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Nefertiti's Legacy

Nefertiti's Legacy

Pain lives in the palace; rest and peace will never befall her there.

Determined to escape the horrors of her past, Ankhesenamun leaves Egypt to find her sister in the vast lands of Canaan and begin a new life with a man she might love one day. However, the neglect of her father has caused Canaan to fall into a tyrannical state, full of oppressive kings and raiding brigands. 

After cursing the gods and forsaking her divine duty as Hereditary Princess, has Ankhesenamun further doomed their search and rendered any true escape from her past impossible?

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Main Tropes and Themes

  • Closed-door Romance
  • Perilous Journey
  • Tragic Rose
  • Scars
  • Abduction
  • Seeking Peace

What is this story about?

Pain lives in the palace; rest and peace will never befall her there.

Determined to escape the horrors of her past, Ankhesenamun leaves Egypt to find her sister in the vast lands of Canaan and begin a new life with a man she might love one day. However, the neglect of her father has caused Canaan to fall into a tyrannical state, full of oppressive kings and raiding brigands. 

After cursing the gods and forsaking her divine duty as Hereditary Princess, has Ankhesenamun further doomed their search and rendered any true escape from her past impossible?

In conclusion to The Lost Pharaoh Chronicles saga, Nefertiti’s Legacy is a dramatic tale of a woman’s struggle to find peace, inner strength, and the love her mother wanted for her.

Who is this story for?

Perfect for fans of Michelle Moran, Stephanie Dray, and Amy Tan.

Anyone who loves romantic dramas and Ancient Egyptian historical retellings, the final complement of The Lost Pharaoh Chronicles offers a compelling and imaginative take on the last queen of the 18th Dynasty's Amarna period.

With its richly detailed world-building and complex characters, Nefertiti's Legacy is a must-read for anyone who loves tales of love after loss, finding peace, and happy endings.

Grab this gripping historical drama today.

Content Disclaimers

The author rated this book for ages 13+ for violence and adult themes.

Nefertiti's Legacy will contain spoilers for the complete The Lost Pharaoh Chronicles quadrilogy and the complement, King's Daughter.

Prologue and Chapter 1 Preview

Prologue: Seeking Freedom

Malkata, 1321 B.C.

Ankhesenamun stood looking over the Nile toward Waset. The wail lifted from the city and carried on its breeze to her bedchamber in Malkata’s royal harem. Her chin lowered and her fingers laced together over her belly as she listened to the wail’s ebb and flow. The same wail had lifted when her previous husband was declared one with Re, as it had for her mother before him and her father before her mother. 

Her eyes narrowed in thought as her gaze fell to the floor. The wail for her father had been a sham: planned, forced, and although loud, short-lived. No one missed him. No one wanted to remember him. Even Tut, his own son and her late husband, had disowned him. 

The wail for her mother . . . she was not sure if it had been a sham or not. There seemed to be a true sadness that accompanied the wails, but she did not know if the sadness was for the death of her mother or about the sad state of Egypt. Her mother had reversed many of her father’s and her uncle’s decrees, but she had made the foolish decision to secure a Hittite prince when she found she was with Horemheb’s child. 

A decision made in haste, but it would not have stopped Pawah from killing you. The image of her mother’s lifeless body on the council room floor supplied her belly with a momentary nausea. Mother, rest your ka. 

Her mind turned numb as she tried to push past the memory of her parents. Such a tangled mess they were in: Father losing his mind in his unending rituals to the Aten disc, Mother doing her best to hold Egypt together at Father’s absence, and eventually Mother taking poison to Father on threat from Pawah. 

A cold chill swept down her spine as that name sprang into her mind. His face haunted her dreams. A brief burning sensation struck her lips as she thought of Pawah’s forced kiss in the Aketaten throne room and his groping hand. It was then she had realized the depth of corruption in her father’s sun city, Aketaten. No one in the throne room had come to her aid as Pawah threatened her life. Tears built on the edge of her eyes and threatened to pour down her cheeks. 

He took everything from me, even Tut and my daughters. 

