Anippe has grown up in the shadows of Egypt’s good god Pharaoh, aware that Anubis, god of the afterlife, may take her or her siblings at any moment. She watched him snatch her mother and infant brother during childbirth, a moment which awakens in her a terrible dread of ever bearing a child. Now she is to be become the bride of Sebak, a kind but quick-tempered Captain of Pharaoh Tut’s army. In order to provide Sebak the heir he deserves and yet protect herself from the underworld gods, Anippe must launch a series of deceptions, even involving the Hebrew midwives — women ordered by Tut to drown the sons of their own people in the Nile.
When she finds a baby floating in a basket on the great river, Anippe believes Egypt’s gods have answered her pleas, entrenching her more deeply in deception and placing her and her son Mehy, whom handmaiden Miriam calls Moses, in mortal danger.
As bloodshed and savage politics shift the balance of power in Egypt, the gods reveal their fickle natures and Anippe wonders if her son, a boy of Hebrew blood, could one day become king. Or does the god of her Hebrew servants, the one they call El Shaddai, have a different plan — for them all?
Mesu Andrews’ deep understanding of and love for God’s Word brings the biblical world alive for her readers. She and her husband, Roy, enjoyed fourteen years of pastoral ministry before moving to the Pacific Northwest, where Roy now serves as Academic Dean at Multnomah Biblical Seminary. Mesu writes full-time, snuggled in her recliner beside a cozy fire on rainy Northwest days. The Andrews’ enjoy visiting their two married daughters and a growing tribe of grandkids. Mesu loves movies, football, waterfalls, and travel.
Biblical fiction is her favorite genre to read and write. Her first novel, Love Amid the Ashes (Revell, 2011), tells the story of Job and won the 2012 ECPA Book of the Year for a Debut Author. Love’s Sacred Song (Revell, 2012) relates the poetic Song of Solomon in story form, and Love in a Broken Vessel (Revell, 2013) sets the story of Hosea and Gomer in biblical Israel. The Shadow of Jezebel (Revell, 2014) displays God’s sovereignty over Jezebel’s daughter, Queen Athaliah. The Pharaoh’s Daughter (Waterbrook/Multnomah) released in March 2015, unveiling Moses’ early years through the eyes of his Egyptian mother.
Mesu Andrews has created an inventive story detailing Moses’ Egyptian mother in her latest book, The Pharaoh’s Daughter. Little is known about this woman, including just when she lived and which Pharaoh was her father. Through extensive research into the historical record and Scripture, Andrews developed a plausible backstory for the woman who would play a pivotal role in the early life of Moses.
Annipe has had many names — the name given her by the Great Queen to serve as a decoy to deceive the god of the underworld, the name given her by her adopted parents, and the name given her at her marriage. None really portray who she is, only what others want her to be. A woman in a world ruled by men and fraught with political intrigue and danger, Annipe forms her life through manipulation, cunning and deceit and lives that life under the cloud of fear. Only when she embraces the name given to her by God, does she find peace.
Andrews has written a compelling and complex story filled complex characters from all aspects of the Ancient Egyptian world — Pharaoh’s, generals, soldiers, noblemen and slaves. All are caught up in the structured world dictated by the myths of the gods and the politics of warring nations. This was a brutal time in the world’s history and is depicted in a thorough, but not overly graphic manner. And although the Egyptians are those that rule, no one has any real control except the God of the Hebrews, El Shaddai. God’s sovereignty is an overarching theme for the book. While man strives to steer and command, only God has the power to affect events and bring about His plans. Another theme woven throughout the book is fear and its effects. Towards the end of the book, the Hebrew slave, Mered, tells Annipe “If fear robs us of truth, faith never has a chance to grow”. That truth resonated with this reader.
One caveat: this book is fiction. That should be obvious, but needs to be said. A lot of literary license is taken in forming the story. Scripture is used as a framework and historical figures play a dominant role, but many of the events depicted are pure supposition by the author. It is a great what if, but not a pure retelling of the Biblical record. Also the story is slow in building. I struggled with keeping focused and connecting with many of the characters. I am glad I stuck with it, though, because Annipe’s later life redeemed much of her past.
An interesting look at who Moses’ mother could have been, I recommend The Pharaoh’s Daughter.
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(Thanks to Waterbrook for a review copy. All opinions shared are mine alone.)