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 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.
Blog Tour Schedule
Tuesday, April 16
Review & Interview at Passages to the Past
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
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
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.
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A pair of Bedou rushed the warrior. He turned toward them on sleek, muscled legs, bare from the top of his bronze greaves to the hem of the tunic that scarcely covered his loincloth. Twin swords spun in his long-fingered hands and whistled with blood thirst.
The warrior sidestepped one of his attackers, who tripped over the dead Bedou in his headlong rush. The golden one then ducked beneath the sword stroke of the other man and plunged one of his blades into the man’s groin. The raider shrieked and fell to the ground. The warrior turned toward the remaining man who scrambled back toward Bilkis in her refuge.
Without a thought, Bilkis yanked the javelin from the wound in Leah’s breast. Ignoring Rahab’s cries, she leapt atop the bales of fleece against which the Bedou cowered. He looked up at Bilkis to reveal a boy’s tear-streaked face. He muttered what Bilkis assumed were prayers to the gods of the desert.
“There’s no need to pray,” Bilkis said in a soft, soothing voice.
The boy wiped his eyes and cracked a wary smile.
“You may speak to the gods directly,” Bilkis added, and plunged the javelin downward.
The boy raised a hand in feeble defense, but the blade pierced him under the arm, slid through his chest, and emerged low on his other side to sink into the sand. The depth of the blow took Bilkis by surprise and threw her off balance. She teetered off her perch, but the shining one caught her in his arms.
“The honeybee stings,” he said, his voice like a song and his breath sweet in Bilkis’s nostrils.
Before she could respond, the warrior set her on her feet and rushed to where a dozen more bronze-clad warriors exchanged blows with the Bedou. There seemed to be three times as many of the desert raiders, each with a horse, but the sure-footed warriors stood strong against them.
Bilkis cried out as a Bedou on a large, black horse bore down on her golden savior. The warrior turned, dove under the galloping hooves, then raised his twin swords into the beast’s belly. Rider and mount tumbled in a dusty cloud. The warrior sprang to his feet, raced toward the stunned raider and, with a single stroke, separated head from shoulders.
At that, the surviving Bedou lost heart. Fewer than a dozen remained, and these pulled hard on their horses’ reins and fled to the desert from which they had come. The warriors cheered them on their way, but there was no rejoicing among the members of the caravan.
Rahab’s wails echoed through the camp, closely matched by cries of the few men and fewer women who remained. Eliam, his head bleeding and eyes unfocused, staggered toward the makeshift barricade. Abram came close behind him. He and Bilkis helped the merchant over the stacked goods. The abbreviated family fell into one another’s arms.
Bilkis turned away to let them grieve in peace. She managed three steps before the world spun, her knees buckled and she fell to the ground. It was only a few moments before strong hands took her by the shoulders and sat her upright.
“Here, now, my honey. Be at peace.”
The warrior held a flask to Bilkis’s lips and she tipped her head back to drink. Fire coursed over her tongue and down her throat. She coughed and spat up the foul brew.
“What is that?” she demanded as her eyes flooded with tears.
“Nectar for the bee,” the man said, his eyes full of humor.
He took a pull from the flask, shook his head like a shying horse and gave a lion’s roar. Despite the horror strewn around them, Bilkis couldn’t help but laugh. The warrior raised an eyebrow and tipped the flask toward Bilkis. She nodded and took a cautious sip. The drink warmed her to her belly and calmed what fright her warrior’s touch had not yet eased.
“Does the bee have a name?” he asked.
“Bilkis,” she told him, “daughter of Karibil, Mukarrib of all Saba.”
The warrior frowned as he repeated her words, his northern tongue stumbling over them.
“Daughter of Saba,” he at last dubbed her. “I am Auriyah, son of King Tadua of Yisrael, and commander of the Hatti guard. And I think you, Bilkis bat-Saba, shall be my bride.”