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The Patriot Army was shaped and strengthened by the desperate circumstances of the Valley Forge winter. This is ...
The Patriot Army was shaped and strengthened by the desperate circumstances of the Valley Forge winter. This is where Curzon the boy becomes Curzon the young man. In addition to the hardships of soldiering, he lives with the fear of discovery, for he is an escaped slave passing for free. And then there is Isabel, who is also at Valley Forge—against her will. She and Curzon have to sort out the tangled threads of their friendship while figuring out what stands between the two of them and true freedom.
Anderson, Laurie Halse (Author)
Oct 2010. 304 p. Atheneum, hardcover, $16.99. (9781416961444).
Anderson follows her searing, multi-award-winning novel Chains (2008) with this well-researched sequel, also set during the Revolutionary War and narrated by a young African American. This time, though, her central character is male, and the heartbreaking drama shifts from Chains’ domestic town houses to graphically described bloody battlefields. After a narrowly successful escape from Manhattan, former slaves Isabel and Curzon separate, and Curzon is once again on the run. He finds necessary food and shelter as a private with the Continental army, and through Curzon’s eyes, Anderson re-creates pivotal historical scenes, including the desperate conditions at Valley Forge. Curzon isn’t as fully realized here as Isabel was in Chains, resulting in a less-cohesive and -compelling whole. Once again, though, Anderson’s detailed story creates a cinematic sense of history while raising crucial questions about racism, the ethics of war, and the hypocrisies that underlie our country’s founding definitions of freedom. Chapter heads excerpted from historical documents and a long appendix that offers research suggestions and separates fact and fiction add further curricular appeal.
— Gillian Engberg
Second in the Seeds of America trilogy, this sequel to the National Book Award finalist Chains is narrated by Curzon, the slave Isabel freed from prison while escaping her own enslavement in 1777 New York City. Curzon immediately explains how he and Isabel lived in New Jersey for a few months, before she ran away with their meager funds in hopes of finding her sister, a quest Curzon refused to support. Months later, Curzon is doing his best to forget Isabel, though the depth of his feelings is made evident in flashbacks of their time together. After Curzon saves the life of Eben, a young rebel soldier, he joins the army and suffers through the winter at Valley Forge; tension mounts when Curzon's former owner arrives. Anderson includes meticulous details about the lives of soldiers and, with just a few words, brings readers deep inside Curzon's experience ("My belly voted louder than my wits"). Her masterful storytelling weaves themes of friendship, politics, love, and liberty into a deeply satisfying tale that will leave readers hungry for the final volume. - PW, September 13, 2010, *STAR
Gr 6-10–This sequel to Chains (S & S, 2008) opens with Curzon, an enslaved teen who was freed from prison by Isabel, recalling his escape and anticipating the future. After an argument with Isabel about where they should go next, the 15-year-old battles the British at Saratoga and winters in Valley Forge with the Patriots. He reveals many details of the conditions endured by the soldiers during the winter of 1777-1778, including the limited food supply, lack of adequate shelter, and tattered clothing. When Curzon and Isabel meet again, they have both been captured and must devise a plan of escape once again. While the Patriots are fighting for the freedom of a country, these young people must fight for their personal freedom. This sequel can be read alone but readers will benefit from reading the first book, which develops the characters and reveals events leading up to the winter at Valley Forge. An appendix clarifies historical facts and real-life characters. A list of colloquial terms used throughout the novel is appended.–Denise Moore, O’Gorman Junior High School, Sioux Falls, SD
-SLJ Oct. 2010
[STAR] Forge [Seeds of America]
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Intermediate, Middle School Atheneum 297 pp.
10/10 978-1-4169-6144-4 $16.99
Chains (rev. 11/08) ended with slave girl Isabel escaping from 1776 New York with fellow slave Curzon, who takes over the narration in this sequel. Only fifteen, he enlists in the Continental Army in late 1777. His experiences as a young runaway slave during the American Revolution differ greatly from Isabel's; though he lives in fear of discovery, he befriends a white soldier boy named Eben and even gains a sense of patriotism and camaraderie serving alongside other soldiers encamped for the winter at Valley Forge. Unfortunate circumstances bring Curzon and Isabel back together, and it is the struggle to mend their friendship and continue their quest for freedom that drives the latter half of the novel. Anderson seamlessly weaves her fictitious characters into history in a cohesive, well-researched narrative about the Revolutionary War that still focuses foremost on developing characters and their interpersonal relationships. Relevant historical quotes at the beginning of each chapter add authenticity, as does Curzon's firsthand account of daily life at Valley Forge; his detailed narration of privations, inequalities, and hard work compellingly conveys the plight of the common soldier. As one man in Curzon's regiment explains, Valley Forge "is a forge for the army; it's testing our qualities. Instead of heat and hammer, our trials are cold and hunger. Question is, what are we made of?" With this riveting sequel, Anderson certainly passes the test. Cynthia K. Ritter
--The Horn Book, Nov/Dec 2010 Issue, *STAR
Anderson, Laurie Halse Forge.