The wail from Waset intensified in the moment, only to wane once more. “Was the wail for Tut genuine?” Her whisper barely made it to her ears. She had thought so. He was a good King. He did what my mother did not do; he moved into this palace, Malkata—the palace of my grandfather, Egypt’s Magnificent King, Amenhotep III. He defended Egypt as the divinely appointed. Her eyes rose in defiance, and she looked out of her window to the god Re as he sat on his sun-barge in the sky. Yet you allowed him to die at the hand of Pawah, your Fifth Prophet.

She gazed over her shoulder at all of the faience statues of the gods strewn over the floor of her royal harem bedchamber. She had never picked them up after she had swiped them all from their place on the top of her chest. She had never told her stewards to do so either, so there they rested in a mockery of her life. Her curse to the gods after Tut’s murder rushed over her once again:

“I want no part of you if all you do is take and never give. You only punish. You never reward. You trick with your gift of ba-en-pet—you lie! All of you, even the Aten disc!” Her fists slammed into the table as her head wrenched up. “Show me! Show me you are gods!” Her fisted hand dropped into her lap. “I want no part of you.”

That day came back in clear memory. The gods had been silent. They had not answered. 

“All this death because my father decided to worship one of you, the Aten, instead of all of you? Have we not paid enough for his heresy?”

The wail in Waset yet again drew her attention. The same wail had come the night she held her firstborn daughter, born already on the journey west. It had come again when she held her second-born daughter, also already journeying to the afterlife. Those wails had seemed genuine; they had seemed real. It was not until much later that she discovered Pawah had also orchestrated their deaths. He took her children from her by forcing the hand of her own steward and cupbearer to slip boiled poppy and silphium into her nightly wine. 

A shaky breath passed over her lips. “It was all a game to him,” she whispered in realization. He had almost persuaded Tut, along with his list of “witnesses,” that she had killed her daughters. He had almost persuaded Tut she was unfaithful to him with his Tutor, Sennedjem, after spending every day in his training yard learning to defend herself from Pawah. A red boil of anger burned her ears. Pawah had driven a wedge between her and Tut. All of the lies, the doubt, the distrust, the years of isolation—they surfaced in her memory. How can one man bring so much destruction, so much death? 

“I want to forget. I want to remember no more,” she whispered low in her throat. The tears that had courageously held onto the brink of her eyes finally fell and ran down her cheeks in a single stream. “This will be the last time I cry for all that the gods have allowed Pawah to take from me.”

She wet her lips with a small lick, tasting the salt from her tears. Her hands folded behind her back as she stood straight and tall. 

The wail came again. Was this wail genuine? She turned her back on the window. Egypt weeps for royal wife and Queen Ankhesenamun. An empty sarcophagus shall be placed in my grandfather’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings.” 

Her grandfather, Pharaoh Ay, wanted to name a Hereditary Prince she wanted to marry, but her options were Horemheb, her mother’s lover and Tut’s appointed Hereditary Prince; Nakhtmin, Master of Pharaoh’s Horses; or Nakht, Vizier. Her grandfather had named Nakhtmin as his successor, and the weight of her duty as Hereditary Princess crashed around her. Horemheb is the rightfully appointed. Why, Grandfather, did you do that? Marriage to me would seal either man’s place on the throne, and it would prevent any struggle between the two powerful men. 

“But I cannot do it.” 

Sennedjem’s face appeared in her mind. A pang of guilt stabbed her belly. “I am so sorry,” she whispered to Tut’s ka. Her eyes pressed close. “I was never unfaithful to you, but you are gone and I am alone here. He has agreed to go with me to Canaan.” 

The accusations of infidelity sprang upon her again. 

“He has been faithful to you, Tut. He has been good to me since your passing; I only ever knew of his feelings toward me because I told him I had wanted my grandfather to name him Hereditary Prince. But it was a foolish idea; no one would accept him as Pharaoh. But I am glad I asked him to go to Canaan. I am glad to leave. He is a good man, Tut. He honored you and my grandfather, who is my husband now.” Her chin drooped. 

