Excerpt from Lion's Blood by Steven Barnes, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Lion's Blood

A Novel of Slavery and Freedom in an Alterative America

by Steven Barnes

Lion's Blood by Steven Barnes
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2002, 528 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2003, 608 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE
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.
MATTHEW 7:12

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 day without tiring, best fisherman and fighter in the village bearing Aidan's great-grandfather's name. Father and son were sculpted from the same clay: blazing golden hair, crystal blue eyes, clean angled profiles. His father stood a head and a half taller and twice as broad across the shoulders, all of it good useful muscle and well-proportioned bone.

The sun was a molten eye, gazing down from the heavens without malice or mercy, unfettered by clouds. It baked against Aidan's skin. In a few minutes he would dip beneath the Lady's waves again, seeking the shelter of her embrace.

Mahon lifted his flute to his lips and coaxed it softly, gently, as if afraid of scaring away the fish. His eyes glowed with humor.

"What have you, boyo?" his father asked, taking his pipe from his lips. Aidan leaned farther out, pressing his thin arms against the coracle's rim. He peered more carefully now, straining to see through the chop. "Something shining in the water, Da."

The Lute River, usually referred to as the Lady, was clear as glass here. Upstream a bit, clouds of silt from an inland mudslide darkened her depths. Here, fed by a thousand eastern tributaries, the waters had healed themselves, as if loathing the idea of gifting the distant ocean with less than her best. The Lady's blue ribbon had fed and nurtured the O'Deres for three hundred years.

Mahon gazed up at the sky, shielding his eyes with one broad hand. "Well, it's a hot one. Maybe time for another dip?" Aidan needed no further encouragement. He slipped off his rough wool shirt and clambered over the side, careful not to tip the boat.

The water parted to receive him then closed over his head, sealing away the music of air and bird and flute, replacing them with the Lady's eternal rushing murmur. She was cool and bracing.

Aidan was a strong swimmer—half eel and half boy, his mother claimed—and oriented himself quickly in the water. Avoiding the nets was easy if you kept your eyes open. It would be humiliating to be caught in them; his father might be forced to draw him up and free him by knife, possibly endangering the day's catch.

This didn't happen. It was the work of moments to locate the source of the glittering he had glimpsed from above.

Aidan's heart quickened as his hands closed around his prize. For a moment he floated there, suspended like some strange river creature, the Lady's strong arms tugging at him, his bare feet clinging to a rock for ballast.

The object that had caught his attention was a knife. Not just any knife, though. Not some fisherman's blade tumbled overboard, but something wholly alien to his experience.

It was gold, wreathed with gems about its handle, its two-hand length of blade as gently curved as a shark's tooth. Young Aidan found it so beautiful that he almost forgot the need for breath.

Copyright 2002 by Steven Barnes

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Castle of Water
    Castle of Water
    by Dane Huckelbridge
    When a whopping 24 out of 27 readers give a book 4 or 5 stars, you know you have a winner on your ...
  • Book Jacket: Havana
    Havana
    by Mark Kurlansky
    History with flavor...culture with spice...language with gusto...it would be hard to find a better ...
  • Book Jacket: Temporary People
    Temporary People
    by Deepak Unnikrishnan
    In this powerful and innovative collection of 28 short stories, Deepak Unnikrishnan presents a ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    If We Were Villains
    by M. L. Rio

    An intelligent and captivating story of the enduring power and passion of words.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Manderley Forever
    by Tatiana de Rosnay

    Bestselling author Tatiana de Rosnay pays homage to Daphne du Maurier.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

When you are growing up there are two institutional places that affect you most powerfully: the church, which ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -