The Mark of Solomon by Elizabeth E. Wein

I think we’ve safely established that I’m a book pusher and there’s nothing I enjoy promoting more than under-the-radar books. I am constantly amazed that so many excellent books don’t get the attention that they deserve. I reviewed The Sunbird by Elizabeth E. Wein last year, hoping that more people would read her books but I haven’t been that successful because I haven’t seen reviews of that book in the past year. Also, it makes me sad that The Sunbird is now out of print. So now I feel like I need to talk about The Mark of Solomon, the duology that comes after The Sunbird, because the blogosphere seriously needs to show more Elizabeth E. Wein love.

Here’s the summary for The Lion Hunter, the first book in The Mark of Solomon duology, from the author’s website:

It is the sixth century in Aksum, Africa. Twelve-year-old Telemakos — the half Ethiopian grandson of Artos, King of Britain — is still recovering from his ordeal as a government spy in the far desert. But not all those traitors have been accounted for. Before Telemakos is fully himself again, tragedy and menace strike; for his own safety he finds himself sent, with his young sister, Athena, to live with Abreha, the ruler of Himyar — a longtime enemy of the Aksumites, now perhaps a friend. Telemakos’s aunt Goewin, Artos’s daughter, warns him that Abreha is dangerous, a man to watch carefully. Telemakos promises he will be mindful — but he does not realize that Goewin’s warnings will place him in more danger than he ever imagined.

I’ve already dubbed Telemakos as Gen-in-Africa so that should serve as enough encouragement for all Megan Whalen Turner fans out there. I originally found out about these books from Sounis, back when I didn’t have a blog and I got most of my recommendations from that community. If you have no idea what I’m talking about (shame on you!), Gen is the main character in the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner and he’s all kinds of awesome. Telemakos is young but he’s wise beyond his years. His upbringing as a half-British, half-Aksumite noble and his innate curiosity has landed him right smack in the middle of political intrigue involving several countries. I find it ironic that he has such a striking physical appearance – cinnamon-colored skin, bright blue eyes and pale hair – and yet he excels in subtlety. A line from page 11 reads: “Oh, the wealth of intrigue you heard when no one imagined you were listening.”

Elizabeth E. Wein is not afraid of letting her characters suffer and even though I’ve known from the start that Telemakos is as brave as they come, my heart goes out to him whenever something terrible happens. *huggles Telemakos* He also kept surprising me with how intelligent his strategies were. Sorry for being vague but he kept being thrown into situations where he had to make the most out of his wits if he wanted to keep himself and everyone he cares for out of harm. Also, the secondary characters in these books? They’re all so smart and complex and they keep readers guessing. You never know who’s really trustworthy. Which also paves the way for complicated relationships between the characters. I love that you can feel the love and respect that the characters have for each other but their interactions are never simple.

The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom should be read together because the first book ends on a major cliffhanger. I heard that they’re actually just one book that was split by the publisher, I have no idea why. The Sunbird is the first book about Telemakos and The Mark of Solomon duology continues with his journey. They’re historical fiction books set in Aksum (ancient Ethiopia), Africa but there’s a hint of Arthurian legend in them as well. Telemakos is actually the son of Medraut (Mordred) and the grandson of Artos (Arthur). So if you’re a fan of historical fiction or Arthurian tales or you just want to read books with excellent worldbuilding, multi-faceted characters and plots riddled with conspiracies then you should pick these up as soon as you can. And spread the word about them when you’re done reading.

Other reviews:
Blogging for a Good Book
By Singing Light
Sherwood Smith

14 thoughts on “The Mark of Solomon by Elizabeth E. Wein

  1. I LOVE THESE BOOKS SO MUCH! And I agree, I cannot understand why they’re not more widely known. Everyone I know who’s read them absolutely loves them, and yet they’re completely under the radar somehow.

    I’m looking forward to reading Wein’s next book (Code Name Verity) but I’m really really hoping that someday we get a bit more of Telemakos’s story–I can’t help feeling that there’s more to tell.

    • Sigh, sometimes I get frustrated that mediocre books get all the attention while brilliant books like these are ignored. I went through the reviews in Goodreads and was surprised at how many mentioned MWT in their reviews.

      Me too! I already have that book on my wishlist. I would love for Wein to continue with Telemakos’ story, I bet he’ll be even more awesome as a young adult.

      • I definitely heard about them from Sounis, so that might be part of it. But agggh, yes, it drives me crazy.

        I had heard vague rumors that she was working on another Telemakos book, but not recently. *hopes anyway*

  2. I enjoyed these two myself, and I keep meaning to go back to the very start of the larger series back in Britain….someday!

    (I have a review of The Empty Kingdom– I’m glad I just went back to it, because I’d made a nasty mistake viz titles….sigh)

    • I’ve read the first two books – The Winter Prince and A Coalition of Lions – but my favorites are still the books about Telemakos, starting from The Sunbird. 🙂

      I checked out your review and I wanted to include it in my roundup of links here but it includes spoilers for The Lion Hunter. It’s a great review though and I’m glad that you’ve read the books as well.

  3. I have both of these books, but I don’t have The Sunbird yet, so I haven’t tried reading them. Is it necessary to read The Sunbird before this duology?

    • Hmm not really necessary but I think it would be better if you do read it first. You can borrow my copy the next time we meet up. 🙂 I bought it from Fully Booked a few years ago. I saw it several times in some of their branches after that and if I’d known that it would go out of print, I would have bought extra copies.

      • I just checked on Better World Books and it’s available over there, both in paperback and hardcover editions. Hmm I’m tempted to get the hardcover so it will match my copies of The Lion Hunter and The Empty Kingdom. 😛

  4. Ever since I read your We Love YA post I’ve wanted to read something by Elizabeth Wein. My library has The Sunbird and I did check it out once but never got to it. I will bump it up again and try to read it this year. 🙂

    • Yay, I’m glad you’re interested in reading her books! And that your library already has a copy of The Sunbird. At least you wouldn’t have a hard time looking for a copy even if it’s out of print. I do hope you get to read it. It’s a slim novel and I’d love to know what you think of her writing. 🙂

  5. Pingback: More People Should Read the Lion Hunters Series by EWein | Chachic's Book Nook

  6. Pingback: Top Ten Favorite Book Covers Of Books I’ve Read | Chachic's Book Nook

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