“Forgive me. I am so tired of being the royal wife passed from Pharaoh to Pharaoh. First, married to our father, then you, now my grandfather, next Nakhtmin or Horemheb”—a heavy sigh fell from her mouth—“and the next after him, for I will surely outlive either one . . . I will be doomed to the royal harem, alone and forgotten, with Sennedjem in the training yard as a precious bait.” Her fingers brushed her lips as she thought of Sennedjem’s kiss in the prior month when she had asked him to leave Egypt with her. 

She had kissed a man who was not her husband. Had Pawah’s accusations of infidelity come true in the moment? Was she all that he had said? Her grandfather had released her in secret from her marriage to him, had he not? However, the declaration of her journey to the afterlife had not come until that morning. But did it matter?

The memory of Sennedjem’s breath upon her lips caused her pause. She relished his kiss as she relived it. In the moment, she had forgotten about Tut, but when she walked away from Sennedjem, the turmoil in the aftermath of those accusations washed over her. A sudden piercing pain pricked her heart. 

“Is it wrong of me to find a future with the very man with whom I was accused of being unfaithful?” She did not know, but she drove the question away to be answered on a different day.

Her grandfather had spent the past month preparing her and Sennedjem’s clandestine journey to Canaan. He planned to leave Sennedjem’s tomb intact since Sennedjem’s wife lay there, but in the year after they left, he would erase Sennedjem’s name to arouse no suspicions or rumors. 


Her finger rested on her bottom lip. The past month had been one of the longest in her life. She had not left her bedchamber in the name of appearing to be ill and traveling to Re. Her royal guard, Hori, knew she was alive, as did one of her stewards. 

“The whole of Egypt thinks me gone now.” Her hands drifted to her sides, and her shoulders pulled upright. “I will own my life, and it will not be spent here in the royal harem, isolated and out of mind.”

Three of Pharaoh’s trusted Fleetsmen would take her and Sennedjem to Per-Amun. Once there, they would meet a man named Panhey who would teach them Akkadian, the language of the Canaanite city-states.

It seems so simple. She would find her last living sister in Canaan, and there, she would rebuild her family again. 

Her mother had wanted her to leave Egypt so many years ago with Nefe and General Paaten, but she had stayed to save her husband, her Tut, from that monster Pawah. In the end, she had still failed him. Warm tears built behind her eyelids. Pawah . . . he had taken her father, her mother, her husband and her two daughters. The man responsible for those deaths was dead; yes, literally dead for an Egyptian: burned and fed to the Nile’s predators. Even more well-deserved, she thought, Pawah had suffered impalement, a truly agonizing death. It was a truth that soothed her ka for only a moment. 

The wail pressed against her ears; its slow moan of sorrow bore into her ka as a reminder of the pain and agony she had endured thus far. She scanned the dark interior of her nearly empty royal harem bedchamber, the epitome of what her life had become. “I shall leave Egypt with Sennedjem to find joy again with my sister Nefe, and I will forget this life of misery. It matters not to me if this wail is genuine or false.”

Chapter 1: Seeking Farewell

She did not want to release her. The memory of her mother impressed upon her mind with a long inhale of Mut’s lotus blossom scent. Ankhesenamun tightened her arms about her. On the way to Per-Amun, she had wished to stop in Men-nefer to say goodbye to her last friends in Egypt.

“I wish you the best in Canaan, Ankhesenamun,” Mut whispered in her ear, drawing her back to the present.

Her eyes opened, and she pressed her forehead against her mother’s sister, her friend, her aunt, her Mut. She wanted to tell her that Horemheb did love her, but she refrained. Mut would find out in time. A smile grew upon her face as she envisioned a happy future for Mut. She refused to look at Mut’s thick gold bracelets that covered her scars. Pawah had given those to her. 

Ankhesenamun should have killed him when she had the chance in the quiet corridor of Malkata, but she wanted him to suffer impalement for all he had done.  She never told Mut she had had the opportunity to end his life years ago, thus preventing him from torturing her later. Why add to Mut’s pain when she could keep her guilt to herself? Why ruin the image of Mut’s only friend? She glanced to Horemheb. Perhaps he will become a better friend to her in time than I have been all of these years.

