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Lion's Blood

(Lion's Blood #1)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  809 ratings  ·  89 reviews
In the year 1863, a primitive village is raided, the men killed, and the women and children captured. The survivors find themselves chained in the dark, filthy hold of a ship crossing the ocean to the New World, where they are sold into slavery. The powerful master of a vast Southern plantation purchases the 11-year-old Irish lad Aidan O'Dere. Yes, you read that right--in ...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published February 13th 2002 by Mysterious Press
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  809 ratings  ·  89 reviews

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Tananarive Due
May 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is by my wonderful husband, Steven Barnes. A must-read alternate history!
Jan 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
Lion's Blood is perhaps the best book about slavery and race in America I have read, told in an alternate world where Europe is the failed continent and Africa is dominant. That Steven's Barnes is an African American makes the scenes of the "middle passage" all the more powerful.
In the very brief overview of the slave trade I was taught as school, one fact was always mentioned. African slaves were captured and sold to whites by Africans. Somehow this made the slave trade not just the European's
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I read through page 282 (almost halfway), but it seems fitting to throw out a bad book with the end of 2020. Out with the old and lousy, in with the new and by-god-I-hope-it’s-better!

This book has a really interesting premise, which is that Africans colonized the Americas and captured Europeans for their slaves. It’s a race-reversed slave novel, and reversing demographics in stories is an interesting exercise that brings readers face-to-face with our own prejudices. So I do appreciate the book f
Aug 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
A well written and occasionally thought provoking alternate history. In "Lion's Blood," Alexander the Great did not die in his 30's, but rather went on to found a dynasty passed down to his two African sons. Egypt remained the center of civilization, and it was Africans who colonized the new world, bringing Islam as the dominant religion - and Europeans as slaves. The protagonist, Aidan, is kidnapped by slavers from his home in Ireland when not quite a teenager, and eventually becomes companion ...more
I just couldn’t put this book down. A North America colonized by Africans not Europeans! A society where Africans are the masters and Europeans the slaves and where Africa is the developed world! A well written and powerful tale of slavery set in an alternative history. A great read.
Mocha Girl
Oct 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What if America had been colonialized by people of African descent? What if the Mayan Empire would have flourished? What if Europeans were enslaved by the Africans? What if Islam was the dominant religion of the world’s superpowers? All of these possibilities are realities in Steven Barnes’ epic classic, Lion’s Blood. The author took a lot of time to build this alternate reality in which African Americans of Muslim decent rule America and the enemy are the Aztecs. This artificial world which hou ...more
What an incredible novel. What an incredible premise! This book takes place in 1863 North America -- only it is not the USA. In the world 0f Lion's Blood, the two African nations of Egypt and Abyssinia (Ethiopia) are the world powers, and Islam is the religion of the cultured and powerful. Europe is a dark, tribal place used as a source of slaves for New World plantations, and Christianity is a misguided religion of the backwards and simple. White slavers never killed Native Americans, the Spani ...more
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
I read this in college and it made me so violently angry I actually threw it. It's a cool idea and I really wanted to like it, but history just does not bend that way. I don't mean that it's not conceivable that the civilizations of the Islamic world could have been the colonial powers of the Americas, or that they could have taken slaves; lots of cultures throughout history have. I became increasingly frustrated as the book went on that the author wants an alternate universe where everything ha ...more
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book was everything!

Admit it. You have often wondered what course world history would have taken if Africans had Enslaved Europeans while they explored the New World. Would they treat them more humanely than chattel? Would the Americas have a different development? Would emancipation accompany a civil war? What religions would take hold across the Atlantic? Steven Barnes takes out some of the guest work. It takes a full 459 pages to go from the Shores of Eerie to manumission in the New Worl
Sun Goddess Moon Witch
The plot sounded amazing but the execution fell flat. Very boring. Did not finish and probably will not pick up again.
The Book Gawdess
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Imagine a world in which Egypt was the superpower of the world. Where, instead of white masters and black slaves, it was the other way around. In Lion’s Blood, Steven Barnes writes about such a world.

