“A confident One Thousand and One Nights for our present . . . Furious pop entertainment—full of sex, passion, violence, and magic.” —Slant magazine
This is the story of the legendary City of Women, told through the tales of those who founded it, championed it, and made it flourish. When the city of Bessa undergoes a violent coup, its lazy, laissez-faire ruler, Bokhari Al-Bokhari, is replaced by the religious zealot Hakkim Mehdad. With little use for the pleasures of the flesh, Hakkim sends his predecessor’s 365 concubines to a neighboring sultan as a gift.
But when the new sultan discovers the concubines are harboring Al-Bokhari’s youngest son—a child who might grow up to challenge his rule—he repents of his mercy and sends his soldiers to slaughter the seraglio down to the last woman and child. What he doesn’t count on is a concubine trained in the art of murder—or the courage and fortitude of the women who will rise up with her to forge their own city out of the unforgiving desert.
It’s an undertaking beset with challenges: hunger and thirst, Hakkim’s relentless hate, and the struggle to make a place for themselves in a world determined to underestimate and undermine them. Through a mosaic of voices and tales, we learn of the women’s miraculous rise, their time of prosperity—and how they carried with them the seed of their own destruction.
“A thrilling tale.” —Publishers Weekly
“A masterful, engaging and utterly fascinating story by three wonderful writers.” —SFRevu.com
“The Steel Seraglio brings its alternate world of struggle, politics and magic very much to life.” —Locus