The Judgment

Written by D. J. Niko
Review by J. Lynn Else

In Jerusalem in 965 BCE, Solomon is in the midst of constructing the Lord’s Temple. For the inner sanctuary, future home to the Ark of the Covenant, Solomon seeks gold to cover the walls. However, to acquire such large amounts of gold he’ll need to negotiate for it with the Egyptian pharaoh. In Tanis, Egypt, he falls in love with Pharaoh’s daughter, Nicaule. To symbolize their new alliance, Solomon requests Nicaule for his queen. However, Nicaule’s love belongs to another, and she will spend all her life trying to topple Solomon’s empire.

“The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down” (Proverbs). This is the theme for the life of Nicuale, our story’s protagonist. Despite her treachery and selfishness against Solomon, Nicaule’s chapters are still captivating, and she’s not a likable person – props to Ms. Niko’s page-turning plotline. Other characters providing voice to this story include High Priest Zadok and Solomon’s daughter Basemath.

There are a few historical inaccuracies. One, I don’t believe an Egyptian princess would use the name “Thebes.” This was a Greek label for the Egyptian city; the Egyptian name was Waset. Additionally, there are some out-of-time word choices, including words like “consumption” (460 BCE was when Hippocrates first referenced this) and “toxic cocktail.” The first record of the cocktail beverage was 1803, and “toxic” is a modern term.

I would have liked more of Basemath. Her character’s strength of faith and love of family create a more intriguing/likable narrative voice; a few scenes of Nicaule’s lovemaking could have been removed. While not vividly explicit, there is some heavy-narrated foreplay.

Overall, Niko’s enchanting scenic descriptions and strong characters make this an entertaining read bringing to life people of deep faith. I thank her for narrating religious beliefs so beautifully and sensitively.