The Heart of a King, by Jill Eileen Smith

book coverPublisher’s Overview:

Get swept away by a story of love, loss, and longing

King Solomon could–and did–have anything he wanted, including many women from many lands. But for all of his wealth and wisdom, did he or the women he loved ever find what they were searching for?

In this engrossing novel, find yourself whisked away to ancient Israel, where you’ll meet four remarkable women: Naamah the desert princess, Abishag the shepherdess, Siti the daughter of a pharaoh, and Nicaula the queen of Sheba. As you experience the world of Solomon through his eyes and theirs, you’ll grapple with whether this king’s storied wisdom ultimately benefited him and those he loved . . . or betrayed them.

First Thoughts:

I’m proud to be a member of Jill Eileen Smith’s launch team for The Heart of a King. I’ve enjoyed her previous novels, and have found them true to the Biblical text.

My Take:

Once upon a time (between 2014 and 2017 actually), Jill Eileen Smith released a series of novellas about the women in King Solomon’s life. I haven’t read them. I don’t know why, but I suspect it was due to the usual book problem in my life: there are too many of them and I simply don’t have enough time to read all of them. Anyway, Smith has now edited and compiled them as a complete novel. Only whereas each novella was written from the point of view of the main character, the novel features a mix of perspectives. And one of those is Solomon himself.

Jill Eileen Smith focuses on four women connected with Solomon in the Old Testament: his first wife, Naamah; Abishag, who was originally brought to the palace as a “bed warmer” of sorts for his father; an unnamed “Pharaoh’s daughter” who brought with her a Canaanite city her father had previously conquered; and the legendary Queen of Sheba. Each provoked different feelings in me, a testament to Smith’s writing. There was sympathy for Naamah, the first wife who had naively married for love, and some slightly for Abishag as well who’d been put in a difficult situation. The Egyptian woman frustrated me with her demands, and the queen was a mystery. But, by far, the worst character in the piece was Solomon himself.

Where do I start with him? He came across as an arrogant, smarmy coward. This characterization put me right off Song of Songs, which sounded like a bunch of chat up and seduction lines. He used the words with all four women. In today’s parlance, I’d call him a two-timing jerk (or three or four-timing). He disobeyed God by marrying so many women who followed other religions, but thought it was okay because he wasn’t worshiping their idols. And how did he end up with so many wives? Because that was how he made peace treaties with other leaders, by marrying their daughters.

Jill Eileen Smith’s story of The Loves of Solomon is really a sad one. I pitied the daughters who were basically used as pawns by their fathers. The Queen might’ve come to him willingly – and it could be interpreted that she turned the tables on Solomon – but she was still used as a bargaining chip. As for Solomon, he was given a gift of wisdom, but ended up being more of the fool he’d occasionally cite in his proverbs. He put more stock and belief in his gift rather than in the creator of it. But despite its tone, The Heart of a King is still an enjoyable read and is a worthy addition to that group of books, where the fiction is based upon Biblical texts.

Thank you to Revell and the author for my complimentary copy of The Heart of a King.

Have you read The Heart of a King? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.


Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 30 April 2019

Page Count: 432

Read more on:   Revell’s Website   Jill Eileen Smith’s Website   King Solomon


Purchase on:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Books-a-million

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