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.”
This is a book about King David’s relationship with Prince Jonathan, son of Saul, the King of Israel. They met as young men, and their friendship is documented in the Bible. However, was it really just a friendship, or was there something more to their relationship other than what is written?
The Prince’s Psalm is a detailed (I refuse to say fictionalized) story of David and Jonathan as if they were definitely more than friends who are as close or closer than brothers.
There is too much going on for me to give a full summary because I’d be writing forever. I don’t want to rehash everything. Let me quickly say David was a beautiful young man, small of stature, who had dreams of going off to battle alongside his brothers. He was made to stay home because of his size, and because everyone loved him so much, they couldn’t bear for him to be harmed. He learned to play the harp, and his singing voice was beautiful. He ran the family’s farm like a well oiled machine. One day, he was summoned by Jonathan, the son of King Saul, to the court. Saul was…well…going crazy because the prophet Samuel seems to have deserted him. Saul wouldn’t eat. He wouldn’t sleep. He was angry at everyone and violent with everyone as well. Even his wife and children weren’t exempt. Jonathan thought David’s harp playing and singing would soothe Saul. He was right. While at court, Jonathan and David became fast friends. In fact, they spent all of their time together when David wasn’t playing for the King. Eventually Saul recovers, but David remains because Jonathan asks him to, and David wanted to continue to spend time with him. As time passed, their friendship turned into a deeper love. They became sexual with each other, and the made a covenant together. They swore, after King Saul passed, they’d rule Israel together.
After this, there is a long and difficult road for both David and Jonathan. Sometimes, they were happy, a lot of times they were miserable and missed each other as their lives together split apart. Saul becomes convinced David is a traitor after his throne because David becomes a hero to Israel after he slew Goliath. David must leave for his own safety, and Jonathan remains at court, constantly trying to convince Saul to let David come back.
Alright…on to my review. The Prince’s Psalm is biblical, and that means this story comes with lots of sex, violence, and intrigue. Aside from all of that, it’s the love story that comes through here. The bible doesn’t exactly say whether David and Jonathan were lovers. It continually uses the word friendship. What Eric Shaw Quinn has done (brilliantly, I might add) is turn the vague and made it absolute truth. It’s sweeping and epic, and it is just beautiful. The detail is such that I could visualize exactly what was going on, right down to the colors of the tunics the men wore. I’m going to warn you that the book is l-o-n-g. It’s not so much a book as it is an opus. You should prepare yourself going in. I can usually read one to two books a day, and it took me five days to read this one. I wasn’t disappointed, however. To make sure every part of the story is included, this is how it needed to be. There are also a lot of characters. That means a lot of names to remember. The MCs are obvious, of course, as are their families (Well…David had a lot of brothers, but the oldest three are the names I had to really know.), but there were servants, advisors, wives, soldiers, enemies, and priests. Occasionally, I was a bit frustrated and had to go back and read a few sentences over again. Still, as with the length, it wasn’t a bad thing.
The descriptions of David and Jonathan’s relationship were beautiful. It was so nice to read about them playing board and dice games, hunting, fishing, and even a little bit of falconry. It wasn’t as if they were constantly having sex. I mean, well…there is sex, but it’s not graphic. It was also sort of sexy, even without dirty talking, licking, sucking, hard core fucking.
Now, let’s talk about the feelings. The entire spectrum is included here. I laughed. I cringed. I felt butterflies in my stomach, and lord did I cry! In fact, there were lots of wails and sobs. When it was all said and done, I was emotionally exhausted. I felt as if I’d been through the wringer. Once again, though, I have to stress this isn’t a bad thing. It’s only proof that Eric Shaw Quinn has written an emotional powerhouse of a novel. The care he put into The Prince’s Psalm is obvious. In the dedications, he calls it a labor of love. I can feel that love in every chapter and paragraph.
This is an incredible book, and I highly recommend it. It’s written in rather biblical language, but don’t let that deter you. It makes the whole thing feel more genuine. I came away from this with a firm belief that David and Jonathan were passionately in love with each other, and with that I say love is love…king or peasant…gay or straight, and it’s beautiful to behold. I feel very lucky to have been able to read this one.
A review copy of this book was provided by DSP Publications.