The Legend of Sheba

The Legend of Sheba: Rise of a Queen by Tosca Lee

To be published: Sept 9, 2014

Set in tenth century B.C.E., Bilqis is the daughter of one of the most beautiful wives of the King of Saba, also known as Sheba (located in modern-day Yemen). After her mother passes away, she is targeted by the new wife and forced to flee to her mother’s homeland of Punt (the actual location is disputed, but we’ll say that it is in modern-day Ethiopia). She takes on a new identity and becomes Makeda. Once she becomes eighteen and her father is gravely ill, she is taken back to Saba and successfully regains the throne. King Solomon of Judea, famous for his hundreds of wives which provided many alliances and his wealth, starts up a correspondence with the Queen and this continues for awhile until he demands she send an emissary. Lonely and intrigued by this man, she decides to go herself to see him. What happens next is written in the Bible, the Qu’ran and other texts.

I will admit that I originally picked up this book after reading Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus book The Ring of Solomon, which briefly mentioned both King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Also, I did an art talk on Ethiopian Orthodox art and happened upon the origin story The Glory of the Kings, which describes the Ethiopian kings being descended from the mythical Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, made me curious to know more about her. It reminded me of something of both Ancient Egyptian history and the Arabian Nights. I love books about strong historical women and this book did not disappoint in that regard. I love that she conquered Solomon with her words and by not revealing her face for most of the storyline! I was glad that she managed to find some true love, despite the tragedy in her life. I think I liked and respected her more because she did not grow up a privileged brat but rather had to fend for herself and fight to be independent as a ruler and lover. Highly recommended, 5 stars.

Disclaimer: I received this advanced reader’s copy book via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.