The creation of this alternative history world could do more for race relations than most politicians, ministers or teachers ever dreamed, if we could only get everyone to read it. It is the type of work which erects a premise so compelling that it would stand on its own without great complex characters or exciting storylines. Mr. Barnes is a competent writer, however, so cardboard characters are avoided and the storylines are never predictable.
Zulu Heart is the second book. You could read it first and enjoy it, but I guarantee you will want to go back and read the first one. Lion’s Blood introduces this world where the great African civilizations have colonized our planet and the European cultures are suppressed, enslaved and degraded. It takes some getting used to. Roughly, the time approximates our American Civil War period: tensions of slavery, control of the new world continent, factions of populations with differing religions, and cultures simmering to produce a calamitous conflict. The fun of alternative history is to compare the fiction with historical facts – and theory. Zulu Heart contains a water battle in which an ironclad makes the difference, gladiator style fighting, female mercenaries, exotic poisons and religious fanatics. The themes of human rights are explored the way they have arisen in our own time, by the interaction of people with each other. It is sometimes painful to consider things we take for granted turned on their head, but in these books it is never dull, and you are always entertained.