Atheneum, 2010 [304p] (Seeds of America) ISBN 978-1-4169-6144-4 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 7-10
Curzon and Isabel, runaway slaves in Anderson’s Chains (BCCB 11/08), have parted company—she is headed south to find her sister Ruth, and he finds work driving a cart for Patriot soldiers. An impulsive act of battlefield bravery leads to Curzon’s enlistment as a freeman with the 16th Massachusetts Regiment, and he’s now a tentmate with Eban Woodruff, the young man whose life he saved, and John Burns, a sly bigot who waits for an opportunity to drum Curzon out of the army. Personal animosity simmers as the soldiers encamp at Valley Forge for the winter of 1777-8, but Curzon and his comrades cooperate to make the best of dire circumstances. When Burns rises to the rank of sergeant, though, and Curzon’s legal owner, James Bellingham, reclaims his service, Curzon begins to plot yet another escape. His situation is immediately complicated by the appearance of Isabel, who has been recaptured and sold to Bellingham. Bellingham knows Curzon will withhold his labor, so he threatens to punish Isabel, who already wears a locked metal cuff around her neck, for each infraction he may cause. Desperate but unable to plan a foolproof escape, Curzon and Isabel are blessed by chance and the unexpected aid of Curzon’s old comrades at arms with some slim hope of freedom as the novel ends and they march out of Valley Forge, protectively surrounded by decamping troops. The saga that began as Isabel’s tale loses none of its tension as it switches to Curzon’s plight, and the pair’s situation at the novel’s conclusion is precarious enough to suggest—even demand—another volume. Again Anderson crafts her source notes into a reader-friendly Q&A discussion and appends a glossary of eighteenth-century terms. As one of Curzon’s mates observes, “This camp is a forge for the army; it’s testing our qualities. . . . Question is, what are we made of?” For Curzon and Isabel, it’s sorrow, grit, and a passion for freedom. EB
--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November 2010
by Laurie Halse Anderson
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Anderson now continues this work in FORGE, the second book of what will eventually be a trilogy. Here the narrative shifts gears from Isabel to her friend Curzon, a fellow runaway who becomes separated from Isabel but finds safety --- of a sort --- when he enlists as a soldier fighting on the American side during the Revolutionary War. As one of the few black soldiers, he is disrespected --- and worse --- by some of his peers and his officers. With his customary courage, hard work and loyalty, however, Curzon gains the respect and even the friendship of many of his fellow soldiers.
All the young men's fortitude is brutally tested, however, when they are told to report to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, during the winter of 1777 and 1778. As Curzon and his comrades struggle just to survive, Anderson vividly brings to life the horrifying details of life in Valley Forge, unflinchingly documenting the hardships that most high school history books just gloss over. From surviving days without food to digging trenches in frozen ground to trudging through snowdrifts in just a pair of wet, stinking socks, Curzon's story, and that of all the men, will both repulse readers and remind them of the soldiers' remarkable fortitude and bravery.
Besides being a compelling, unfailingly realistic account of the winter at Valley Forge, though, FORGE's story also serves as a powerful metaphor: "This camp is a forge for the army," remarks one character. "It's testing our qualities. Instead of heat and hammer, our trials are cold and hunger. Question is, what are we made of?"
What indeed? Curzon finds himself asking this question and others when his past as a runaway slave starts to catch up with him. By all accounts, he should be freed; he has kept his part of a bargain that he made months earlier. But he doesn't have paperwork showing he's been freed, and if he's revealed as a runaway, hunger and cold will be the least of his problems. One beloved but complicated relationship from his past also resurfaces when he encounters Isabel once more and must deal not only with their shared and separate histories but also with his evolving feelings toward her.
Once again, in FORGE, Laurie Halse Anderson has managed to compose a historical novel that feels both entirely true to its period and completely contemporary. Curzon's voice rings true as that of an 18th-century young man, but its sophisticated narration and storytelling style introduce contemporary perspectives seamlessly in ways that will not only allow readers to reflect on their own times but also to reconsider their understanding of and approach to history. With its extensive historical notes and glossary, FORGE (like CHAINS) would be an ideal classroom companion to more traditional history-book fare, one that readers will likely relish as much for its sensitive storytelling as for its gutsy depictions.
