Review: The Judgment by D.J. Niko

I’ve really enjoyed Niko’s Sarah Weston series over the years and was eager to learn she was writing a new novel…..though not a Sarah Weston novel, this book caught my eye for a number of reasons.

First of all, I love the cover art, and second Niko does ancient, Middle Eastern history so very well that I couldn’t wait to see what this novel was about.

The year is 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.

This book begins immediately with action. A battle, which sucked me in right away. I love when stories begin without too much back story off the bat. I was quickly invested in the story and characters based on the opening of her book. Who are the players? What’s going on? What’s the political climate like at this time and in this empire? She orientates the reader right away in the opening pages of the book.

I know the basics of King Solomon’s story based on Biblical readings but Niko clearly understands that not every reader knows the story, so she helps the audience navigate this tale by recounting various important pieces when necessary and balancing it with known knowledge.

There is a lot going on in this book…..action, adventure, danger, double crossing, mystery, history, and romance. The book had all the right elements but there was one thing that bogged things up a bit for me and that was the overly ‘flowery’ and descriptiveness. I am all for adding big words and eloquent descriptions….especially in historical fiction but in this case it was a little much.

Sometimes it’s easy to over do it a little with the detail one wants to provide and that happened in this book for me. It wasn’t every page but it happened enough throughout the novel that I found myself getting hung up on the descriptions rather than moving forward in the story.

I don’t remember her Sarah Weston books being this dense in detail but for some reason this book was more of a slower read than her other books based on some of the language she used throughout. I wasn’t sure if she was trying to make the reader feel like they were there or if she really wanted to pain an image…..I personally felt like her story telling skills and historic detail put me in the story much more than her descriptions and word choices etc.

As I said though, Niko really knows her ancient Middle Eastern/Near East history so well that, dense or not, I enjoyed how the story unfolded and it made me see King Solomon in a whole different perspective! I enjoyed the action sequences and the characters but for me it was the history that won me over.

Though this is a different book than her Sarah Weston books, I think there is much for readers to enjoy…..the action, danger, and intrigue is enough for even the most seasoned historical fiction readers…’s something new and different in a genre dominated by Tudor, Victorian, and Regency periods…..the Ancient World is an untapped period in history that gives the ‘big three’ a run for their money when it comes to ‘court’ politics and wars!

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Judgment by D.J. Niko

  • Paperback, 416 pages
    Published May 10th 2016 by Medallion Press
    ISBN  194254622X (ISBN13: 9781942546221)
  • Review copy provided by: Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 3.5 out of 5

Genre: Historical fiction, adventure

Memorable lines/quotes: NA

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