“I shall miss you,” Ankhesenamun whispered and stroked Mut’s cheek. 

“And I, you.” Mut shook her head. “I am glad for you. You get to start over.”

So do you. 

Ankhesenamun lifted Mut’s chin. “Anyone can start over.”

Her eyes drifted to Horemheb, who stood behind Mut. He dipped his chin before making himself known to Mut by placing a hand on her shoulder.

Mut dropped her arms, and Ankhesenamun stepped away. She locked eyes with Mut one last time. Mut is the last person in Egypt I needed to see, and I have said my goodbye. She will be safe and loved by Horemheb. She will have a good life. There is nothing left for me here in this land. And with that thought, she knew she could leave Egypt now. 

Sennedjem spoke. “Thank you for the horse, General Horemheb. You did not have to do that—”

“Yes, I did. May it help you on your journey.” Horemheb’s gaze fell upon Ankhesenamun. 

She recalled their conversation in the stables just a few hours prior, and she nodded her head to him in reassurance. Live your life, Horemheb. No more guilt about my mother and returning in the place of my Tut. Love your wife. Be a good man. I will live my life in accord with Tut’s last words to me: Be happy; find someone who loves me as he did in the end and who will come to love me even more. She gave him a soft smile. He had given her half of her mother’s letter to him. It lay rolled up, hidden in her belt. It would be the only thing of sentimental value she would be taking from this land, and part of her did not want the reminder. She pushed past the thought. We shall both be happy now, Horemheb.

He seemed to read her thoughts as he released a steady breath. “Where will you settle in Canaan?”

Ankhesenamun paused to look at both of them. “I will not stop until I see or find out what became of my sister, the last of my family.” Ankhesenamun shrugged. “I may never find her, but I will never stop searching.” It had been ten years since Nefe had left with General Paaten, her mother’s steward Aitye, and the man named Atinuk. She hoped they all were alive and thriving in whatever life they had found for themselves; she hoped one day, she could be alongside them, embracing Nefe as she just had Mut. Her heart swelled as she took a small step backward in line with Sennedjem. 

“May Amun-Re bless you, Ankhesenamun.” Horemheb turned his attention to Sennedjem. “Protect her.”

Sennedjem’s fingers slid into her hand. “With my life.” 

The people believed she had traveled to Re. She stood before the General and his wife as a woman of no regard, dressed as an officer’s wife: long linen dress, no gold-beaded collar, and, since it was the cold season, a long, thick linen cloak. Gold beading adorned her wig, but it was not like the elaborate detailing of the one she had worn as a royal wife. No empyreal vulture headdress sat upon her head to signal her birthright as a royal woman.

The thought brought a smile to her lips. She was free. Free to forget her past life and all of the pain it had brought her. Sennedjem stood beside her in lieu of Tut, but she could see her future with him. This was an unknown future where nothing was clear, and she had not even the faintest notion of what could happen. Fear gripped her heart, but as she stood before her last friends in Egypt, she knew this was what she wanted: to seize her own life and make it count for something; to maybe one day love again and have family in her arms once more. It was worth giving up her birthright. 

Her hand squeezed Sennedjem’s hand in hers—the man with whom her late husband had thought her unfaithful. The sick irony of it all forced a tear from her eye. 

No more of that.

She pushed Tut from her mind. She had cursed the gods for Tut. She had cursed Egypt for him. But no more. She set in her mind to leave Egypt and to forget the past. 

“Be in peace, my friends.” 

“Be in peace,” Mut whispered. 

* * *

They left Horemheb’s Men-nefer estate as the sun dipped low in the west. The horse trotted along beside them as the gold and copper clanked and water sloshed alongside the bags of grain. 

