All right everyone, today I would like to introduce you to a lesser known novel that I read for my ENG 405 class my junior year. It’s called Lion’s Blood by Steven Barnes and it’s an alternative history novel. Now, we all know how much I love historical fiction, but this is my first experience with alternative history and I was blown away.
The alternate history that Lion’s Blood provides is the idea that Africa was the cultural center of the world during its most critical stages in terms of social development instead of Europe. The advanced Africans captured and enslaved the tribal Europeans. So it’s not really a fantasy novel, but Steven Barnes had to build an entirely different world from scratch– a parallel universe– and definitely did just as much work as a fantasy author would have. I suppose you could classify this as Sci-Fi, and if so, this is about the only Sci-Fi book review you will get from me. Normally I do not enjoy Sci-Fi at all, but this story is really neat and too great to pass up.
In this parallel universe, the events of Lion’s Blood takes place in what we know as 1800s America, more specifically the south. Immigrants from Africa take their European slaves there to work in the fields. And even though it’s in a parallel universe, the concept of slavery is almost identical to what studied in our history books.
The story follows the lives of two boys: Kai, the Black son of a wealthy plantation owner and Aidan, his Irish-born slave. The two grow up together and are friends for the most part, though the slave/master dynamic frequently comes between them as they are reminded of their places in society. And of course, the thing that ultimately breaks up their friendship is a woman. Which seems like a bit of a cliche, but it really works here and it’s soooo juicy. I love a good love triangle.
Well I’m going to stop there so I don’t spoil anything, but trust me, you have to read this. It’s fantastic.