--- Reviewed by Norah Piehl
by Laurie Halse Anderson, *STAR
Forge is the sequel to Chains (2008), but it can be read independently. Anderson has done her research and accurately portrays the horrors of serving in the first Continental Army at Valley Forge. The story within is of slavery in a fledgling nation; the freedom that the founding fathers were fighting for did not extend to their slaves. The hero of the story, Curzon, has already served in the army, but in trying to get away from a cruel master, he is re-enlisted. When his former master reappears, his friends from his squad help him escape, along with Isabel, the heroine of Chains. The book contains an appendix with glossary, further readings, and Q&A about the historical background and primary sources used. Each chapter begins with a quote pertaining to the war or slavery. While the details are accurate, the book is not gratuitously violent. Curzon is an empathetic character to whom most young people will relate. At the end, when Curzon and Isabel escape, the reader can only hope that all will end well in the next book. Laurie Halse Anderson has again written historical fiction at its finest.
--Library Media Connection, Jan/Feb 2011, *STAR
At the end of Chains (2008), Isabel rescues her friend Curzon from Bridewell Prison and rows away from Manhattan in their escape from slavery. Now, in the second of the planned trilogy, Isabel goes her own way, and 15-year-old Curzon takes over as narrator. Passing as free, he joins the Continental Army at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-78, where, against the most desperate of circumstances, he forges a friendship with fellow soldiers. When he is enslaved again and meets up with Isabel, he and she must once again take liberty into their own hands and find a way to escape. Weaving a huge amount of historical detail seamlessly into the story, Anderson creates a vivid setting, believable characters both good and despicable and a clear portrayal of the moral ambiguity of the Revolutionary age. Not only can this sequel stand alone, for many readers it will be one of the best novels they have ever read. A good match with Russell Freedman's Washington at Valley Forge (2008). (appendix, glossary, acknowledgments) (Historical fiction. 10 & up)
Tuesday, October 7, 1777
“BEGIN THE GAME.”
—GENERAL HORATIO GATES’S ORDER TO START THE SECOND BATTLE OF SARATOGA
THE MEMORY OF OUR ESCAPE STILL tormented me nine months later.
It did not matter that I’d found us shelter and work in Jersey or that I’d kept us safe. Isabel was ungrateful, peevish, and vexatious. We argued about going after Ruth, then we fought about it, and finally, in May, she ran away from me, taking all of our money.
I twisted my ear so hard, it was near torn from my head.
No thoughts of Isabel, I reminded myself. Find that blasted road.
I’d been looking for the back road to Albany since dawn on account of my former boss, Trumbull, was a cabbagehead and a cheat. The Patriot army had hired him and his two wagons (one of them driven by myself) to help move supplies up to the mountains near Saratoga. Thousands of British soldiers waited there, preparing to swoop down the Hudson, cut off New England from the other states, and end the rebellion.
Trumbull cared not for beating the British or freeing the country from the King. He cared only for the sound of coins clinking together. With my own eyes, I saw him steal gunpowder and rum and salt from the barrels we hauled. He’d filch anything he could sell for his own profit.
’Twas not his thieving from the army that bothered me. ‘Twas his thieving from me. I’d been working for him for three months and had no coin to show for it. He charged me for the loan of a ragged blanket and for anything else he could think of so he never had to hand over my wages.
The night before, I’d finally stood up to him and demanded my money. He fired me.
Of course, I robbed him. You would have done the very same.
I stole an assortment of spoons and four shoe buckles from his trunk after he fell asleep muddy in drink and snoring loud as a blasting bellows. I put my treasures in the leather bag that held Isabel’s collection of seeds and her blue ribbon (both left behind in her haste to flee from my noxious self). The leather bag went into my empty haversack, which I slipped over my shoulder as I crawled out of Trumbull’s tent.
I had walked for hours in the dark, quite certain that I’d stumble upon the road within moments. The rising sun burned through the fog but did not illuminate any road for me, not even a path well worn by deer or porcupines.
I climbed up a long hill, stopping at the top to retie the twine that held my shoes together. (Should have stolen Trumbull’s boots, too.) I turned in a full circle. Most of the forest had leafed yellow, with a few trees bold-cloaked in scarlet or orange. No road. Had I been in my natural environment—the cobbled streets of Boston or New York—I could have easily found my way by asking a cartman or an oyster seller.
Not so in this forest.
I headed down into a deep ravine, swatting at the hornets that buzzed round my hat. The ravine might lead to the river, and a river was as good as a road, only wetter. Because I was the master of my own mind, I did not allow myself to believe that I might be lost. Nor did I worry about prowling redcoats or rebel soldiers eager to shoot. But the wolves haunted me. They’d dug up the graves of the fellows killed in last month’s battle at Freeman’s Farm and eaten the bodies. They’d eat a living man, too. A skinny lad like myself wouldn’t last a minute if they attacked.
