Customer Reviews: Wisdom's Daughter: A Novel of Solomon and Sheba
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I did have a chance to see the galleys of this novel before publication last year and even give an opinion or two back to the author, and I thought then that this book looked to be very promising. Now, reading it in published form, I think "Wisdom's Daughter" is even better than India Edghill's previous book "Queenmaker"--the story of Queen Michal, Saul's daughter and David's consort.

In "Wisdom's Daughter", Edghill recreates the court of King Solomon and of Bilqis, Queen of Sheba. The author poses an answer to the riddle of the reason behind the Queen's long journey from far-off Sheba to Israel. What were the questions she wished to have answered that were so perplexing? It is rare that a queen would travel for months away from her realm and offer riches beyond imagination for information! Some have speculated that, in the Bible "all she desired" was to have a child by Solomon. Edghill proposes a far more intricate answer.

The writing is stylized though not overly florid, as befits the subject, and the imagery is rich and colorful. The stories of the other queens of Solomon are as interesting as Bilqis' own; a Sword Maiden from Troy, a sorceress who charms snakes to peer into the future, a breeder of tiny dogs, a Northerner whose blonde hair and pale skin is considered exotic and a princess of Cush (Nubia) who is "black but comely" as the Song of Songs states.

Bilqis is joined by Baalit, the splendid daughter of Solomon. She is brilliant and wise enough to rule as a Queen, but in Israel, her brothers, who are by and large quite inferior to her, will succeed to the throne. Characters from "Queenmaker" also make a reappearance, so this novel is in a sense a continuation of the first book. Howver, it stands entirely on its own as a novel. Together, they are fascinating historical fiction, more in the mythical style than in the factual, and filled with romance and adventure. A fine, pleasurable read. Recommended for those who love historical or fantasy fiction.
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on December 30, 2004
In Wisdom's Daughter, Edghill continues the saga of the women in the households of David and Solomon. Each of the wives and concubines emerge as memorable individuals. The author provides a strikingly original premise for the Queen's journey to the court of Solomon; my only criticism is that the ultimate outcome is predictable from an early point in the story, however, the lush descriptions of settings and the well developed characters more than make up for the lack of suspense. Some readers of her first novel (Queenmaker) objected to Edghill's depiction of King David; in this second novel, the primary characters are shown in a more sympathetic light. I was surprised to find how little is known about the real historical figure (the Queen of Sheba), and enchanted by the invented character in this book.
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on July 31, 2006
When I say that this book is sultry it is simply because it truly seems to bring to life the steamyness of love in Solomon's palace, the animosities between his many wives from various religions and cultures, and his slow-burning romance with the Queen of Sheba.

The history seems to me to be plausible and accurate, and straight off the author lets us know the exact biblical text which sparks her tale so as not to delude the reader as to what is fact and what is fiction. There are many tidbits about the unsettled living between the followers of Yahweh and those who worshipped other gods and even goddesses. I also gained a new insight into the politics of royal marriages as diplomatic manuevers.

What I found enjoyable was that the tale was at different points told from the perspectives of different characters: Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, Solomon's daughter, various of his wives, friends and leaders in the royal household. This led to an interesting play of deceptions, misunderstandings, hidden information, etc. which kept the ultimate plot twists and ending somewhat obscured from view, though not completely unpredictible. Much of this is told from the female point of view, which is refreshing in a world that was so dominated by men.

I admit that I finished this in 2 days as a summer read and didn't want to put it down. It was certainly more than worth the under $6 price I paid for it off of a bargain rack. I would recommend it to those who enjoy historical fiction, and in particular religious and Christian historical fiction. Similar books I've read would include Diamant's "The Red Tent" and to a lesser extent Wangerin's "Paul."
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on January 29, 2012
You can have them for free.

I read and liked Edghill's Queenmaker, and I'm a fan of biblical fiction. The story of Solomon and Sheba is only 13 verses of the bible. According to the author, "The great love story of Solomon and Sheba comes not from the Bible, but from three thousand years of romantic folklore...."

I'm not sure if Edghill's attempt was to stretch the 13 verses into 400+ pages, or if she was working off the legend, and at this point, I couldn't care less. This book was a hot mess.

Parts of the book were readable, and the issues I had with it were primarily poor decisions made by the author with regard to the structure of the book, not the story or the writing per se.

