In this alternate world where the center of culture and power shifted to Africa, white slaves work for black masters. Set in the mid nineteenth century in a primarily Islamic America, LION’S BLOOD tells of a bond between Kai, son of a powerful leader and plantation owner, and Aidan, brought from the British Isles by slave traders to work on the planation. As both grow to manhood, conflicts arise, and both are caught up in a war with invading Aztecs to the South. Kai’s conflicted feelings and Aidan’s longing for freedom are part of the broad canvas in this fascinating story of an alternate America.
“LION’S BLOOD is Barnes’ masterwork as a solo flight.”- Larry Niven
"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. , 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.