QSFer Andrew J. Peters has a new release release that takes inspiration from Near Eastern history and mythology:
Kelemun was bought from his peasant parents to tend the inner sanctum of the house of Aknon, where wealthy men pay mountain sapphires to behold the beautiful servants of the god. Chosen to bring offerings to Caliph, Kelemun captures the fascination of the young prince Praxtor who has never been denied anything his heart desires.
Ja’bar was hired to roughhouse wayward proselytes for the high priest Aknon-Horheb. In Qabbat’lee, it’s good paying work for a Stripeling, a jungle savage in the eyes of the city natives, and if he’s stingy and stays out of trouble, it will buy him a plot of river land.
But the splendor of Qabbat’lee is a mirage disguising a grotesquerie of corruption. When Kelemun and Ja’bar’s threads of fate entwine on a night of chilling betrayal, their only hope for redemption and survival may lie in one another.
From the author: “I wrote The City of Seven Gods as somewhat of an adult companion piece to my young adult Atlantis series The Seventh Pleiade and Banished Sons of Poseidon. It’s not so much magical fantasy as alternative history. Readers will recognize the geography of the world as ancient Egyptian. It’s an imagined story from the time period, and I also drew on languages and religious beliefs from Mesopotamia, Greece, and Africa.”
The principal fantasy element is the existence of a race of men called Stripelings who have “ebony and honey” striped skin. Explains Peters: “Race had significant political and social meanings in the ancient world, as it does today. From the writers of the time, we know that slavery was commonplace, as were prejudicial cultural beliefs. I was interested in exploring that through the character of Ja’bar who is essentially an immigrant in a ‘white’ city. His people call the foreigners Burghuls, because they’re ‘as plain and sticky as lumpy porridge.’ It was important to me to give equal time to Ja’bar’s perspective in order to broaden the way race is viewed in his world.”
The story has queer themes that may as well be provocative to some readers. “I’m curious, and truthfully, a little ansty about how some of the storylines will be received,” Peters says. “Male prostitution is portrayed. That alone isn’t new or shocking. We know some ancient world religions had a tradition of temple prostitution, and it’s hard to imagine that it was not exploitative of young women and men. But it was difficult not to be too heavy-handed about my personal views about sexual exploitation. On the other hand, I didn’t want to eroticize it. Prostitution is one of several ways in which a very small elite maintains wealth and power in the fictional city of Qabbat’lee.”
The City of Seven Gods is the first book in a planned series about a world where religions and civilizations clash, men are bought and sold for a variety of purposes, and common people like Kelemun and Ja’bar have to figure out a way to eke out an existence. The story alternates between the two men’s points-of-view as they negotiate corruptive forces and try to find a safe place for themselves in the world.
Just for QSFers, Andrew is offering a limited number of e-copies for readers who are interested in providing a review. Drop a comment with your e-mail address or contact him at [email protected].
Andrew J. Peters writes fantasy for readers of all ages. His young adult Atlantis series has been highly praised. Banished Sons of Poseidon was a Best of 2015 pick by All Our Worlds Diverse Fantastic Fiction. The Seventh Pleiade garnered an honorable mention in the 2014 Rainbow Book awards. His Werecat series was a finalist in The Romance Reviews’ 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards. This year, he released two series: Poseidon and Cleito and The City of Seven Gods (The Lost Histories, Book One). Andrew writes the monthly column “Dispatches from Hogwarts G.S.A.” for QSF. He lives in New York City with his husband and their cat Chloë.