LION'S BLOOD: A Novel of Slavery and Freedom in an Alternate America

Steven Barnes, Author . Warner $24.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-446-52668-5

"If you would not fear the lion, you must be a lion yourself," notes an old Swahili proverb, and it's that fearlessness that gives Barnes's moving epic its strength and power. What if the captives on those long ago slave ships had been predominantly white and the slave owners predominantly black and brown? This alternative historical novel dares to dissect the differences and similarities between Muslim and Christian ethics, no easy task in these troubling times. By focusing on two engaging main characters, Irish Christian Aidan O'Dere, unwilling slave, and African Muslim, Kai ibn Jallaleddin ibn Rashid, uneasy master, Barnes manages to achieve extraordinary balance and insight into both worlds with unflinching honesty as these two become friends against the odds. Greedy white Northmen catch and sell into slavery the young O'Dere and his family, who arrive in the New World in 1863 (or 1279 Higira time). But instead of the United States, they encounter a divided Bilalstan, ruled by Zulus, Arabs, Aztecs, Vikings and Indians still unable to choose peace over war. As O'Dere strives to find his way to freedom and Rashid strives to figure out whether freedom is just a dream, their lives connect on a battlefield both metaphorical and physical. Interwoven subplots enhance the vivid characterizations, adding romance, Sufi mysticism and philosophical musings regarding martial arts, religion, family and power. This is a dazzling accomplishment, perfectly timed for Black History Month. Agent, Eleanor Wood.(Feb. 13)

Forecast:Previously known for his collaborative work with Larry Niven (Saturn's Race, etc.) and his SF detective novels (Blood Brothers, etc.), Barnes may generate controversy with this ambitious alternative look at race relations, especially if critics take aspersions attributed to certain characters out of context. Either way, Barnes seems destined to be a major player in the field.

Reviewed on: 01/21/2002
Release date: 02/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 624 pages - 978-0-446-61221-0
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