The City of Silk and Steel by Mike Carey, Linda Carey and Louise Carey is scheduled for publication in March by Gollancz (£14.99).
“Once, in a city known as Bessa, there was a sultan named Bokhari Al-Bokhari, who was thrown down by the zealots of the ascetic Hakkim Mehdad. The sultan, his wives and children were put to the sword, while his 365 concubines were sent to a neighbouring caliph as tribute, Hakkim having no use for the pleasures of the flesh.
But a day after the caravan had departed from Bessa, Hakkim discovered the terrible secret that the concubines had hidden from him. His reaction was swift and cruel. Kill the women of the harem forthwith, along with their children and maidservants. Let not one survive. Their bodies let the desert claim, and their names be fed to silence.
This, then, is the tale – or tales – of how a remarkable group of women fight together to survive both the fury of Hakkim and the rigours of the desert. It is the tale of Zuleika, whose hidden past holds the key to their future, and of Rem, the librarian whose tears are ink. Of the wise Gursoon, who defines the group's conscience, and of the silver-tongued thief, Anwar Das, who knows when to ignore that conscience.
This is the tale of the forging of a rabble of concubines, children, camel-herds and thieves into an army of silk and steel. It is the tale of the redemption and rise of Bessa, fabled City of Women. And it is the tale of an act of kindness that carries the seed of death, and will return to bring darkness and the end of a dream..."
The authors of this Arabian Nights fairy tale are Mike Carey and his wife and daughter.