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on March 28, 2000
Mara is a wonderful heroine for young girls. Set in the time of Hatshepsut, Pharoah of Egypt, this small novel brings to life a distant era with remarkable clarity. McGraw has crafted her vision of the period around an exciting palace intrigue. The character of Mara, a young slave girl, is an excellent example for young women and it is remarkable to find in a book that was written in the 1950s. If you know a young woman of 9 to 14, give her this book.

This is one of the best books that I have ever read - how fortunate that it is still in print after all these years! I first encountered this excellent novel in 1961. I read it at least 20 times. I was too poor to purchase, so I copied the book out in about 10 school scribblers. True! When my daughter was 10, I bought a copy for her and another for myself.

McGraw's interpretation of the era can easily be faulted, but her sense of "Egypt" cannot. This book sent me on an investigative journey into the subject of Egyptology that has been a distinct pleasure all my life. I highly recommend this wonderful tale.
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on April 11, 2003
When I was in junior high school, I read this book and loved it. In fact, I read it over and over, and recently sent a copy to my niece as a 12th birthday gift. Mara, the spunky 17-year-old slave girl, is a wonderful role model for adolescent girls: far from perfect (in fact, rather devious), but brave and eventually quite heroic as she risks death rather than betray the people and ideals that she loves. I'm not entirely happy with the fact that Queen Hatshepsut, another feminist heroine of mine, was the villain of this novel. For the record, the real Hatshepsut ruled Egypt for many years of peace and prosperity, and as far as we know, died peacefully of old age. Her stepson (NOT her brother) Thutmose then destroyed her statues and inscriptions in a fit of petulant pique, but did not overthrow her.
Still, who cares? This version makes a wonderful, swashbuckling story, and also provides an excellent introduction to the culture of ancient Egypt for kids who are curious about its history.
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on October 23, 2004
This was the first novel I ever read (when I was 12) that transported me to the ancient world. I loved it so much that, many years later, I still have a copy of it on my bookshelf. Mara is a terrific heroine: courageous, imaginative, adventurous, and self confident. However, she also has the ability to be deceptive when she needs to be in order to survive. Because of her gift for languages, Mara is bought out of slavery to serve as interpreter between pharoah Hatshepsut's brother Thutmose and his betrothed, an unhappy Babylonian princess. She is supposed to be a spy on behalf of Hatshepsut's supporters, but circumstances force her to become a double agent, who also reports to Thutmose. This places her in the center of dangerous court intrigues. The story combines vivid historical detail, engaging characters, suspenseful adventures, and a touching love story. Although it was written for a young adult audience, adult readers can also find this very enjoyable. I agree with other reviewers: this would make a wonderful movie!
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on April 26, 1999
I usually don't buy books unless 1.It's part of a series I like. 2.It's by an author I like. 3.I had borrowed it and loved it. This one wasn't any of those, but when I was browsing through the teen section of the bookstore I saw this one and remembered that it was on the "if you like this, you'll like.." list here for a book I had liked, The Reluctant God. I read the first chapter right there at the bookstore and was hooked. Just today I finished it, reading for 2 hours straight because I had to find out what was going to happen!
This I loved this book!! Of course, the story is very captivating. Spys, romance, an Ancient Egyptian setting, what more could you want? Mara was awesome! I loved her strong, clever personality. (I always like those types of girl characters, or else the tomboy type) And Sheftu! I want my own Sheftu!! There's also other interesting and endearing characters, but I can't write about them all.
There is a lot of beautiful descriptions, but I confess I would catch myself unknowingly skimming over those parts, because I was so anxious to find out what would happen next! It doesn't matter though, when I read it again (for I know I will, many times!) I can go slower and catch all those parts.
This is a must-read for anyone who has an interest in Ancient Egypt. Also, if you like a good spy/romance book, you'll love this!
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on March 4, 2001
When a friend recommended Mara Daughter of the Nile to me, I wasn't quite sure if I would enjoy it. You see I can be quite a picky reader, and if the book isn't exceptionally good, it bores me right away.So, I was a bit skeptical. But the moment I picked up the book from my school library, I was already fascinated by it. In less than two hours, I had traveled with Mara and the other characters through the complicated and fascinating plot of the story. I had become 100% hooked on the book and read it several more times. You see, Mara Daughter of the Nile is a compelling and interesting story, taking place at the mystical and interesting time of the great Egyptians Pharaohs. The main character, Mara, is a witty and smart slave who is a double spy for two archenemies, the Queen Hatshepsut and her half-brother, Thutmose 3. Mara doesn't expect half the problems that she faces and one of them is falling in love. The story has an unexpected ending and the story line isn't as complicated as you expect. I recommend this book to anybody who enjoys historical fiction, action, romance and an extremely good story. Enjoy!
