Cover image for Lion's blood : a novel of slavery and freedom in an alternate America
Lion's blood : a novel of slavery and freedom in an alternate America
Barnes, Steven.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Aspect/Warner Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
461 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Central Library

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Author Notes

He is the author of 15 novels & as many teleplays has been nominated for Hugo & Cable Ace Awards. He lives in Longview, Washington, with his novelist wife Tananarive Due & his daughter Nicki.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Barnes' big book is set in an alternate nineteenth century, shaped by the crucial facts that, long before, Alexander of Macedon became pharaoh of Egypt, and a Graeco-Egyptian alliance defeated Rome. Thereafter Europe never became civilized, the Western Hemisphere was settled from Africa, and in 1863 a young Celtic boy sees his father slaughtered, and he and the rest of his family are sold into slavery in Bilalistan, across the western ocean. Characterizations are excellent, as is the skillful realization of rebellion and war in Bilalistan. Barnes builds a world full of convincing details, far beyond a simple reversal of the roles of master and slave. The assumption that Islam would have developed almost exactly as it has without the influence of Christianity and northern European civilization, however, is pushing the limits of plausibility as hard as any alternate-history novel ever has. Still, Barnes' most ambitious work to date deserves reading, regardless of how well its depiction of a triumphant Islam goes over just now. --Roland Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

"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. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved