Set in 1912 Morocco, this story, first in the Red Hand Adventures series, sees a group of children kidnapped, sold into slavery, and forced to fight for survival and freedom. Tariq, an orphan from Tangier; Aseem, sold by his father to settle a debt; and Fez, whose entire tribe was wiped out, are destined for life as camel jockeys, a career with a high mortality rate. An English girl named Margaret, separated from her family after a pirate attack, faces life in a harem. The four must find a way to escape the cruel Caid Ali Tamzali before it's too late. As their tales unfold, they intertwine with several other story threads, casting a glimpse of a much larger picture involving a growing rebellion against the vicious warlords of the region. O'Neill has an eye for detail, atmosphere, and action, but the frequent perspective shifts between the sprawling cast, and the numerous diversions to explain characters' back stories tend to dilute the impact. Nevertheless, this is a rousing period piece that ends on a cliffhanger (a sequel, Wrath of the Caid, is also available). Ages 12–up.