Generations ago, ships from Egypt and Ethiopia sailed west to the New World, bearing African colonists and savage European slaves. But the settlers in the proud young land of Bilalistan are not free from the conflicts of the motherland...
Multiple award-nominee Steven Barnes returns to the brilliantly envisioned world of his acclaimed novel Lion's Blood--in which Carthage destroyed Rome and all the complexities and wonders of African civilization have flourished, dominant and unchallenged. Depicting profound evocations of African traditions and Irish-European cultures, Barnes presents a unique, insightful epic of American speculative fiction...
The year is 1294--or, to Christians, 1877. Egypt's Pharaoh threatens war against Ethiopia's Empress and plans to embroil the New World in his cause. While the Northern colonists, under the command of the Caliph, are subjects of the Pharaoh, Southern revolutionaries are loyal to the Empress.
Caught in the center of the storm is Kai ibn Rashid, married to the Empress's niece and lord of a vast Southern estate. A senator who only wants peace, Kai finds himself opposed to the Pharaoh's wara position that may cost him dearly as assassins target his family. Meanwhile, the New World's other major power, the unpredictable Zulu nation, has pressed Kai to accept their princess, the exquisite niece of Shaka Zulu, as his second wife. Tantalized by her beauty, Kai also fears that the princess is a spy with lethal plans.
Now in desperate need of help, Kai summons a childhood friend, the freed slave Aidan O'Dere, to go on a deadly mission. Aidan's reward is information to save his long-lost sister, Nessa, and safe passage home. Yet to succeed, Aidan must willingly submit himself to the greatest degradation he has ever known--being forced to take up once more the cruel yoke of slavery.
With war looming and betrayal threatening on every side, failure will mean execution for Kai and Aidan. But will success cost even more? For by challenging the will of the Pharaoh, Kai could be signing his family's death warrants. And by aiding the South, Aidan could be keeping millions of whites in bondage.
Songhai Islands, south of New Djibouti
8 Ramadan a.h. 1294
(Sunday, September 16, 1877)
The day had been glorious. The southern sun gilded the sparse clouds as they frolicked in a fair wind. It was a time of slow delicious sweltering. Now, at last, the day drew to a close. The past seventy-two hours had provided recreation and renewal for the family of Bilalistan's youngest Wakil, Kai of Dar Kush. For those precious hours, duty no longer deviled him.
For now, Kai could release the tension from body and mind, allowing both to dwell only in the fathomless crystal blue of the waters, hands and spirit stretching out for the rainbow of tropical fish fluttering just beyond reach.
He dove deep, suspended as if by the hand of an invisible djinn, hovering above the twisted wreck of a triple-master that had foundered fifty years before his birth. That there was another ship, far more recently scuttled, in the waters east of the islands, he knew too well. The ...
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