“At dinner, I saw you share a look with General Horemheb regarding your mother’s blanket that you gave to Mut.” Sennedjem’s hand gripped up on the horse’s reins as he reached for her hand with the other. “Are you disappointed you will not marry him and be a sister-wife with Mut? Why did you not ask your grandfather to keep the Hereditary Prince appointment bestowed upon Horemheb?”

Ankhesenamun softly grinned as she shook her head. “No, Sennedjem. I am afraid it is not that simple.” She moved his hand to wrap around her waist. She slid an arm around his lower back and spun around in front of him—something she could have never done outside of the closed doors of her royal apartment. The horse’s trot stopped as Sennedjem pulled her close. It was the first time they had been able to be alone like this since their kiss in his training yard out of sight of the royal guards. I will enjoy my new freedom outside of the palace walls.

He waited for her to speak.

She pushed his heavy linen cloak away from his strong jawline before she answered. “Horemheb loved my mother. She was going to have his son. I never wanted to marry him, Sennedjem.”

Sennedjem’s jaw fell agape. “I did not know.”

“No one knew except for my grandfather.”

“So many secrets, it seems.” Sennedjem cupped her face and blocked the increasingly chilly winds from her cheek. “That is why he did not want Horemheb to marry you and so named another Hereditary Prince?”

Ankhesenamun shook her head. She loved her grandfather. She always would, but in the moment of recounting his decisions, he seemed weak to her. Almost petty. 

“Among other things.”

“Would you have stayed at Malkata if Horemheb remained Hereditary Prince?”

She kissed the inside of his hand. “I would have wanted to leave. There were so many memories of Tut and my daughters there. I could not . . . ” Her voice trailed off. She pushed her thoughts away. “I would have wanted to leave.”

He searched her eyes. She felt he wanted to say something, but it never passed his lips. She guessed at his intentions. 

“It is too late for me to go back, but your name has not yet been erased.”

He pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I want to go with you, Ankhesenamun. I never believed I could have a future with you.” He peered over his shoulder to Horemheb’s estate in the distance. “I never would have kissed you if this future were not a possibility.” He returned his gaze to her.

“My mother was willing to live a celibate life married to Tut.” She paused. “My grandfather gave me this escape because he could not give my mother the same. She loved Horemheb, Sennedjem, and she was willing to give him up for Egypt.”

“She was an honorable Pharaoh,” he whispered.

“Do you think me weak for not choosing the same path as she?”

Sennedjem shook his head. “You are anything but weak.” He lifted her chin.

“Do you think ill of me for choosing a life with you despite all the accusations of infidelity? The Fleetsmen seem to think so. I hear them at night when they think I am sleeping.” Their whispers had brought tears to her eyes as she huddled on the lounger of the barge. Even two years after Tut had been murdered, the rumors were still fresh on their minds. Sennedjem had been “appointed” to be her protector in her voluntary exile, but it did not stop the suspicions. Pawah’s actions still haunted her.

His gaze locked with hers; his eyes intensified. “What matters is that you were faithful to your husband, and I was faithful to my oath to the throne. You never held me in that regard until after Pharaoh Tutankhamun was no longer in this life. Those accusations were made by a madman vying for the throne. I do not think ill of you. The Fleetsmen should not either.” 

She whispered, “Are you sure you are here with me because you want to be? Or are you only here to fulfill your oath to the throne to protect me?”

“Yes, Ankhesenamun. I am here because I want this life with you.” He lowered his lips to hers but stopped before they touched. He saw the glisten in her eyes.

“Even if it means you may never be reconciled with your wife and child in the afterlife?” she asked.

He pressed his forehead to hers and winced. “Even if it means you will never be reconciled with your daughters and Pharaoh Tutankhamun?” 

The pang of guilt from cursing the gods wrapped around her heart. Tut’s and her daughters’ faces passed before her. Her heart would weigh heavy on the scales of Ma’at. She would never see them again in the afterlife. “I will never be reconciled with Tut. He is to be one with Re.”

“And your daughters?”

She cupped his cheek; she could not tell him she had cursed the gods, not yet. “Please do not speak of them. I cannot bear to think of them. What of you?”

