The tyrannical King Ismail resides over the palace of Meknes. Through the sweltering heat of the palace streets, Nus Nus is his slave. He is circumsized, of course, and as eunuh fights his emotions.
Meanwhile, young, fair Alys Swann is captured during her crossing to England, where she is due to be wed. Sold into Ismail’s harem, she is forced to choose: renounce her faith and become subject to the King or die.
Ismail ibn Sharif was the second ruler of the Moroccan Alaouite dynasty. He is also known in his native country as the “Warrior King”. Ismaïl is also known as a fearsome ruler and used at least 25,000 slaves for the construction of his capital (also mentioned in the book). His Christian slaves were often used as bargaining counters with the European powers, ransoming them back for inflated sums or for rich gifts. Most of his slaves were obtained by Barbary pirates in raids on Western Europe.