Against all odds Makeda, daughter of an obscure African chieftain, is chosen as Queen of all Sheba.
Recognising her own inexperience, yet desperately wanting to address Sheba's appalling and deep-rooted social injustice, she is persuaded by her cousin Tamrin, a wealthy merchant and narrator of the novel, to visit Solomon, King of Israel, to discover how he governs his kingdom.
She is hugely impressed by Israel's general prosperity, by the wisdom and integrity with which Solomon rules, and by the Hebrew religion, which she adopts.
However, all is not as it seems. Solomon, trapped in a childless, loveless, marriage, is entranced by the beautiful and intelligent African princess.
While she returns to her homeland, determined to put what she has learned into practice, the splendid King of Israel starts to lose his way :