Egypt's Golden Couple

When Akhenaten and Nefertiti Were Gods on Earth

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Pub Date 01 Nov 2022 | Archive Date 15 Nov 2022


Two celebrated Egyptologists bring to vivid life the intriguing and controversial reign of King Tut's parents.

Akhenaten has been the subject of radically different, even contradictory, biographies. The king has achieved fame as the world's first individual and the first monotheist, but others have seen him as an incestuous tyrant who nearly ruined the kingdom he ruled. The gold funerary mask of his son Tutankhamun and the painted bust of his wife Nefertiti are the most recognizable artifacts from all of ancient Egypt. But who are Akhenaten and Nefertiti? And what can we actually say about rulers who lived more than three thousand years ago?

November 2022 marks the centennial of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun and although "King Tut" is a household name, his nine-year rule pales in comparison to the revolutionary reign of his parents. Akhenaten and Nefertiti became gods on earth by transforming Egyptian solar worship, innovating in art and urban design, and merging religion and politics in ways never attempted before.

Combining fascinating scholarship, detective suspense, and adventurous thrills, Egypt's Golden Couple is a journey through excavations, museums, hieroglyphic texts, and stunning artifacts. From clue to clue, renowned Egyptologists John and Colleen Darnell reconstruct an otherwise untold story of the magnificent reign of Akhenaten and Nefertiti.

Two celebrated Egyptologists bring to vivid life the intriguing and controversial reign of King Tut's parents.

Akhenaten has been the subject of radically different, even contradictory, biographies...

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Featured Reviews

Egypt's Golden Couple: How Akhenaten and Nefertiti Became Gods on Earth by John Darnell; Colleen Darnell is a great nonfiction taking a look at the infamous, complex, and fascinating lives, reign, and influence of these historic rulers.

I have always had a fascination and interest in Egyptology, so I knew quite a bit about this famous duo. However, this book was so enjoyable to read. It is nonfiction and history, but yet read like a delicious historical fiction full of intrigue, suspense, and court shenanigans.

It is an understatement when it is stated that these figures made a pivotal and permanent change and impact on the existence of this empire. The authors did an amazing job presenting their subjects and I highly recommend this for any history fan.

5/5 stars

Thank you NG and St. Martin’s Press for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 11/1/22.

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The lives are Akhenaten and Nefertiti, rulers of Egypt and self-styled living gods, have fascinated people for thousands of years.

Here, Darnell examines their lives, reign, politics and religion, to try and dig through the biases found in so many secondary sources and to see what really can get be pieced together from the primary sources.

The book follows Akhenaten’s life from his parent’s reign before he was born through the curious afterlife of both his body and reputation, each chapter starting with a docu-drama-esque scene imaging a scene from his life.

While getting pretty far into the weeds of what the latest archeology has to say about Akhenaten, Darnell manages to keep the whole book highly readable for anyone, even without a background in ancient Egyptian history.

A fascinating history that sucks in and makes the far distant past highly relatable.

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Well researched, well written. This book gives readers a more well rounded look at the Amarna Period and it’s rulers. This actually would have been a good book to have when I was writing a paper on Nefertiti in grad school.

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Egypt has recently became my love of reading. This book took me right where I wanted to go, learning all the knowledge of Egypt.

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This is a nonfiction book about Akhenaten and Nefertiti. The authors reconstruct what is know about these two and how they became gods on Earth. Great book for those interested in Ancient Egypt and Akhenaten and the cult of Aten specifically.

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I have a long-standing interest in Egyptology. From TV documentaries, to seeing the traveling Tutankhamen exhibit when I was young, to spending hours at the Michal C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta, I have encouraged and fed my curiosity about the Ancient World.

I couldn’t wait to dive into this book. It took longer than normal for me to read it mainly because I drove from Florida to Wisconsin during this time!

I did like the vignettes at the beginning of the chapters as they introduced the subject matter in a very concrete way, such as the introduction about the ship’s captain of the boat carrying stone materials from the quarry. Instead of just jumping into the discussion about the materials and the quarry, the example set the stage so that you could apply the information more readily.

Sometimes the narrative took a deep dive into the etymology of the names of the Gods or ruler’s names. It spent a lot of time talking about the forms of the Sun God, who apparently took many different names and appearances from the traditional polytheistic worship system, over to the monotheistic system instituted by Akhenaten (wherein he was worshipped as a king-god or god-king.)

Akhenaten and Nefertiti were not the only rulers examined. Akhenaten’s parents were Amunhotep III and Tiye; Tutankhamen was the son of Akhenaten of Nefertiti. All were discussed to flesh out the motives and history of the time. A fascinating part of the Dynasty indeed.