Such as:

A massive and rampant overuse of italics.
Multiple narrators - at least 15? One of them dead.
Dialog both anachronistic and trite

The various narrators had me constantly turning to the front to the book to try to figure out who was speaking. Was it Baalit or Bilqis? Abishag or Ahijah? I couldn't keep them straight. To add insult to injury, they all had redundant, whiny, italicized inner monolog. It got to the point where I started thinking in italics. i.e. King Solomon seems like a really good guy. (italics)Solomon sure is a good guy. It's too bad he has to be in this book.(/italics)

The other issue with the changing narrators is we were told everything twice. Baalit entered the Kings chamber. Change to POV Solomon, Baalit entered the chamber. Blah. Blah. Blah. Words with no purpose. It took 140 pages for Solomon and the Queen to even meet.

Readers were twice treated to "something" for thoughts ... "A pomegranate seed for your thoughts" - which I obviously cannot get over, and "a pinch of incense for your thoughts." Upon meeting the Queen, Solomon proclaimed "Great minds think alike", and at one point one of the lesser (forgettable) characters started out their chapter with "Familiarity breeds content; so claimed an old proverb" - Hmmm ... Solomon was around somewhere between the 7th - 10th century (BC or BCE), and the quote - "Familiarity breeds CONTEMPT" is first documented in the first century AD or CE. Ergo --- not ancient at all, but futuristic.

That kind of mistake in writing and editing drives me bananas.

Nitpicking aside, this story could have stayed 13 verses in the bible, and I would have been perfectly content never to know it. The story was slow, the characters hard to distinguish from one another, and structure didn't work at all.
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on October 1, 2004
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.

Harriet Klausner
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on January 23, 2007
This is a great story of what could have, may have or may not have happened when the Queen of Sheba visited the court of King Solomon. I found the novel filled with wisdom and strength from both the female and male characters. It's a fresh and intriguing view of a world long past, with ageless truths sprinkled throughout its pages. In short, I highly recommend this book.
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on March 6, 2006
This book is written very well; however, as a light read, it is hard to follow if you haven't read it for a few days.

There are too many characters, and the author jumps from one character's perspective to another. I initally thought this was a neat way to write the story, but when you like a certain character, you may not hear from or about that character for another hundred pages!

If you can sit down one weekend and read it, I'm sure it'll finish up great (I lost interest about 3/4 of the way through it, and didn't finish), but if you plan to read this over a few weeks--it is too drawn out and hard to follow!
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on August 31, 2006
I loved the prequel, Queenmaker, and I love this even more. The writing was rich, the characters multi-faceted, the story strong and complex. Any reader and lover of history longing for different version of "herstory" should read this. (Of course, one should always start with The Red Tent, if looking for stories of the Old Testament.) I loved it so much, I had to read it again!!
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on October 28, 2015
First you have to believe the Jewish King would name His,daughter from the Love of his,life , after the false God's , and then ignore all that legends,tells of Sheba and her son by Solomon..
This continues,the story of Queen Michal making her the puppet master of two reigns ,while continuing her role as victim..

AND forget any hope of worshipping the One True God , He is not portrayed well in either book.
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on April 9, 2013
The bible mentions the Queen of Sheba's visit to King Soloman, but gives no credible reason why. Why would a very wealthy queen of a very wealthy country travel a thousand miles of desert to give King Soloman a quiz? Now we have a very logical answer. She needs a successor, a woman who can rule Sheba after the present queen, Bilquis, is no longer able. Her daughter has died in the childbirth of her grand daughter, who also died. The only remaining one in her blood line is a man. But Sheba has been ruled by a woman for a thousand years or more. The monarch must be a queen. The present queen has gone to incredible lengths to become pregnant, but with no success. Now what to do? Consult her "god" for advice. After asking her "god" what to do she has no clear answer, but has the impulse to seek the queen to be by travelling north. Jumping ahead, what she finds in Soloman's palace is clearly the answer to her dreams, a young girl who shows all signs of one who will develop into a wise and able queen. It is Wisdom's Daughter! But how can she get the father who happens to be the king to give up his precious daughter to live in a place where she would be essentially gone from his life permanently? How can she even ask him for such an outrageous favor? This novel is an interesting story that has lots of interesting twists and turns and in the end presents a more or less satisfactory, and plausable future for each of the characters. This book is one of my two favorite novels.
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