Tell us something about where you live
I am a descendant of Israelite tribes who have migrated south to settle in Ethiopia. Our mountain kingdom stretches across the breathtaking Mountains of Simien and around Lake Tana. The Ethiopian Highlands are beautiful, fertile, and comfortable to live in thanks to their temperate climate.
My royal seat is in the City of Simien, where I preside over my kingdom in a large airy palace. Twelve gilded-gold steps lead to my throne, one for each tribe of Israel.
What is it like to be a queen of Simien?
I was only seventeen years old when I became a queen after my father, King Gideon, was treacherously murdered by Aksum agents. I wasn’t prepared to assume this role, but I’m doing my best.
I spend every morning in my audience chamber, listening to petitions and making decisions. After audience time is over, I take a quick midday meal and spend the afternoon with my military strategists and advisors, planning a war on Aksum.
If I’m lucky enough to have some free time, I go for a stroll in the palace gardens or ride out to survey the country. I also enjoy browsing through old books and scrolls in my father’s library.
Overall, being a queen takes up almost all of my time. At least I get to rest on the day of Shabbat!
Who are the special people in your life?
My mother died when I was very young, and I had developed a very special relationship with my father. I was his right hand and sat on his councils since I was twelve. As the eldest child, I was my father’s heir and had to prepare for my future duties.
I loved and admired my father, who was wise, kind, caring, and generous. His death came as a harsh blow.
Shortly after my father’s murder, I became engaged to Prince Sahama. Since it is mainly a political alliance, I am still unsure what I think about my future husband. Can I trust him? Is he really on my side? It’s lucky I have my military advisor, Gedalya, to give me solid counsel.
What is your heart’s deepest desire?
I live for the day when we smash the gates of Aksum and raze that vile city to the ground. I swore to avenge my father’s murder, which means I’m going to kill the King of Aksum and his entire court. Destroying Aksum will also protect my people from physical and spiritual warfare – Aksum’s Christian priests are trying to make us give up the Hebrew faith, and I know they won’t rest until they conquer our kingdom.
What are you most afraid of?
I fear that our mission will fail. If we don’t bring Aksum down, they will take over our domain, force us to convert to Christianity, and sell my people into slavery. I can’t let this happen!
What do you expect the future will hold for you?
When Aksum falls, I will rule most of Ethiopia. I will have access to Red Sea ports and will be able to trade with far-off lands, instead of being isolated in my landlocked kingdom. One day, maybe I will get to sail to Israel and see the land where my ancestors had once lived.
As my kingdom grows, so will my responsibility. That’s where I will need Prince Sahama. He will rule by my side and help me subdue Aksum nobility which will surely resist my rule. It will also be my duty to provide the kingdom with heirs. When I have children, I hope our relationship will be as close and trusting as mine was with my father.
What have you learned about yourself in the course of your story?
That being a queen is hard. I never imagined how tough it would be to put someone to death, to question the loyalty of everyone around me, or to agree to a marriage just because I believe it will be useful to my kingdom.
I also learned that I’m not always right. Sometimes, I should listen to my councilors rather than pushing ahead with risky ventures.
What are you most proud of?
I do my best to be just. I never condemn or justify someone without listening to all sides of the case. My audience chamber is open to all, noblemen and simple folk alike. Nobody is below my notice, and I believe my people feel comfortable to come to me and share their concerns or ask for help. That was how my father ruled – he was a king of all his people, and I’m upholding this tradition.
Hannah Ross wrote her first story at the age of six and hasn’t stopped since. She is a multi-genre author who loves to escape into different worlds, whether it takes the form of fantasy, sci-fi, or historical tales.
Hannah’s fascination with Jewish history led her to explore the stories and legends of the Ethiopian diaspora, which led to the birth of two novels set in Ethiopia during the Aksumite era: Land of the Lost Tribe and her newest release, Queen of Ophir.
Hannah enjoys a quiet life with her husband, four children, two cats and a flock of chickens.