Title: The Prince’s Psalm
Author: Eric Shaw Quinn
Publisher: DSP Publications
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Genre(s): Gay Literary Fiction, Historical
Page Count: 480
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
1 Samuel 18:1 & 3: “And it came to pass… that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.”
David not only slew Goliath, he won the heart of Prince Jonathan, heir to the throne of Israel. They were star-crossed warrior lovers whose passionate affair changed history and gave rise to the nation of Israel, a legacy that has endured for 3,000 years. Their epic love story stands at the center of a religious tradition that shaped the world.
But Jonathan and David were also two men torn between duty and tradition, driven by their undeniably passionate and physical love for one another. Who were they beyond the historical facts given in the Bible? What were they like—as men? This modern-day novel tells the story of Israel’s first king and the man who captured his heart.
Imagine for a minute the famous statue of David – he stands with the unconscious grace of youth – fresh and unscarred, beautiful curls and distant eyes. While often David is portrayed victorious over Goliath (sometimes with Goliath’s severed head in his grasp), Michelangelo portrays David in the moments before his battle with Goliath – untested, yet resolute.
This is the David we first meet in Eric Shaw Quinn’s wonderful book “The Prince’s Psalm.” The beginning chapters show us David in the valley of Elah as he faces Goliath …. and from there the story backtracks to introduce the two men from ordinary lives who become Kings of Israel.
We meet Saul, who was called from an ordinary life as a mule trader in the hills of Benjamin. He left his beloved wife and son Jonathan to fulfill Samuel’s prophecy to become Israel’s first king and unite his people. Saul’s brilliant military strategy and generous spirit made him a beloved king, but as the years of bloody brutality went by …
Saul could see, with unflinching clarity, the unbearable price he had exacted from all around him—family, friend, and foe—in order to become the king he had been called to be. He could no longer sleep. Food reminded him of the slaughter. The comfort he sought in wine only heightened his growing mistrust of all around him. Delusions of plot and persecution fueled the nightmares that kept him sleepless.
We meet David the natural athlete, the untrained yet skilled musician, the beloved youngest child of his family. David is not the naive shepherd boy of legend, but when he was probably around 15, he was called down from tending sheep by Samuel, the judge over all of Israel, and anointed by him as the next King of Israel. As David’s father Jesse says:
But our David, he is a little rare for the world. Sometimes people destroy what they do not understand; what they haven’t seen before; what they are not expecting.
We meet Jonathan who grew up on his father’s battlefields and could hardly remember life when Saul was just a father. Jonathan loves the man, but hates the King.
Jonathan stood at his father’s side during the ceremony. He harbored doubts. He was following his father into an ill-advised campaign at the behest of a priest he did not trust, on behalf of a God of whom he was, at best, uncertain.
The pace of the book may seem a bit slow, but Eric Shaw Quinn takes the time to weave the story together so once David and Jonathan meet (at around 50%) we truly understand its significance, and its consequences. Their love story is mostly off-page, but you feel the love they share as they pledge a covenant between each other upon the stars in the heavens: “So long as those stars are in the heavens, my love shall last for you.”
Even after 480 pages, once I reached the ending, I wanted the story to continue. Eric Shaw Quinn does a masterful job in taking the story we all think we know and enriches it beautifully. I highly recommend this book!