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.
The truth is far more than even the storytellers could conjure. The riches more priceless. The secrets more corrosive. The love and betrayal more passionate and devastating.
Across the Red Sea, the pillars of the great oval temple once bore my name: Bilqis, Daughter of the Moon. Here, to the west, the porticoes knew another: Makeda, Woman of Fire. To the Israelites, I was queen of the spice lands, which they called Sheba.
A couple of weeks ago I had the fortune to be receive an eARC for Tosca Lee‘s The Legend Of Sheba – Rise of a Queen. Before, I have just read The Book of Mortals series in collaboration with Ted Dekker but I was curious to read a work of her own. Coincidentally I was reading 1 Kings 10 when I was told I’d take part reading an advanced copy.
You don’t have to be a Bible geek to understand the story. From the very beginning every detail you need to know about places, governments, customs and religious stuff is broadly explained as part of the story itself. As you read you get to know and understand what matters. It’s remarkable the way Tosca goes into all these old traditions of the kingdoms involved without feeling you’rereading a history book.
This is a first person novel, which means the whole thing is narrated by Sheba. As a guy I was able to distinguish her experience in the story as well as I was able to perceive the manly and kind of seductive personality of king Solomon. I felt empathy for the eunuch who served the queen as I felt repulsion for some of the characters and their evil actions. I have to say that even though each character had its own voice, I was lost sometimes due to the number of them. You may be familiar with this feeling or maybe you have a super memory for characters.
This is Biblical fiction and you’ll surely find Biblical content. But what I liked about The Legend of Sheba was the realism given to the story. God is mentioned, sure, but there are mentions of other gods and rituals from other religions. King Solomon, the same from our Bibles, also has a big role in the story, but is the same king Solomon who was led astray into pagan worship at the end of his life.
Tosca Lee is a genius, seriously, and this story is a proof of that. One thing, tough, is that I’d recommend this book to older audiences, there are references to rape, sex and pagan rituals that could not be properly understood by some even they’re part of the story.
A couple of days ago Tosca Lee released Ismeni, a short prequel for The Legend of Sheba. The best part is that is totally free in eBook format. You can find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble among many others, click here to see more options.
Remember, Ismeni was released past Tuesday as a prequel but The Legend of Sheba will be available on Sept. 9th.
I received this eARC from Simon and Schuster in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.