I spent a bit of time looking up photos and other descriptions of the monuments, places, art, and individuals covered in the book. As I was reading a pre-publication eGalley, it didn’t have maps or photos. Those will really enhance the final form.

Thank you to authors Colleen Manassa Darnell and John Coleman Darnell, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for allowing me to read a pre-publication copy of this book in exchange for my review. I didn’t receive anything in return and my opinions are my own.

I am posting on NetGalley, Goodreads, and BookBub immediately, and upon publication I will post on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Instagram.

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I found this book to be both an absorbing read and full of interesting facts ensuring the history lesson about the Amarna Period one easy to pick up. The book was well researched. Whether you are starting your Egyptian journey with this book or have much information previously acquired I think this book will significantly add to your knowledge.

Thank you for the chance to read this book. My opinions are my own.

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This is a biography or can be classified as history as it entails ancient Egypt as referred to by these two authors' who are John Coleman Darnell and Colleen Darnell. This is a meticulously researched non-fiction book that depicts Akhenaten and Nefertiti's reign in ancient Egypt who ruled during the Eighteenth Dynasty. Akhenaten is the father of King Tutankhamun , or "King Tut" whose discovery is
this November, 2022, will mark a century when Howard Carter discovered him in November, 1922. one-hundred years ago. Howard Carter who was a British archaeologist made the discovery of King Tutankhamun or Tutankhaten.

This is a very multifaceted biography or history regarding Akhenaten, Nefertiti and for most of the book discusses Akhenaten who changed his name from Amunhotep IV at approximately five years into his reign. Akhenaten's rule encompasses a lot of detailed information. This book informed me about his parents on both the paternal and his maternal genesis. I was contacted by someone that works for the publisher to read this and it is fascinating. The Darnell's made their own discovery in May of 2017 with their team. It is found in the Epilogue, so be sure to read the entire book because there is also a helpful Appendix section that cites all of the sources that are annotated with footnotes throughout this book. Nefertiti and Ankhenaten had many daughters, but Nefertiti was not King Tutankhamun's mother. King Tutankhamun died only nine years into his reign at the age of eighteen, of unknown causes. Possibilities that are speculated that might have caused his death are malaria or an injury caused from a fall from a chariot are suggestions in this book. The most magnificent of all of the treasure in his undisturbed tomb for three millennia is his twenty-two pound gold mask placed over his head. I have written more about King Tutankhamon than Akhetnaton, who this book is mostly about. Akhetnaten was the world's first monotheist and along with Nefertiti their religion and politics are the subject of many conflicting biographies. In this biography the Darnell's who are Egyptologists have their interpretations offered here derived from excavations, visiting museums, artifacts and hieroglyphic texts have recreated Akhenaten and Nefertiti culture as a scholarly narrative.

Publication Date: November 1, 2022

Thank you to Net Galley, John Coleman Darnell & Colleen Darnell and St. Martin's Press for providing me with my ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

#EgyptsGoldenCouple #JohnColemanDarnell #ColleenDarnell #StMartinsPress #NetGalley

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I have always had an interest in Egyptology, having had a parent who was an art historian who focused on Ancient Egypt. I remember seeing the Tutankhamun exhibition years ago. One aspect of Egyptian art history that I found completely fascinating was the Amarna period--the years of the Pharaoh Akhenaten and his wife Queen Nefertiti--their new religion and family focused rule.

This book instantly grabbed my attention. It is eminently approachable. The writing style is clear and informative. Each chapter begins with a fictional vignette that relates to the chapter contents. The ensuing chapter then details the history and relevant art historical details that relate to the chapter focus. It's a very unique and engaging way of disseminating the story, similar in style to The Real Valkyrie, a book I read last year.

The contradictions and conflicts regarding this unusual period in Egyptian history were well delineated, as were the artistic creativity and unique styles that flourished during the Amarna period.

I think this is an excellent resource and entertaining book for anyone from the most erudite art historian to the most casual reader.

Highly recommended.

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Countless children have grown up with a fascination of the ancient world and I was no exception. Egypt, of course, is high on the list of people's interest, with their pyramids and incomparable leaders such as Nefertiti and Tutankhamen. But while I grew up and eventually earned degrees in history, I didn't have much of opportunity to study anything Egyptian in any depth.

In comes John Darnell's and Colleen Darnell's Egypt's Golden Couple, a highly accessible book about Akhenaten and Nefertiti, King Tut's equally famous parents. It's thoroughly researched (and includes an informative set of bibliographic essays) and readable, and is great for anyone with an interest in Egypt's history, whether amateur or professional. I absolutely enjoyed this one.

