From visionary writer Steven Barnes comes an astonishing, compelling alternate history of a world where North Africans conquered Rome and black men settled the Americas...
In ancient times, Socrates fled Athens for the courts of Egypt, setting in motion events that led to Carthage destroying Rome. A millennium later, by the grace of Allah, Muhammad received the Qur'an. And the Prophet's apostle Bilal was granted a vision that Islam's destiny lay far across the western ocean, in a New World...
One of the nation's premier African-American science fiction writers, multiple-award nominee Steven Barnes here presents a passionate and richly imagined epic of courage, survival, and revelation on a slave plantation in the old South...the African-ruled South.
The year is 1279...or, to those who worship the son of Mary, 1863. Bordered by fierce Azteca to the south, the red men's nations of the far west, and the Viking empire in the north, Bilalistan is a vast, rich land adorned with inspiring mosques, Zulu kraals, and glorious Moorish castles. Its grand estates are worked by savage Franks and Gauls captured from darkest Europe.
A primitive child from Eire, little Aidan O'Dere knows nothing of the world on the day his village is raided. His father is murdered while Aidan, his mother, and his sister are chained in the dark, diseased hold of a slave ship bound for the New World of Bilalistan. There the boy is sold to Dar Kush, the estate of the Wakil Abu Ali.
The Wakil is notorious for his lenient handling of his whites, even letting them keep their tribal names and pagan beliefs. And when Aidan becomes personal servant to the Wakil's mischievous yet brilliant younger son, Kai, friendship is allowed to blossom between the two youthsa bond that seems to eclipse their status as master and slave. But the tranquillity of Dar Kush hides a world where slave families are torn apart to pay bets, whipping and rape are daily fare, and runaways are slaughtered by vicious animals. And behind their happy comportment, the whites are seething with hatred.
When war suddenly sweeps over the entire continent, the Aztecs, Zulus, Arabs, and whites are engulfed in carnage. And in the terrible darkness of the battlefield, Kai and Aidan will learn that blood is neither black nor white...
15 Shawwal 1279 Higira
(April 4, 1863 Anno Domini)
Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the Prophets.
Do unto all men as you would wish to have done unto you; and reject for others what you would reject for yourselves.
THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD
SPRING'S FIRST DAY WAS A WARM SWEET SONG, a time of companionable silences and comfortably shared labor in Mahon O'Dere's coracle. The boat's round woven sides bobbed gently in the Lady's arms. Aidan O'Dere, eleven years old and the crannog's best swimmer, leaned against the coracle's side, reveling in the river's timeless flow. He studied the dark darting shadows of the fish as if they held the secrets of the universe, his mind alternately racing and utterly still.
Just now, his thoughts were of his father, Mahon, a lean, strong man weathered brown by sun and wind. He pulled the nets all...
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