Song of Songs: A Novel of the Queen of Sheba
by Marc Graham
Song of Songs: A Novel of the Queen of Sheba
by Marc Graham
Publication Date: April 16, 2019
Blank Slate Press
Paperback; 400 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
When Makeda, the slave-born daughter of the chieftain of Saba, comes of age, she wins her freedom and inherits her father’s titles along with a crumbling earthwork dam that threatens her people’s survival. When she learns of a great stone temple being built in a land far to the north, Makeda leads a caravan to the capital of Yisrael to learn how to build a permanent dam and secure her people’s prosperity.
On her arrival, Makeda discovers that her half-sister Bilkis (also known as Bathsheba) who was thought to have died in a long-ago flash flood, not only survived, but has become Queen of Yisrael. Not content with her own wealth, Bilkis intends to claim the riches of Saba for herself by forcing Makeda to marry her son. But Bilkis’s designs are threatened by the growing attraction between Makeda and Yetzer abi-Huram, master builder of Urusalim’s famed temple. Will Bilkis’s plan succeed or will Makeda and Yetzer outsmart her and find happiness far from her plots and intrigue?
My Review: Makeda inherits the throne of Saba when her family is killed by war and floods. As soon as she sits upon a throne, she must find a way to rebuild a dam made of mudbrick that threatens her kingdom’s survival. When she learns of a temple being built in Jerusalem that is made of stone, Makeda believes that the temple’s craftsmanship may provide an answer on how to build a permanent dam to safeguard her people.
Makeda leads a caravan to Yisrael and is shocked that the sister she thought had been swept away from flood was now the queen of Yisrael. Her sister, Bilkis (who is most known as Bathsheba), desires the queen of Saba’s wealth for herself. She plans to have Makeda marry her son. However, Makeda falls in love with the temple’s builder Yetzer. Can Makeda find a way to refuse Bilkis plans and find her own happiness?
Song of Songs is centered on three main characters, Makeda (the queen of Saba), Bilkis (the queen of Yisrael), and Yetzer (Jerusalem's temple builder). As soon as the novel begins we are introduced to Makeda. Makeda is the daughter of a slave and the chieftain of Yisrael. She is jealous of her older half-sister Bilkis because of her beauty and status. When her sister is swept away by the flood, she finds herself thrust upon a throne that she was not prepared for. However, Makeda’s main strength is her compassion. She cares for her people and her kingdom.
While Makeda is the protagonist in the novel, Bilkis is the villain. Bilkis is the foil to Makeda. While the queen of Saba is compassionate and caring, the queen of Yisrael is power-hungry, manipulative, ruthless, and self-centered. The love of Bilkis’s life is her throne. She is willing to do anything (including committing murder) to obtain it. She wants to build a temple for Jerusalem to bring glory for herself. Thus, Bilkis is not a likable character. I kept reading, hoping that she would get her just desserts.
Yetzer is Makeda’s love interest. He was a man from Yisrael, but he grew up in exile in Egypt. He planned to work in a temple until he failed his test and he was made a slave. Throughout his time as a slave worker, he becomes compassionate and caring toward those of a lower class. Therefore, he shares the same elements as Makeda, for they care for the well-being of the people. Yetzer is also an ambitious and an intelligent builder. He dreams of building Jerusalem's temple into the most magnificent structure in Yisrael.
Overall, Song of Songs has turned the first Book of Kings from the Old Testament into The Other Boleyn Girl. This novel has sibling rivalry, courtly intrigue, and betrayal. Because Makeda’s journey to Yisrael does not take place until the book neared its end, it took a long time for the three characters to meet. Therefore, the characters background story could have been shortened in order to focus on the main plot. Still, Song of Songs has plenty of soap opera elements that will keep you entertained as you await Makeda’s journey. I recommend this for fans of Deborah Rising, The Queenmaker, and Jerusalem’s Queen.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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About the Author:
Marc Graham studied mechanical engineering at Rice University in Texas, but has been writing since his first attempt at science fiction penned when he was ten. From there, he graduated to knock-off political thrillers, all safely locked away to protect the public, before settling on historical fiction. His first novel, Of Ashes and Dust, was published in March 2017.
He has won numerous writing contests including, the National Writers Assocation Manuscript Contest (Of Ashes and Dust), the Paul Gillette Memorial Writing Contest – Historical (Of Ashes and Dust, Song of Songs), and the Colorado Gold Writing Contest – Mainstream (Prince of the West, coming from Blank Slate Press in Fall 2019).
He lives in Colorado on the front range of the Rocky Mountains, and in addition to writing, he is an actor, narrator, speaker, story coach, shamanic practitioner, and whisky afficianado (Macallan 18, one ice cube). When not on stage or studio, in a pub, or bound to his computer, he can be found hiking with his wife and their Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.
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Song of Songs
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