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on November 27, 1998
This book is the ultimate Egypt book. It is about a fictional girl named Mara who helps overthrow the Queen of Egypt, Hatshepsut. Along the way you are thrown into a world of secrecy and danger, where anything can happen at any moment. You'll be transfixed with an unsual love story, and amazed with Mara's cunning when she plays a double spy. I promise you . . . you will NOT want to put this book down!!!!!!! And your life is not complete if you don't read it! When I picked up this book in my school library, I was really interested, because I think McGraw is an awesome author. I had read her book, The Golden Goblet, in class, and loved it. So when I read this book, it was as though I knew Mara herself. McGraw paints a picture so life like, so real, that you too, like I was, will be a witness to Mara's extrordinary adventure. If your a coward, well then . . . don't read this book. If you're not, then sit back, and dare to dream.
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on May 30, 2001
I love this book. I read it as an independent read in school and after about three pages I fell in love with the intracate plot and detailed characters. I am a big fan of romance, action, suspense, history, and intrigue, and if you are too, read MARA DAUGHTER OF THE NILE. For once, a book set in Egypt not about Cleopatra! Get to know the cold Hatshepsut, sleek Sheftu, irritated Nekonkh, and learn a lot about ancient Egyptian culture. Egypt was my favorite unit in social studies, and I loved this book. To all you people who said this book was boring, you are just too immature to appreciate fine literature.
Concerning the plot: Mara is a wise and beautiful slave girl who yearns for freedom, but to get it, she must play the role of a double spy in the court of Hatshepsut for two arch enemies, both of which who support a different contender for the throne. Against her will, Mara finds herself falling in love with one of her masters, the noble Sheftu, but just when she is about to offer her help and her heart, her duplicity is discovered and a dangerous scheme is devised that risks not only Mara's life but the fate of Egypt as well.
When in doubt, trust in me - READ THIS BOOK!
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on April 21, 2002
...even better than my new favorite for a time, 'The Sherwood Ring' by Elizabeth Marie Pope (another good teenager's read) because this book does not have an objectionable ending, while I actually decided to rewrite the end to Pope's first masterpiece. (I have yet to read her second.)
Mara: Daughter of the Nile is an excellent read. I read it in seventh grade and was hardly able to put it down; now a year has passed and while I can't exactly boast I've been reading it constantly for forty years like some of the other reviewers, I can say that this book kindled my love for historical fiction (or rather, fanned the already-lit spark until it became a full-on flame!) and I actually went a semester, week by week, of reading nothing but historical fiction for silent sustained reading in my literature class-thanks to this literary masterpiece.
The plot involves spies and intrigue, as well as a masterfully-spun and dangerous romance. The characters are so alive that it is very likely you might catch yourself speaking about them as if they were old, casual acquaintances and not merely some characters in a novel. Mara, the slave yearning to be free at last, is a fun character backed by a delightful cast of royalty and river captains. The book is packed with an intricately-woven plot, amazing history, witty dialogue and vivid recreations of life in Egypt. Both 'The Sherwood Ring' and 'Mara' have made me desire to do some research to see if the main characters really existed-I highly recommend 'Mara' to anyone interested in history and a good four hours' reading that he will return to again and again.
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on February 8, 2001
I first read Mara when I was about 11, and the story gave me a love of reading and a craving to read more about Egypt and the time of the Pharoahs. When I was 17, I had already read it at least 8 or 10 more times. I finally found an old copy of it and bought it for my own. I am 48 and still love to read the story of the wiley but loveable slave girl turned spy, and her quest to find the true importance of self and sacrifice. The tale continues to thrill me with it's twists and turns. Makes me laugh and makes me want to cheer. Lord Sheftu, Princess Inanni, and Captain Nekonkh become vitally alive to the reader. The palace intrigues, and evryday living are there for the mind and heart to see and feel. This book would be a joy for any age group, and any gender. The romance, the danger, and history are well blended to entertain and make one thirst for more.
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on September 11, 2001
Mara is a combination spy thriller, historical fiction, and romance novel which appears to be aimed at an audience consisting mainly of teen girls. I enjoyed the book and found it not too offensive to read to my 9-year-old daughter. The plot moves right along, contains many interesting details of day-to-day life, offers interesting characters and situations. My favorite character was the Caananite princess. The author is talented with words and writes smoothly.
Mara herself seems a bit unbelievable around the edges, however. Having had a former master who was a scribe, Mara can read hieroglyphics fluently. This seems unlikely in the extreme, given the difficulty of this form of written communication. I'm guessing this knowledge was intended to make her seem a more acceptable heroine to modern audiences, but it was unnecessary. It's a little (but only a little) more believable that she can speak a second language fluently. This factor is, however, more essential to the story than the literacy bit.
I don't object to a bit of romance in a teen story, but in this case, I didn't like the way it was presented. There was no sex and very little sexual inuendo, however the romantic hero was the classic dark, dangerous type, and though his abuses were committed in the name of a greater good, I don't think this particular romance gives girls a reasonable picture of what a desirable young man should look like.
Given these factors, I wonder how much research went into presenting the daily details of Egyptian life? I know very little about the subject myself, so it's difficult to judge. Though we enjoyed the book, I don't believe I'd buy it again. If the above doesn't trouble you, Mara is a good choice and will be an enjoyable read.
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