Guest Post: The Judgement by D.J. Niko

965 BCE

Upon the death of his father, Solomon has been appointed king of the united monarchy of Israel and Judah and charged with building the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. He travels to Egypt to negotiate with Pharaoh Psusennes II for gold for the temple and to improve relations between the two nations. There he falls in love with the pharaoh’s beautiful daughter, Nicaule, and the two kings agree to an arranged marriage. Against her will, for she loves another, Nicaule follows her new husband to Israel.

Forty years later, Solomon’s empire is on the verge of collapse. Power has made him arrogant, permissive, and blind to the scheming of his wife and one of his lieutenants to topple the united monarchy. As the king’s faith falters and his people’s morals collapse, enemies gather at the gates of Israel. A visit from a mysterious queen restores Solomon’s perspective in time to save his soul—but it is too late to preserve his kingdom.

Someone who once was loyal to King Solomon has come back to claim the crown of Israel—and tear Solomon’s empire asunder.


D.J. Niko is the pseudonym for Daphne Nikolopoulos, an award-winning journalist, author, editor, and lecturer who has spent her entire adult life traveling the world.

As a former travel writer and zealous adventurer, she has visited remote spots on six continents, many of which have inspired her archaeological thriller series, The Sarah Weston Chronicles. She was born and raised in Athens, Greece, and now resides in Florida with her family.

Find out more about D.J. Niko on her website.

Praise for D.J. Niko

“Like a sandstorm roaring out of the Judean Desert, The Riddle of Solomon rips readers out of the familiar world, dropping them breathless in a place where ancient kings still keep their secrets. D. J. Niko’s storytelling carries the grit of desert dust and the seductive scent of incense on every page as Sarah Weston races with a madman to save the treasures that King Solomon left behind.” – Mary Anna Evans, award-winning author of Artifacts and Wounded Earth

“Take a dash of Dan Brown, a sprinkle of Raiders of the Lost Ark, and a whole lot of originality, and you’ve got the recipe for D.J. Niko’s latest novel, the second in the spellbinding Sarah Weston saga. For readers who like their adventures steeped in research, authenticity, and nonstop intrigue, The Riddle of Solomon is highly recommended!” – Ronald Malfi, author of Floating Staircase and Cradle Lake

“Action, adventure, romance and historical mystery—who could ask for more? The Oracle is a great read.” —James O. Born, award-winning author of Scent of Murder

“Although each book in the Weston series can be read as a stand-alone, there is clearly a story arc involving the series’ two lead characters, one that enriches each book and makes the series more than just a collection of independent thrillers.” David Pitt, Booklist

“This wonderful action-adventure story has all the elements of Indiana JonesTomb Raider and a little James Bond thrown in for good measure. This is exactly the kind of story I love, and I found it very hard to put down. The story moves between the fall of Delphi and a modern-day archeology thriller. Well researched, well written, with strong and believable characters.” — LibraryThing

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The Judgment tour graphic (1)

History With a Bit of Spice

Researching for a work of historical fiction is complicated enough. But researching the ancient world, which has left us with so many blanks, is almost like archaeologist’s work: unearthing fragments and piecing them together with a bit of educated conjecture to make a coherent whole.

Because of scant recorded history dating to the tenth century BCE, researching my historical novel The Judgment took a good three years, during which I was dusting off fragments and trying to make sense of them in order to weave a narrative. And there were plenty of times when I wondered, “Why on earth did I pick such a complicated subject?”

The short answer: A few years ago, when I was researching for my archaeological thriller The Riddle of Solomon, I became fascinated with the stories about King Solomon, son of King David and ruler of the united monarchy of Israel and Judah. Everyone, regardless of nationality or faith, has heard something of the legend of Solomon: the king’s untold riches, his wisdom, his building of the first temple in Jerusalem, his affair with the Queen of Sheba, his hundreds of wives, his outsize passion, his ultimate fall from grace. King Solomon has become a cross-cultural symbol for wealth, power, leadership, piety, and insight—all universally desirable qualities.

The interesting thing about Solomon, however, is that most of what we know about his life is written in the Old Testament, in the books of 2 Chronicles and 1 Kings. Mainstream theological literature does not reward us with a lot of detail, and archaeology has produced theories but no hard data confirming his existence and the breadth of his empire.

It took a lot of digging in mystical texts and extrabiblical sources to get to know this man and understand his actions. How did he build an empire of epic proportions in a time when such wealth was notably absent in the Holy Land? What was his relationship to Egypt and other neighboring nations? Why did he marry an Egyptian woman (and, subsequently, other foreigners)? Why did he falter in his faith? Was it that lapse that led to the spectacular collapse of the united monarchy after Solomon died in 930 BCE?

The more I dug, the clearer it became that I needed to tell his story from the perspective of the women in his life. His Egyptian wife, Nicaule Tashere, is the main character in the book. The daughter of a pharaoh and the lover of the Egyptian army captain, Nicaule is haughty and obstinate, bewitching her Israeli husband with her flesh but withholding access to her soul. Her resentment grows through the marriage until it becomes outright rancor that leads to conspiracy and the ultimate betrayal.

On the other side of the equation is Basemath, Solomon and Nicaule’s elder daughter. History grants no insight to Basemath’s life, so I took some liberties with her character, painting a figure that was fiercely loyal to her father and her country. In The Judgment, Basemath becomes a symbol for faith, sacrifice, and the future of Israel—the antithesis of her mother.

I’ve been asked by more than a few people if The Judgment is a religious book. It’s not. To be sure, there are scenes that have been recorded in the Bible, since I’m dealing with biblical figures. But the story really is one of passion, palace intrigue, conspiracy, betrayal, and war. Of personal loss and redemption. These are themes that have been repeated throughout history and have always colored the fabric of the human condition.

Want to Feature D.J. Niko?

If you would like a copy of the book for review or to conduct an interview with D.J. Niko, please contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Publicist, at Hook of a Book Media:


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