The Peculiar Institution: The Depiction of Slavery in Steven Barnes’s Lion’s Blood and Zulu Heart
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Steven Barnes’s Lion’s Blood (2002) and its sequel Zulu Heart (2003) combine Africa, Islam and Muslims to show positive and negative sides of what would have happened if whites were the enslaved and blacks were the slave owners in an alternative North America, a divided country called Bilalstan tenuously ruled by African Muslims, Zulus, Arabs, Aztecs, Vikings and Indians. Barnes two central characters, one a Muslim slave owner, Kai ibn Rashid and one an Irish slave boy, Aidan O’Dere who through the development of their friendship, challenge the system of slavery. Subplots include romance, political intrigue, and Sufi mysticism. Philosophical discussions on martial arts, religion, family and power are interwoven throughout these stories.
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