"To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex.”

Watson uses these first lines of the story to introduce the main focus, a woman whom Holmes regards as the finest woman he has ever met. From the first sentences, Watson builds Adler up and borderline mythologizes her based on Holmes’s fascination. The narrator begins to create anticipation about what could be so special about this woman that a man like Holmes holds her in such high regard. Although the Bohemian king’s case features significantly, the story’s true mystery lies in Holmes’s relationship with Adler, and how he comes to be so enamored with her.

"What a woman—oh, what a woman!” cried the King of Bohemia…“Did I not tell you how quick and resolute she was? Would she not have made an admirable queen? Is it not a pity that she was not on my level?”

“From what I have seen of the lady she seems indeed to be on a very different level to your Majesty,” said Holmes coldly."

At the end of the story, the King reveals he does in fact see the quality of Adler's mind, but he doesn't value her enough to go against tradition. Instead, the King prizes the political power a woman with a well-known family name can bring him, while Holmes values intelligence more than anything. This exchange between the two men shows that in the King's view, Adler is not good enough to serve as his queen, while in Holmes's view, she is too good to be with the King.