The Queen and the Heretic

One of my novels, which was most enjoyable to write, was The Queen and the Heretic. Had it been couched in the form of a play, one could have called it a tragedy. It is basically the story of a young boy, the son of an official in the kingdom of Palmyra and Syria, who falls in love with the young princess Zenobia. He is 14 and she is 10 when they first briefly meet. Their love is tragic, because a few years later the young couple run away to Tarsus, along with Zenobia’s slave girl and friend Nefertari, where they spend some brief time, being married by the priest of Apollo. Zenobia becomes pregnant. But their idyllic young love is tragic, because Zenobia’s father, sends men to apprehend Zenobia, and roughly they snatch her out of the arms of her new husband and lover, Paul. A forced divorce takes place. Zenobia agrees to spare Paul’s life. Paul is hurt. He does not understand her motives. Zenobia later bears Paul’s son and grieves over him deeply. Paul feels there is nothing he can do. He goes on with his life.

Later, Zenobia is practically forced to marry the young prince who will rule Palmyra. Zenobia is not happy, but she is a remarkable young woman, with great hunting skill, admired by those around her.

Paul, in his grief, goes on to become a successful business man. He never re-marries, although he has those who love him. In a dramatic scene, he becomes a Christian. He advances quickly and becomes the bishop of Antioch, Syria. Zenobia, in the meantime, becomes the Queen of Palmyra, after the death of her husband. She protects Paul from his enemies. The two still love one another. In the end, when Zenobia, who leads a powerful army, has challenged the Roman Caesar, she is besieged in Palmyra. Paul cannot stay away. He breaks through the siege with the help of others to see the one he loves. He is a Christian, and Zenobia respects that. She tries to break through the Roman siege and make her way to the Euphrates, where she can escape to persuade the Persians to attack the Roman army and break the siege. Paul decides to go with her. They successfully escape through the Roman lines, but are finally captured at the banks of the Euphrates. Paul dies in her arms, having defended her.