Her name is legend. Her story, the epic of nations. The Queen of Sheba. A powerful new novel of love, power, and the questions at the heart of existence by the author of the award-winning “brilliant” (Library Journal) and “masterful” (Publishers Weekly) Iscariot.
There is the story you know: A foreign queen, journeying north with a caravan of riches to pay tribute to a king favored by the One God. The tale of a queen conquered by a king and god both before returning to her own land laden with gifts. That is the tale you were meant to believe. Which means most of it is a lie.
In the tenth century BC, the new Queen of Sheba has inherited her father’s throne and all its riches at great personal cost. Her realm stretches west across the Red Sea into land wealthy in gold, frankincense, and spices. But now new alliances to the North threaten the trade routes that are the lifeblood of her nation. Solomon, the brash new king of Israel famous for his wealth and wisdom, will not be denied the tribute of the world—or of Sheba’s queen. With tensions ready to erupt within her own borders and the future of her nation at stake, the one woman who can match wits with Solomon undertakes the journey of a lifetime in a daring bid to test and win the king. But neither ruler has anticipated the clash of agendas, gods, and passion that threatens to ignite—and ruin—them both. An explosive retelling of the legendary king and queen and the nations that shaped history.
Lee (Iscariot) brings her talent for research and lively imagination to bear on a woman who has inspired others but about whom little we know little: the Queen of Sheba. The queen figures not only in the Bible but also in the Qur'an and in Ethiopian history. Lee crafts, as usual, an intriguing central figure, one who is priestess, queen, and the survivor of shifting, often treacherous politics. The woman known as Bilqis in her native land of Sheba journeys to Israel to negotiate with King Solomon, having already begun a provocative and enigmatic correspondence with him. Solomon proves profound and puzzling, and as the two heads of state match wits in a slow dance of understated yet inevitable seduction. Parts of the narrative before Bilqis arrives in Israel lack sufficient tension. But the ending is deeply satisfying. Another winner by Lee.