her time, were narrowed and troubled beneath the bright azure eyeshadow and deep black eyeliner she wore.
“My Lady, I am sorry. There is nothing more I can do here.” The healer spoke in hushed tones with the air of one who has grown accustomed to delivering bad news. “Whether he lives or dies is in the hands of the gods now. But I do not think he will wake again.”
Hatshepsut turned toward the low bed. The figure of her husband and half-brother, King of Misr, what would later become known as Egypt, was wan and unmoving. His skin, once the color of dark coffee, now held the grayish aura of death. His hair was damp and matted with sweat. His fever, raging over three days now, and in the heat of summer, was a terrible threat to his life. Even when the servants constantly washed his body with cool water from the river, he still remained flaming hot to the touch. For several minutes, she watched his chest rise and fall with his breath, slow and shallow, dreading the moment it would cease. Finally, she commanded, “Leave me!” Her voice held the tone of one who assumes they will be obeyed without question.
The physician bowed low, motioning to his assistant, who gathered the scattered potions and tools into a woven basket. Without a word, they slipped out of the Pharaoh’s chambers, leaving only the King, his wife, and one other in the room.
She paced again, never straying far from her husband’s bed. Sete, her most trusted guard, stood quietly at the door; his eyes alternated between watching her and glancing to the side, as if he listened to sounds in the hallway. He wore the shendyt, a traditional linen kilt favored by Egyptian men, but his chest was bare except for the gold collar and pendant over his heart, carved with the solar disk, the sun supported by a pair of bull’s horns. His khopesh, the short, curved sword, hung at his waist, along with a jeweled dagger on which his left hand rested. He was the picture of an able-bodied protector. He was bound to the queen and to her alone; his duty, were it to come to it, could include protecting her from her own husband, should the King ever pose a threat to her. Eventually, he could remain silent no longer.
“My Queen.” His voice was a reverent whisper, as if he thought he could disturb the Pharaoh by speaking. “We must not let our guard down. Whomever had the courage to make such a bold attempt on the King’s life will not show you any mercy.”
“What of the boy?” Hatshepsut’s voice was subdued.
“He is safe,” Sete replied. “He is with his mother and the other ladies of the harem.”
“Good. Thutmose the younger must be protected at all costs.” Hatshepsut looked at Sete, her light-colored eyes boring into his deep brown ones. “After all, he is the only heir, even at his young age.”
“He will not be able to take the throne,” Sete protested with a hiss of indignation. “The child is only two years old!”
“I know!” For the first time, there was a touch of fear in the woman’s voice, fear and uncertainty. “Sete, what am I to do?” But the man only shook his head. He was a palace guard, and a Queen’s guard at that; Sete was no Vizier to be advising the Pharaoh. Or the co-regent, for that matter. “It is of no consequence,” Hatshepsut decided. “For my husband is not yet walking among the gods in the afterlife. Perhaps, all this worry is needless.”
Hatshepsut returned to her husband’s side, pulling a small cloth from a basin of water and twisting it to remove the excess liquid. Gently, she ran the cool dampness over the elder Thutmose’s face, watching his eyes move under their closed lids. She wondered if he was having fever dreams, and hoped they were not unpleasant. Her heart sank as she watched the frail form of her husband, her brother. Though their marriage was arranged by their parents, as was usual for Egypt’s royalty, she had grown to love the man who took her as his wife. Though always weak, he was a gentle and caring soul, and she knew the physical world would become a little colder when he walked forever in the afterlife.
Thutmose, the second of the royal family to claim the name of their father, was never completely healthy. The spice slipped in his food four days ago wasn’t considered a poison, but to someone with the Pharaoh’s numerous existing ailments, it could potentially act as such. Even had a servant performed a ritual tasting, something Thutmose always protested, the spice still would have reached his mouth. Hatshepsut knew the palace healers, who nursed him through illness after illness, had, indeed, done all they could. Just as she knew, at the temple on the other side of Thebes, the priests of Amun were offering up whatever sacrifices they could to the gods, in hopes of extending their king’s life. I must be the only one who feels it is all for naught, the Queen thought. For buried deep in her heart was the knowledge that surely her King would die, a knowing sent directly to her from her spiritual father, Amun himself.
