“Lion’s Blood” by Steven Barnes (Aspect Books, 2003)

Lion's Blood

Consider this for a moment: what if the crusades never happened, and the Muslim world of ancient history triumphed over the west, establishing a dominant civilization that lasted into the nineteenth century, and this Muslim world was then the one to discover the New World and settle there?

Such is the setting for Steven Barnes’ Lion’s Blood, where Islam controls the New World, where, like real history, slavery is a way of life; except the roles have been reversed: white people are now slaves, while black people are the great land holders.

Barnes does an amazing job in fabricating this alternate history, sticking true to what historical facts he can with Islam and Africa, as well as the Celts which are still going strong.  Lion’s Blood is a novel of the quest by a white man for freedom, while a black man who is the son of a great ruler aids him and learns what it is to be an heir to so much, and how important freedom is.  This bond leads to a necessary uniting in a great war against the Aztecs of the south.

Lion’s Blood is a wonderful alternate history novel of slavery, as well as on what a different world this could be, if history had only been different.  While the possibilities are endless, this is one that, after reading Lion’s Blood, could have been quite possible.

Originally published on May 12th, 2003.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.