Thanks very much to St. Martin's Press for inviting me to read this ARC in exchange for a review through NetGalley.

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Egypt's Golden Couple: When Akhenaten and Nefertiti Became Gods on Earth is a fantastic well-researched nonfiction book that tells the story of the rulers of Egypt during the Amarna Period. The book remains fascinating while containing tons of facts and information on Nefertiti and Akhenaten. The author does an excellent job at setting the stage for what he'll be delving into. Highly recommended to anyone interested in the history of Egypt!

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A vivid and exhaustive telling of historical characters that I did not know much about.
I highly recommend this book.
I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

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In fourth grade, I knew I wanted to be an archaeologist. I was obsessed with Egyptian history and culture. I wish this book would have been around then.

Exploring these two powerful rulers and all they accomplished was a pleasure. The research that went into this is astounding. There is so much mythology and misinformation out there about this time in our history. This cleared up a lot of things for me.

If you are at all a history buff, this is a book you should read. I loved reading it.

NetGalley/ St. Martin’s Press November 01, 2022

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Egypt's Golden Couple: How Akhenaten and Nefertiti Became Gods on Earth is a well-researched and extremely in-depth look at the couple. If you have any interest in Akhenaten and Nerfertiti, this book covers everything from what archeology says to the past contradictory representations of Akhenaten. I didn't know much about the topic when I opened the book, but found the chapters easy to follow despite that.

My favorite part of this book was the short fiction excerpts included at the start of each chapter that cover some of the events. Those excerpts were perfect for people like me who sometimes get overwhelmed by the amount of information in a non-fiction book. Those fiction excerpts helped me digest the book and picture the information presented.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Part historical imagination, part travelogue, and part historical analysis, considering Akhenaten, Nefertiti, the prelude, and the consequences.

The authors begin with Amenhotep III's conception, well beyond what might be imagined. Much is made of Amenhotep III and the development of many of the features of the kingship and Aten cult which would become more prominent under Akhenaten. Akhenaten's youth, growth, adulthood, religious ideology, development and move to Akhetaten, and behavior are detailed. And then...the postlude, with speculation about Nefertiti as Neferneferuaten, Meritaten as Smenkhkare, and a bit about Tutankhamun.

The authors still believe Nefertiti is the mother of Tutankhamun; whether they think she is the Younger Lady who has been confirmed as Tut's mother by DNA is not stated. The authors are conversant with recent scholarship on Akhenaten and Nefertiti and their politico-religious ideology.

A good read for those interested.

*--galley received as part of early review program

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The Darnells, a husband and wife team of Egyptologists, combine scholarship, detective suspense, and adventure in Egypt's Golden Couple. I have always been fascinated by Egyptology, so I particularly enjoyed this book. Like The Real Valkyrie: The Hidden History of Viking Warrior Women, Egypt's Golden Couple is part history, part archeology, and part fiction. Each chapter opens with a scenario that is fictional derived from known facts about the subjects, and even the backdrops of the scene are based on actual paintings and bas-reliefs on the walls.

Akhenaten and his wife Nefertiti have been portrayed in widely differing accounts and depicted as an incestuous tyrant or an innovator who affected nearly every aspect of Egyptian life. He established the world’s first monotheist religion. The images, the gold funerary mask of his son Tutankhamun (King Tut) and the painted bust of his wife Nefertiti, are among the most recognizable in the world, right up there with Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.”
Akhenaten and Nefertiti transformed Egyptian solar worship from polytheism to monotheism. While doing so, they changed the face of Egyptian art and architecture. The Darnells weave a delightful story about these two rulers. I enjoyed the in-depth view of Egyptian life, but some readers may find it slow going, particularly in parts that talk about the difficulty of reading and translating heiroglyphs: The verb is written with three phonetic signs. The first sign is a chisel … which we can approximately pronounce as ‘ab’ …

Overall, this is a great read, but be prepared to learn more about ancient Egypt that you might wish to.

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Cleverly written to draw us into what life would have been like in the time of the gods. The writing seamlessly weaves in information and details, as if they were part of the story, and goes back and forth between the present-day historical perspective and the ancient imagined tale. It’s engaging and informative.

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Thank you to NetGalley, the authors, and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review an advanced reader's copy of this book.
This was a very interesting collection of the Darnell's vast research. I have read about ancient Egypt and its dynasties, but this was far more in depth than anything I had seen before. The only thing I would have changed (and maybe it's this way in the final version) would be to add illustrations. I spent a lot of time Googling things I read about.

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