She looked up from the still form and locked eyes with Sete again. “Send for Amethu-Ahmose,” she ordered. “Bring the Vizier.”
Sete bowed. “Right away, my Lady.” He stepped from the room, and she could hear the sounds of low conversation from the hall. Only a moment passed, and Sete returned. “I have sent one of the King’s guards for him, my Queen.” She gave him a stern look of reproach. “Forgive me, but I will not leave you unprotected for even a moment.”
She sighed. “I do not have the same reaction to the Melegueta pepper as did my husband. It is a commonly used plant.”
“Of course not, my Lady. However, there is more than one way to bring harm.”
Again, Hatshepsut sighed. He is only doing his duty, she thought. Let him be. She returned her attention to the Pharaoh.
She disposed of the basin of water, now grown warm from the heat of the Pharaoh as well as the room, dumping it in a large chamber pot, and poured fresh, cool water from a long-necked clay flask. As she dipped the cloth in the bowl, a knock sounded at the door. Immediately, Sete came to full attention. “Open the door.” She sat on the edge of the low bed, taking one of the Pharaoh’s still, clammy hands in hers.
Sete swung open the heavy door, and the Vizier strode in. He was a short, stocky man who wore the long robe and cloak favored by priests, as well as those who sought to seem more important than they actually were. Amethu-Ahmose was bald and clean-shaven, and his flabby arms were unaccustomed to any sort of manual labor. He was assigned to the position of Vizier during her father’s reign, and merely carried on during that of her husband. If I am to rule this kingdom, for however long, that will be one of the first things I change, she vowed. The Vizier always made her uncomfortable, as if she somehow failed to live up to his high expectations.
“What news, my Queen?” Amethu-Ahmose’s voice was high-pitched and nasal. Soft, just like the rest of him, she thought in disgust.
“Vizier, the healers can do no more. It is up to the King now, both him and the gods.”
“What do you require of me?” He asked.
“Word of this is not to get out.” She spoke sternly, giving him a direct gaze with narrowed eyes to emphasize her words. “To anyone, other than the physicians and the King’s guards. He is not to be disturbed, even by his… harem.” The word left a dirty taste in Hatshepsut’s mouth. She was, of course, aware of her husband’s other women, and the fact that one of those women had given the Pharaoh a son, an heir, when she herself as Great King’s Wife was unable to. Young though he was, the small Thutmose would be next in line for the throne, if the unthinkable happened. In that event, however, Hatshepsut was determined to make a change. Amun already showed her what would come to be, during one of many rituals she performed alone in the temple.
“Of course, my Lady.” The Vizier bowed to her.
“You will tell anyone who asks that the King is suffering a relapse of one of his old ailments. There will be no other discussion outside this room.”
“As you wish.”
“Now, send me Neferure.”
Amethu-Ahmose bowed again and, after a solitary glance at the deathly ill Pharaoh, took his leave.
The moon was sliding behind the palace wall by the time Neferure entered her father’s suite. “I apologize, mother,” she said, a bit out of breath. “Master Ahmose had me practicing my glyphs.”
“It is important,” her mother replied, opening her arms to her six-year-old daughter. Such gestures of affection were not seemly in public, but under the selective gaze of Sete, Hatshepsut felt no qualms about hugging the girl. The child was dressed in a simple tunic that hung to her knees. It was nothing more than a piece of linen, folded over, with a hole cut through the fold for the head. An elaborately braided and beaded belt secured the tunic. Her jet black hair was shaved close to the scalp, except for the typical child’s sidetail hanging just above her right ear, her mark of royalty. The tied hair hung past her shoulder and the tip curled in a loose spiral.
“How is he, mother?” Her dark eyes begged for good news.
“I do not know,” Hatshepsut answered. “The physicians can do no more. You must pray to the gods.”