This book is based on a white slave, Aidan, and his journey throughout life. I was first introduced to him as a young boy fishing with his father in the beautiful river, the Lady, in Eire, where him and his family lived. In the middle of the night, Viking warriors with guns raided the village, killi
Feb 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: didnt-finish
This is a book that, had I read it 10 years ago, I would have found enthralling. It's alternate history- what would have happened if Alexander the Great had lived, set his capitol in Alexandria, and the epicenter of world power had remained African? What if Islam became the dominant religion and grew even further across the world?

We are introduced to this world in an alternate 19th century. Aidan, a young Irish boy, is captured as a slave, along with his mother and sister. Ireland is in the midd
Allan Dyen-Shapiro
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A good alternative history, for me, rests on the verisimilitude of the world building; a good novel, for me, more often than not, rests on the depth of the characters. This book did both well. Sure, in flipping white for black, Irish slave for African Muslim slaveholder, some of the choices for plot points would be obvious. But some weren't. There was an especially violent scene that interjected elements of horror that I found surprising, but what was slavery if not horror? (Note, I avoided a sp ...more
251216: takes a few pages to get going. long. world-building. premise of althistory always engages, the world depicted, peoples, societies, religions, all gently integrated and portrayed in simple modern psychological realism, that is, like any other usual american literature. easy read even though distracted for a bit. compared in thought this with Robinson's Years of Rice and Salt: https:, which is evenly ambitious but africa is rarely mentioned, as her ...more
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This alternate history rings true because of the obvious solid research done by the author. I didn’t doubt it even before reading the notes at the end. Not predictable, totally could have happened with a twists of events in our history. The last third of the book are especially riveting.
The premise is far and away the most interesting thing about this book -- basically, it's a racial inversion of the colonization of America and rise of slavery. Instead of European whites, it's Islamic Africans who conquer the new world and establish plantations with white slaves. The story is primarily told though an Irish boy taken by Viking slavers and sold in the markets of New Djibouti (instead of New Orleans), and the younger son of the ruler of a vast plantation who bought him. Naturally, ...more
May 04, 2011 rated it liked it
I enjoyed both "Lion's Blood" and "Zulu Heart." They reminded me of "Gone with the Wind" in that the story is full of vivid, soapy details, to the point of tedium at times, but the plot, setting, and characters are consistent and true to themselves. Sometimes I rolled my eyes at the thesaurus-enriched vocabulary, but at heart, Barnes' duo is a fascinating, worthwhile, chewy read. This is classified as science fiction, but it reads like historical fiction. The only twist is that in Barnes' world, ...more
Nov 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Monique by: Janet
Shelves: blackathon, fiction
I don't know what to say about this book. There were just so many good things about it. I don't have one negative to say. I

The character were well done. I cared about what happened to all the main characters, even if I did not like their role in the story. I wanted to know what happened to them. The two main characters Aiden (the white slave) and Kai (the black master) were very believable for the time period that the story took place in. Barnes developed the characters (all of them) nicely and
I really liked the premise of this book: an alternate New World in which "Bilalistan" was discovered and settled by mostly-Muslim black men, who ran their plantations with white slaves captured from northern Europe, England, and Ireland. But what I was hoping for was a story involving the native cultures of the New World in this new context - my hopes were raised by the map at the front showing "The Nations" covering most of the west of the continent, with "Azteca" to the south, and a bit of the ...more
Elisa Berry
Jun 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: alt. fiction, american lit. fans
Recommended to Elisa by: Octavia E. Butler
I found this book heartbreaking, brilliant, devastating. True American literature. Barnes' style is character driven making it highly readable, his world is well researched and instead of simply writing a new reality his tale consistently evokes our own world, which caused me to ponder the unfortunate resultants of power and our legacy of terror in creating this New World. There is also much to gain for our own time; the conquerors of America (Bilalistan here) being North African Muslims. With m ...more
Aug 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Pilouetta by: elisa
i was fascinated with barnes' premise - what if north africa defeated the romans and became the conquering empire of europe and the new world, becoming plantation lords and slave owners? crafting a story of african/arab superiority - the new world is muslim, the language is arabic and irish & german infidels are bonded in chattel slavery. within this world is a story of a patriarch, his family and their customs. barnes has excellently researched ancient spirituality (sufism), combat/warfare (aga ...more
Lion's Blood has been a top favourite since 2002. I look forward to reading it for a third or sixth time and coming away with something new. It's a beautiful, but sometimes painful, story that's wonderfully written. It's the only book I've ever ordered in advance, and it was more than worth the 6 month wait.