“I loved Sadeh, and I still do, but my wife and my child, they have each other. I need you, Ankhesenamun. I am thirty-four years old; I spent four years in a haze after Sadeh and my child traveled to Re. That haze cleared when I found a purpose in my life again: to teach you to defend yourself against Pawah—”

She pressed a finger to his lips before letting her hand drop to his waist. She could not hear that name anymore; that name put a hole through her heart. 

He rubbed her back and looked off toward the sunset over her head. “You are my purpose, Ankhesenamun.” His hands lingered on her back before he pressed his lips to hers. Quick smiles passed over them both, but hers held a tinge of sorrow. He must have noticed her sadness, for his kiss multiplied into many quick, stealing kisses over her face and neck until she giggled.

He pulled away with a beaming face. The sun’s rays caught him in the eyes, and their deep brown color became as honey. 

She traced his face. “Thank you,” she whispered. Her heart lifted in her chest at the sudden playfulness; it had given her a short respite from the past. 

He stole one more kiss before looking to the west. “The sun is setting, and we must return to the barge. We can be together again once we reach Per-Amun.”

She sighed. Three of Pharaoh’s Fleetsmen waited for them on their barge. His hands on her body and his many kisses warmed her heart on land, but she would feel alone again on the barge since, in front of the Fleetsmen, Sennedjem would treat her as he did in Malkata. The Fleetsmen kept a full day and night schedule, so she and Sennedjem could never be together or even speak much. It was still at least two decans to Per-Amun. 

Just two more decans; then I can talk to someone like this forever. I will not have to be isolated and lonely anymore. She moved out of his way and walked beside him. “I still feel selfish for asking you to come with me.”

He squeezed her hand. “I am glad you asked me to come with you.”

She glanced at the profile of his face. “But you are leaving Sadeh and your unborn for me.” 

“We all make choices, Ankhesenamun.” He pulled her under his arm. “And I choose you for the rest of my life.”

She smiled, pulling up against the weight of guilt at the corners of her mouth. Am I being unfair to him? I can see a future with him, but I cannot say I love him. I kissed him. I enjoyed his kiss. I want more of his touch. Have I led him to believe we will be married? I am grateful to him for all the kindness and dedication he has shown me . . . Tut’s face entered her mind. Forget this old life. Live a new life with Sennedjem. He cares for me. He loves me. One day I will love him. She rubbed his chest as they walked. “And I choose you.”

Product Information

eBook File: 1.3 MB

Paperback Size: 5" x 8"

400 pages

Includes: Exclusive Cover and Interior Formatting

Printed on-demand by Lulu Direct

Book Information

Publisher: LLMBooks Publishing
Published: May 2021
ISBN-13: 979-8643873297
ASIN: B088Q4G49V
Genre: Historical Fiction

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  • (★★★★★)

    "As always, author Lauren Lee Merewether outdid herself...I could not have asked for a better conclusion to a fantastic series!"  - Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

  • (★★★★★)

    "In the tradition of Christian Jacq, Merewether comes across as not only a gifted storyteller, but an Egyptologist who brings the ancient world to life...A breathtaking conclusion to The Lost Pharaoh Chronicles saga...The writing is gorgeous and littered with strong imagery, the characters are elaborately written, and the plot is suspenseful. Nefertiti's Legacy is an engaging tale that features stellar storytelling; one of the finest books I have read..." - Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite

  • (★★★★★)

    "If anybody ever needs a good dose of intense emotions, Nefertiti's Legacy by Lauren Lee Merewether is the book for them." - Ankita Shukla for Readers' Favorite

  • (★★★★)

    "Lauren Lee Merewether's tale of an empowered woman struggling to let go of her past and embrace her future is captivating and filled with grit, romance, and hope. Ankhesenamun's inner monologues brilliantly convey the raging battle within her mind." - Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

  • (★★★★★)

    "This novel featured themes like loyalty, deception, honor, perseverance, valor, patience, and enduring love. It boasted a unique plot with depth that kept me locked in until the last page." - Jennifer Ibiam for Readers' Favorite

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