“Oh, yes, mother! I have been.”
“But, I sent for you because you must be prepared. The King may die, and if that is the will of the gods, there is nothing anyone can do.”
“He will live on with Osiris and the gods in the afterlife, right mother? Master Ahmose has been teaching me about the gods.”
“It is the King’s destiny to walk with the gods forever.” Hatshepsut spoke absently, quoting religious scripture she learned in the temple. “They are mortal gods, only given to us for a short time. It is their duty to make certain our people still worship the gods, that ma’at is preserved, and they will carry our words back to the gods when they make the journey from this world.”
The dark eyes welled with tears. “Does that mean we can’t be sad?”
“No, my child. Grief is a gift given to us by the gods. It is much better to have the sadness on the outside than on the inside. And, a grief shared is a grief lessened.”
“You’re right, mother.” The young girl looked at her father. “Will he wake up? Will I be able to say goodbye? I mean, if he—” She seemed unable to voice the word.
Hatshepsut shook her head. “The healers do not think so.”
“What do you think?”
The Queen thought about it for a moment, wondering how she could make her only child understand something she herself barely comprehended. “I think… I think, perhaps, he is like in a dream. I believe if you were to speak to him now, he would hear you.” She helped Neferure to sit on the bed next to her father. The girl curled up next to his side, put one arm across his chest as if to protect him, and whispered something in his ear. Hatshepsut’s heart broke for the child, and for herself, if what she suspected would actually come to pass. For in Egypt, the role of leader was always reserved for men, passed from father to son, royal men, no matter if they were able to function in the position of King.
A select few in the palace, Sete and Senenmut, the man who handled all Hatshepsut’s finances, being two of them, had known for many years most of the orders from the Pharaoh were actually put in place by the Queen herself. The king was often too ill to perform his duties, and so she stepped up in his place. Thutmose the elder had been only too happy to allow her the day-to-day responsibilities of running the kingdom. Their father, the first Pharaoh to take the name of Thutmose, had essentially named them co-rulers before his death, in any case, and everyone knew he favored his daughter, born to his Great King’s Wife, over his son, born to a harem woman. Their father encouraged their marriage in an attempt to legitimize his son and preserve the family’s royal blood.
Hatshepsut shook her head as she stroked her daughter’s face in comfort. No, my daughter. I have better plans for you, better than forcing you to marry a child, a child almost a lifetime younger than you. I swear by the gods, this will not be your fate. As far as she knew, no Queen had ever attempted to change the course of her own destiny, at least, not in the way she intended to.
The Queen stayed at her husband’s bedside through the long desert night, watching their daughter, who had fallen asleep at his side. Hatshepsut did her best to cool his raging body with water from the basin, but she knew she was only making his end as comfortable as possible. Toward morning, his breathing became shallow and more labored, and she sent for the physicians, and Neferure’s nurse, to take the girl to her own bed. There was no reason the child should witness her father’s death. While the healers did their work, she glanced out the window, taking in the midnight blue of predawn, turning pink at the extreme eastern horizon. It was time to wake the god.
The Pharaoh’s Decree (Pharaoh Queens 2)
It’s 1353 B.C.E. King Tiye, spouse of Amenhotep, dies, leaving young Nefertiti as the only heir to a throne rife with controversy. Tiye has moved the capital of Egypt to a new city dedicated to a single god, Aten, the Sun Ray. This move created dissent among her people, who were not ready to leave polytheism behind.
Nefertiti must fight to overcome the prejudices left behind from her stepmother’s reign, and reunite the kingdom under the old doctrines. As soon as King Tiye is buried in Akhetaten, Nefertiti abandons the old capital and returns to Thebes.
Read the first chapter of The Pharaoh’s Decree (Pharaoh Queens 2)
The girl paced the confines of the small room. She was dressed in a thin linen sheath dress, but still, sweat pooled on her skin. Her long black hair was plaited in a rope hanging down her back. Leather sandals covered her feet, barely peeking out from under the dress, and they made no sound as she walked. The airless chamber was stifling, and she wished desperately she could escape to one of the palace gardens. But, her life irrevocably changed in the past hour, and such luxuries were no longer available to her. She begged the servants and physicians to give her a few minutes alone, and retreated to her own rooms. Hours of holding vigil at the King’s bedside took its toll on her, and she was exhausted, both mentally and physically.
