The Steel Seraglio

by Mike Carey, Linda Carey & Louise Carey

The sultan Bokhari Al-Bokhari of Bessa has 365 concubines—until a violent coup puts the city in the hands of the religious zealot Hakkim Mehdad. Hakkim has no use for the pleasures of the flesh: he condemns the women first to exile and then to death. Cast into the desert, the concubines must rely on themselves and each other to escape from the new sultan’s fanatical pursuit. But their goals go beyond mere survival: with the aid of the champions who emerge from among them, they intend to topple the usurper and retake Bessa from the repressive power that now controls it. The assassin, Zuleika, whose hands are weapons. The seer, Rem, whose tears are ink. The wise Gursoon, who was the dead sultan’s canniest advisor. The camel-thief, Anwar Das, who offers his lying tongue to the concubines’ cause. Together, they must forge the women of the harem into an army, a seraglio of steel, and use it to conquer a city. But even if they succeed, their troubles will just be beginning—because their most dangerous enemy is within their own number . . . .

Reviews of The Steel Seraglio:

The Careys nest smaller tales within the larger story and often jump around in time; it’s a good approach, backed by fast pacing and great characters . . . a thrilling tale.
The Steel Seraglio brings its alternate world of struggle, politics and magic very much to life, transcending the more labored construct of symbol and metaphor in a fairy tale or fable retold only to make some kind of point.
—Locus
With remarkable elegance, the Careys have enriched meta-fictional allegory into furious pop entertainment—full of sex, passion, violence, and magic. The Steel Seraglio is razor-sharp, cutting straight through the bullshit of bigotry to tell a fun, resonant story
The Steel Seraglio is not a work of feminist or utopian theory. Nor is it a historical fantasy, a romance, a thriller, a poem, an allegory, or an epic. Rather, somehow, it is all of these things, mixed with a handful of gnomic utterances, a generous splash of the comic, and permeated by a deep understanding of what it means to weave a fairytale through with vision, to tell stories as a way of making meaning and making change, and to let those stories hang and fall . . .
The Steel Seraglio is a masterful, engaging and utterly fascinating story by three wonderful writers. One can only hope they will collaborate again, as this project has proven how well they work together. The reader is really the winner here.
I haven’t read a book as unique as The Steel Seraglio in a very long time. It stands out on a bookshelf as furious, quick-paced and a great story all in one.
If you combined the Arabian Nights and the Canterbury Tales, shook them with a pinch of magic in a djinni bottle, you would come close to the depth and breadth and breathlessness of [The Steel Seraglio].
The Steel Seraglio was a pageturner, and all the more delightful for its setting and depth of characterization. This was the first book in a while that I couldn’t stop thinking about once I put it down to return to my work . . .
The main story is beautifully realized, intelligent, witty, evocative of the parched heat of the desert and the olfactory indulgence of the spice markets. It lives and breathes.
. . . [The Steel Seraglio] is downright enchanting . . .

Other Reviews

goodreads 4.19/5 stars more...

Author Info

Mike Carey has written extensively in the comics field, where his credits include Lucifer, Hellblazer, X-Men and The Unwritten (nominated for both the Eisner and Hugo Awards). He is also the author of the Felix Castor novels, and of the X-Men Destiny console game for Activision. He is currently writing a movie screenplay, Silent War, for Slingshot Studios and Intrepid Pictures.

Linda, writing as A.J. Lake, authored the Darkest Age fantasy trilogy. She fas also written for TV, most notably for the German fantasy animation series Meadowlands.

Louise Carey wrote The Diary of a London Schoolgirl for the website of the London Metropolitan Archive. She also co-wrote the graphic novel Confessions of a Blabbermouth with Mike Carey.