“What if I failed to engage this purported wise man, this king who so embraced riddles? Was I clever, or did he seek only to marry Saba’s wealth out from under her to suit his own insatiable coffers?” Bilqis asks herself in Tosca Lee’s novel, The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen.
At three hundred and thirty-six pages, this hardbound targets readers that like Biblical stories about King Solomon’s relationship with the Queen of Sheba depicted as liberal fiction taken from I Kings 10 and II Chronicles 9 of the Bible. With slang words such as bastard and whore along with topics of rape, adultery, and children out of wedlock, it would not be apropos for immature readers. This reader wishes all names and pronouns of God were capitalized for reverence due to the many gods mentioned. With a map in the beginning, a list of the plethora of characters would be helpful. The ending includes an afterword, author’s note, and acknowledgements.
With little historical or Biblical knowledge of the Queen of Sheba known to date, the author weaves a tale of a young queen of the southern spice lands known as Saba who was forced into her position when her father died. Losing her mother when she is six years old, the girl once named Bilqis is repeatedly raped by a step-uncle and finds solace when she is exiled to nearby Punt for six years.
Returning to her homeland to take over the throne, Saba is heartbroken when her lover is killed. Lonely and unmarried in her early twenties, she questions her god Almaqah and why she has become a pawn to maintain her kingdom’s wealth and position in the lands.
When she hears of the king of Israel’s great wisdom, wealth, and wives, written correspondence between the two monarchs grows into an intimate sharing of their mirrored loneliness and political power.
As Solomon’s never-ending libido yearns for another woman to conquer, Saba learns of Yaweh, the Unknown God who protects and loves all. When their physical and emotional affair escalates, scandals, rumors, and war threaten the two kingdoms.
With inserts of visions, gods, reading livers, and sharing dark secrets, Saba no longer questions Solomon’s power and wisdom, she admires his cunning marital alliances and treaties to gain more wealth.
Written with a focus on idolatry, promiscuity, and greed, the fictional, sometimes confusing story of love blends the multi-country jockeying of power during Israel’s glory days with a suggested location of Ark of the Covenant.
Thanks to Simon and Schuster for furnishing this complimentary book in exchange for a review based on the reader’s honest opinion.
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GRAMMARLY was used to check for errors in this review.