Eleven-year-old Nefertiti was the daughter of King Tiye, a child born to the Great King’s Husband, Amenhotep, and a harem woman, the only daughter left to carry on her stepmother’s dynasty. In the kingdom of Misr, what would later become known as Egypt, women were the carriers of royal blood, and as such, ruling the country fell upon them. Though she wasn’t an actual blood child of Tiye, she was still the King’s heir, and as such, the crown of Misr passed to her upon the death of the Pharaoh.
Nefertiti finally sank down to the low couch, recessed in the middle of the room belonging to the King’s Daughter. Grief welled up; even though she didn’t get along with Tiye, she was still her stepmother, and Pharaoh, and her unexpected death hit the young girl hard. Tears leaked from her eyes, running down her pale, coffee-and-cream-colored skin. Nefertiti had never felt more alone in her entire life; her father Amenhotep passed away when she was seven, and she had no family other than King Tiye. Now, I have no one, she thought in despair.
A knock at the door sounded. “Enter,” Nefertiti commanded.
“I apologize for disturbing you.” It was Nakhtpaaten, Vizier of Upper Egypt, and her stepmother’s trusted adviser.
“Vizier,” she said by way of greeting.
“I am sorry for your loss,” Nakht said.
“It is a sad day for all of us,” Nefertiti replied. “Is she in the hands of the priests of Anubis?”
“She is, my Lady. The mummification process has begun.”
Nefertiti glanced away, not sure she wanted to know exactly what would happen to King Tiye’s body. “What happens now?” Her voice was a whisper, and she trembled with fear.
“It is your responsibility to bury her with proper honors,” Nakht told her. “Her tomb in the royal cemetery is mostly complete. We need to instruct the carvers to inscribe the date on the walls. Then, the painters will have to speed up their work.”
“Yes, please set that in motion, Nakht, thank you.”
She made a move to dismiss him, but Nakht raised a hand. “There are other things we need to discuss.”
Nefertiti sighed, then stood to pour two mugs of sweet red wine; she knew this would come, sooner or later. She handed one to Nakht, and drank from the other. “What is it we need to discuss?”
“Why, your kingship, of course.” Nakht raised his mug to her as if in a toast. “You are the only heir to Misr’s throne. We must prepare you to be crowned.”
“Do we need to talk about this now?” Nefertiti felt tears in her eyes, threatening to fall. “Our King has just passed on to the Heavens.”
“Misr cannot long survive without a King, my Lady.” Nakht looked directly in her eyes to emphasize his point. “Our enemies hover at the far reaches of the kingdom, waiting for an opportunity such as this. It is up to you to fulfill your destiny.”
“I would like to bury my mother first, Nakht,” Nefertiti said. She took a drink. “If I recall correctly, I cannot take the crown until the previous King is properly interred, anyway.”
“You are right, my Lady. But, you need time to prepare, and there are things you must learn.”
“Tomorrow, Vizier.” Nefertiti walked to the window. She noticed the sky turning pale on the eastern horizon. The death of the Pharaoh meant nothing; the sun would still rise, regardless of whether Misr had a King or not. Life would still go on, especially for the common people and elite class of Egypt. Only those in the highest level of the court would be affected by the King’s death, at least, for the next several moon cycles. “I cannot think about that right now.”
The Vizier softened. “I understand. Please, call on me if you should need of anything.”
“Yes, Vizier, I will. Thank you.” She used a tone of dismissal she often heard her stepmother use.
He drained his mug, and set it on the table next to the couch. “Again, I am sorry for your loss, my Lady.”
She nodded, and after the door closed behind him, drained her wine. Nefertiti thought about going for another mug, but knew even the alcohol could not numb the ache she felt in her heart.
