I apologise to the author for the lateness of my post. I’ve had unforeseen internet trouble and I’m posting this from my phone.
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
Lift the veil of legend for the untold story of Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, and Bathsheba, wife and mother of Israel’s first kings.
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?
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 Association 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 aficionado (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.
The Queen of Sheba is a figure masked in mystery; simply because…in 550BC, there was not the level of documentation there is now. I could rehash for you the plot, but honestly, that would be a disservice. This is a book that I find myself recommending to people because it is that damned good. Mr. Graham has a gift for bringing this world to vivid reality. It was not hard to forget that I was actually in Florida in 2019 reading. The story is excellently written and intriguing from the first page. I lost myself very quickly in this one. That Margaret George wrote a blurb for it said a lot to me, because firstly, she’s one of my favorites, and secondly, I find her stamp of approval to weigh a great deal with me. I was not disappointed with this at all.
As someone who doesn’t get along with her own half-sisters, it was curious to read about Makeda and Bilkis and how different they became. I enjoyed that aspect greatly, actually. I also enjoyed the fact that even though this is Biblical, (Bilkis is also known as Bathsheba) I didn’t mind. Some come off as overly preachy, this is not one of those books. It was a brilliant read and you find yourself attached to some of the characters–some more than others–but always entertaining.
Blog Tour Schedule
Tuesday, April 16
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past
Wednesday, April 17
Review at Pursuing Stacie
Feature at The Caffeinated Bibliophile
Thursday, April 18
Review at Bookfever
Excerpt at Maiden of the Pages
Friday, April 19
Feature at What Is That Book About
Guest Post & Excerpt at To Read, Or Not to Read
Saturday, April 20
Excerpt at Spellbound by History
Monday, April 22
Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit
Tuesday, April 23
Review at 100 Pages a Day
Wednesday, April 24
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Thursday, April 25
Feature at Let Them Read Books
Guest Post at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots
Friday, April 26
Review at Red Headed Book Lady
Tuesday, April 30
Review & Excerpt at Clarissa Reads it All
Wednesday, May 1
Review at Library of Clean Reads
Friday, May 3
Review at Historical Fiction Reviews
Monday, May 6
Review at Just One More Chapter
Tuesday, May 7
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews
Thursday, May 9
Excerpt at Kimber Li
Friday, May 10
Review at History from a Woman’s Perspective
Monday, May 13
Review at Curling up by the Fire
Tuesday, May 14
Review at Amy’s Booket List
Wednesday, May 15
Feature at Donna’s Book Blog
Friday, May 17
Review at Coffee and Ink
Interview at Myths, Legends, Books & Coffee Pots
During the Blog Tour, we will be giving away two paperback copies of Song of Songs! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on May 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to the US & Canada only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspicion of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Song of Songs
The guard drew back his sword for the fatal strike. Yetzer raised a hand against the blow, and the image of the Hermit, ninth among the mystical figures, leapt to his memory’s aid. Though his left hand was empty, it mimicked the Hermit’s raised lantern that illumined the path before him.
Hesitantly, Yetzer stretched forward his right hand in imitation of the Hermit’s staff that steadied his pace. He searched the guard’s face, but the man’s expression remained inscrutable. As a final, hesitant measure, Yetzer stretched his left foot forward to complete the sign.
Both guards immediately lowered their weapons and stepped to the side.
“Follow the path,” the lead guard told Yetzer. “When you reach the gate at its end, knock three times and you will be admitted. Give the sign and the word, hreri.”
Yetzer nodded and followed the path through an alabaster gateway. Where the Postulants’ Chamber was a wonder of construction and artistry, the Courtyard of the Initiates was a tribute to nature. Trees and plants of every description stretched heavenward in praise to Amun, the eternal shining one.
Yetzer traced the meandering pathway, intoxicated by the scent of the flowers, and lulled by the drone of bees. He sobered as the path ended at a high, vine-covered wall. He looked about, but the promised gate was nowhere to be seen. He was about to follow the trail back when his eye settled on a small flower, its pink petals nearly lost among the green tangle of the vines.
The lily—hreri in the language of Kemet—beckoned to Yetzer. He scanned the area around the flower and, seeing nothing amiss, gently pulled on the bud. When it remained firmly planted amongst the vines, Yetzer stretched a hand into the green. Thorns raked at his skin. His elbow had just disappeared amid the vines when his fingers brushed hard stone.
He groped about the hidden surface, heedless of the ravaging thorns. He touched metal and a jolt of excitement ran up his arm. Yetzer traced the outline of a metal boss then found a handle in its center. He wrapped his fingers about the handle and pulled.
He tightened his grip, settled back on his heels and tugged again. Still nothing. He was about to tear leaf from vine when Pharaoh’s words rose in his memory.
Knock on any door, and it will open before you.
The king had spoken the words during dinner at the palace, the night Yetzer chose the temple over Ameniye. Yetzer set aside his longing for the princess, his thoughts of comfort and riches. It was for light he had chosen, and for light he was here. Following Pharaoh’s advice, he adjusted his grip on the handle and knocked three times.
Silence filled the span of five heartbeats. Relief came with the soft rasp of metal upon stone. The grinding stopped and the throwing of a latch was followed by Yetzer’s scream.