by India Edghill
Category: Fiction / Historical
0 pages; ISBN: 0312289375
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner
St. Martin’s, Oct 2004, $24.95, 432 pp.
With the deaths of her daughter and granddaughter, Queen Bilgis of Sheba needs a true female heir to one day replace her on the throne. She prays to the Goddess she worships, who tells her that she will find the sire of her heir in the Land of Israel. Thus Bilgis treks to Jerusalem seeking the designated one.
In Jerusalem, King Solomon rules wisely over a land of milk and honey, but worries about who will replace him on the throne. The best candidate is his daughter Baalit, but females cannot rule Israel unlike Sheba. Bilgis and Solomon appreciate the wisdom they see in one another; Bilgis also sees astuteness in Baalit, who she feels should be named successor. As Solomon’s wives battle behind curtains encouraged by the sanctimonious Prophet Alijah to influence the king to dump the pagan, Bilgis tries to persuade her lover that his teenage daughter should become the next ruler as she is the best suited of his children.
This insightful and believable retelling of the classic Solomon-Sheba match up brings to life the era yet places a mesmerizing spin on Queen Bilgis quest in seeking the King of the Jews. The comparison between the equal rights Sheba with its matriarchal primogeniture vs. the patriarchal Israel is an interesting perspective (perhaps too modernized for that era) while the court intrigue of Solomon’s wives provides a glimpse of the personal agendas and thus the times. The most interesting gyration is that Alijah comes across as a holier-than-thou preacher warning the King about his tryst with the pagan and coaxing his wives to stir trouble. As with the QUEENMAKER, India Edghill puts a female twist to heroes of the bible.
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