Preliminary cover design, based on one of my own paintings.
Preliminary cover design, based on one of my own paintings.

"QUEEN MAKEDA'S SISTER" is a semi-historical novel, set in the Jerusalem of King Solomon, and it revolves around the visit of the Queen of Sheba and its aftermath. 

 

 

When Queen Makeda, who is known to most people simply as the Queen of Sheba, leaves Jerusalem after having spent six months there by the side of King Solomon, her younger sister, the Princess Tehtena, secretly stays behind.  Drawn hopelessly to the glamorous king, who in turn is utterly devastated by the departure of the young queen, she seeks employment at his court.  Afraid to reveal to him who she really is and how she feels, she changes her name to Naarah and begins to work at the palace as an assistant to the seamstress Deborah.  All she wants is be close to him.  Managing to remain unrecognized for all that time, she spends her life near the king for many years, becoming an eyewitness to his spiritual and emotional decline.

Twenty-two years later, Menelik, the son whom Makeda had by Solomon, arrives in Jerusalem to meet his father.  Here the narrative of the novel begins.  Having been made intensely homesick again by her nephew’s unforeseen appearance, Naarah suddenly finds herself torn between the dream of still winning Solomon’s affection and the overwhelming desire to return to the land of her birth.  But then she finds out about a conspiracy that could greatly harm her adopted nation…

 

This is a meditative novel. It is 210 pages long and is set in our time.

Here is the beginning of the first chapter:

 

"Never challenge God," the old man whispered, "never challenge God."  Oh, how clearly I remember those words and the voice that had uttered them, although I wished that I did not.  But no matter how inextinguishable this phrase may have been engraved on my memory, I have a hard time believing the story to which it is connected.

Not that I am a religious person--if anything, you might call me an agnostic.  As such, I refuse to favor one religion over another, maintaining that people can never know enough about the unseen to draw a map of it for others to follow.

At the same time, as I observe the sheer beauty of a world that has all the evidence of having been brilliantly designed, I do see the need for a creator.  And while I judge myself incapable of even remotely grasping his nature at the present, I have at least certain expectations regarding his character, and amongst those are fairness and generosity.  In the very least I imagine him to have the kind of magnanimity that would see no momentous offense in the mad actions of man.  In short, I cannot imagine a god who would do what, indeed, he must have done if what I heard were true.

But reluctant as I am to...