Lion's Blood is a fascinating alternate history in which Islamic Africa is in power and Caucasians, mainly the Irish, are enslaved. After being sold, Aidan becomes unlikely friends with Kai,
Feb 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Beautiful prose but marred by two things: a very male view of life and the inclusion of cliques. Examples: the women are fought over or used as chattel or bargaining agents in marriages but as a reader I never felt a connection to any of the women, their characters were simply not sufficiently developed. The cliques included the white slaves joking that if the black slave owners could be white for just one night, they would not want to be black again. That is a very old joke told in reverse in t ...more
Dec 17, 2007 rated it really liked it
If anyone at Antioch wonders why my paperwork was almost late and I seemed occaisionally unprepared, it was because after every day's required activities, I just to read more.

Great book--the kind that has a landmine every page but Barnes pulled it off.

Tananarive spoke of their courtship and marriage, as well as his career, and In'shalla (the original title until 9/11 changed the marketing), he'll have some serious success.
Dawn Livingston
I give up. I read some of the reviews so I knew the book was generally well regarded and I tried to read it but... just can't get into it. Once you get past the idea that the world has been flipped around and blacks enslaved whites and rule most of what never became the US it lost it's appeal. The idea of a kid having to fight back from adversity is not new. It just didn't offer anything more than an interesting concept. ...more
Jan 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
This is why I generally don't read sci-fi. Even though it's an interesting concept for a novel, the writing is unsatisfying. If I cared more, I'd type in a passage from this, then a few from James Joyce, Salman Rushdie, Flannery O'Connor... with so much good writing in the world, why read this stuff?

PS: They need a "I stopped reading this" tag. :-)
Terah Edun
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and this series without reservations. It was the first, and perhaps best, example that I've seen of alternative history fiction which has Africa and Asia taking the front seat in a American setting. That said - past Zulu Heart it feels like Mr. Barnes abandoned this series with no explanation. It's very upsetting because the books are so good! ...more
Lady Makaveli
A great book... What if slavery had been turned around? Would whites still be saying to get over it? I doubt it. This book shows the moral under these circumstances and the difference between European slave 'masters' and what easily could have been Black men. Interesting to think about. And before anyone says blacks should get over it, they def. should read this book. ...more
Feb 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Alternative history of what if Africans had been the ones to colonize the US and had enslaved Europeans. Sometimes, to get a really good look at something you have to turn it inside out and that is exactly what Steven Barnes did in the brilliant piece of fiction.
Tim Childree
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing reimagining of America (and American slavery). Well worth the read, difficult though that read may be. In flipping the slavers and the enslaved, Barnes creates an unflinching look at the crimes of our past that maybe white folks might actually be willing to read.
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What's the Name o...: blacks rule the world/whites are the slaves [s] 5 58 Feb 17, 2013 06:43PM  

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Steven Barnes (born March 1, 1952, Los Angeles, California) is an African American science fiction writer, lecturer, creative consultant, and human performance technician. He has written several episodes of The Outer Limits and Baywatch, as well as the Stargate SG-1 episode "Brief Candle" and the Andromeda episode "The Sum of its Parts". Barnes' first published piece of fiction, the novelette The ...more

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Lion's Blood (2 books)
  • Zulu Heart (Lion's Blood, #2)

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