“Mekhare,” Nefertiti called to her nurse.
“Yes, my Lady?”
“Go and summon my brothers. I need to speak with them immediately.”
“Right away, my Lady.”
This might be the most difficult part of Nefertiti’s night. Her brothers and stepbrothers, secure in the nursery away from the main part of court life, would likely have not heard of their mother’s death. Nefertiti was the oldest child, the heir to the throne, and it was her responsibility to break the news.
Mekhare returned to Nefertiti’s suite, along with the girl’s young siblings. The five boys ranged in age from three to eight seasons old. Nefertiti welcomed them to her room, and said, “Please, come sit next to me.” The boys, from oldest to youngest, were named Sennefer, Nehasy, Sekhemkare, Pamose, and Imhotep.
“What’s going on, Nefertiti?” Sennefer asked. Mekhare picked up Imhotep, the youngest boy, and cuddled him in her lap. He, most of all, would barely understand what happened.
Nefertiti took a breath and tried to gather her thoughts. “Just a short time ago, King Tiye crossed into the heavens, where she will ride across the sky with the gods each day.”
“Our mother is… dead?” Sennefer’s face betrayed his shock.
“Yes, I am afraid so,” the girl replied. Mekhare cuddled the baby, gripping him tight.
Seven-year-old Nehasy asked, “Can we see her?”
Nefertiti shook her head. “The King is with the priests, now. No one is allowed to see her.”
“What will happen now, Nefertiti?” Sennefer asked.
She sighed. “I don’t know, Sennefer.”
“You will be our next King, Nefertiti.” Though Sennefer could only count eight seasons, he was close to what was adulthood in their society. He, more than the other boys, was more aware of how things worked in their world; Sennefer was already training to become a General in Egypt’s army. “It is the way it has always been.”
“Eventually. Nothing will happen until we bury the King.”
“I will help you in any way I can,” Sennefer said, giving Nefertiti a swell of pride at how mature the boy sounded.
Mekhare took the children back to the nursery, leaving Nefertiti alone again with her thoughts. King Tiye was an aberration in her world. She turned her back on the old gods, worshiping only the sun disk Aten. Tiye even moved the capital of Egypt from Thebes to a new city built in the middle of the desert, Akhetaten. Tiye required all her subjects to worship the Aten, though Nefertiti knew many of the elite court members residing at the palace prayed to the old gods in secret. Nefertiti, though born at Akhetaten, had traveled to Thebes many times with the King, and she much preferred the hustle and bustle of the old capital to the severe isolationism of the city dedicated to the sun disk.
A knock at the door brought Nefertiti back to the present. “Enter.”
It was Parennefer, High Priest of the Aten, though he was old enough to have been in the priesthood of Amun, when the seat of Egypt resided in Thebes. “My Lady,” he said by way of greeting.
“What can I do for you, High Priest?”
“We must discuss the burial of the King,” he said as he took a seat on the couch.
Nefertiti sighed. “I suppose we must.”
“My Lady, the King’s… religious preferences create difficulty.”
“Yes, I know.”
“She worshiped the Aten. I think we should bury her accordingly.”
“If it were up to me, she would be taken back to Thebes and put to rest in the Valley of the Kings.”
“But she already has a tomb here,” Parennefer said. “It is nearly complete.”
“As I said, if it were up to me. But it is not. She will be buried here, as that was her wish. But, I swear to you, she will be the only King to be interred in the Wadi here.”
“You have plans to return to Thebes?”
Nefertiti nodded. “I hate it here! I always have. This is not where we belong, and soon, I will have the power I need to bring Misr back to glory.”
The Pharaoh’s Love (Pharaoh Queens 3)
Young Ankesenamun is destined to marry her brother, Tutankhamun, when their mother, King Nefertiti, travels to the heavens with the gods. Ankesenamun, however, is is love with a common man, Sete. Will Ankesenamun follow tradition, and marry her brother is is proper in the royal family? Or will she break the rules, like many ancestors before her, and set Egypt upon a new and glorious path?
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