I picked my way through the brush at the bottom of the ravine, keeping my eyes on the ground for any sight of paw prints.
Not possible. I was almost certain that I was well south of the dangerous bit of ground that lay between the two armies.
Heavy boots crashed through the forest. Voices shouted.
An angry hornet hissed past my ear and smacked into the tree trunk behind me with a low thuuump.
I froze. That was no hornet. ‘Twas a musketball that near tore off my head.
The voices grew louder. There was no time to run. I dropped to the ground and hid myself behind a log.
A British redcoat appeared out of a tangle of underbrush a dozen paces ahead of me and scrambled up the far side of the ravine. Three more British soldiers followed close on his heels, hands on their tall hats to keep them from flying off, canteens and cartridge boxes bouncing hard against their backsides.
There was a flash and another Crrr-ack BOOM.
A dozen rebel soldiers appeared, half in hunting shirts, the rest looking like they just stepped away from their plows. Smoke still poured from the barrel of the gun held by a red-haired fellow with an officer’s black ribbon pinned to his hat.
There was a loud shuffling above. A line of redcoats took their position at the edge of the ravine and aimed down at the rebels.
“Present!” the British officer screamed to his men.
“Present!” yelled the American officer. His men brought the butts of their muskets up to their shoulders and sighted down the long barrels, ready to shoot and kill.
I pressed my face into the earth, unable to plan a course of escape. My mind would not be mastered and thought only of the wretched, lying, foul, silly girl who was the cause of everything.
I thought of Isabel and I missed her.
Posted March 24, 2012
I love this book and Chains. They are remarkably thrilling and interesting. I can't wait for Laurie to finish writing "Ashes" the third book in the Chains series. I am going to buy that book as soon as it comes out. I loved Chains and Forge and anyone who loves history, the Revoutionary War, African enslavement novels, or colonial times should buy this book! I would recommend this book to all my friends. After I read Chains I knew that Laurie Halse Anderson was going to be my favorite author!
8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 12, 2011
I love this author and all the work she does to put these books together. Forge was a great sequel to Chanes and i enjoyed reading every word. I cant wait to read what this marvous author has in store for us next in Ashes(sequle to Forge).
7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 12, 2012
Posted May 19, 2013
A great book for young readers
This story continues the adventures of Isabel and Curzon, this time from Curzon's point of view. For some reason, I just didn't connect as much to Curzon as I did to Isabel in the first book. For a large chunk at the beginning of the book I kept wondering what had happened to Isabel! But Curzon himself was wondering the same thing, and he eventually found out. The circumstances that brought them back together seemed a little coincidental to me, but I can see how it was necessary for the storyline.
Anderson clearly did her research as she inserted her characters into real events in history. I love how each chapter began with a historical quote from a primary source, and I appreciated that the characters spoke with authentic dialogue for the time period. Listening to the audiobook version of Forge was interesting because the narrator did an excellent job of portraying a young soldier's experience.
This is a great book for young readers who are want to learn what it might have been like to live during the Revolutionary War. It brings history alive with strong characters and accurate historical details. The only downside of the audiobook is that it doesn't include the appendix that the print version has which helps readers distinguish fact from fiction, find further resources for research, and learn the meaning of the colloquial phrases used in the novel.
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Posted June 9, 2012
Forge is a sequel to Chains but stands alone. It takes place at Valley Forge during the Civil War. Strong characters, fast plot and incredibly vivid setting makes this the best historical novel I've ever read.
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Posted April 11, 2012
Posted March 9, 2012
I really did enjoy this book. It can certainly stand alone but is so much better after reading Chains. As a teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed the primary sources Ms. Anderson used at the beginning of each chapter. It really made the story more authentic. The action moved along at a good pace and I read it quickly. Can't wait for Ashes to come out!
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Posted January 22, 2013
I found Forge an extremely satisfying seqel to the first masterpiece of this series, Chains. The story picks up several months after the escape of Isabel and Curzon and is told from the perspective of Curzon instead of Isabel, which I personally enjoyed. What seems to be a spontaneous encounter snowballs into a rich, enthralling plot laced with danger, action and even love. Anderson even manages to intertwine the story of Matilda Cook from Fever 1793 (another masterful book by Laurie Halse Anderson) into Isabel and Curzon's story. Truly amazing and a must read.
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I loved this book. I couldn't stop reading it. I can't wait until the 3rd book Ashes comes out. Everyone needs to read this book!!!!!!!!
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Forge is the sequel to the historical fiction book Chains. I had to read chains in school, and i didnt know what to expect. Let me just say... i absolutely LOVED it. Lauri halse anderson makes historical fiction amazingly interesting. When i read forge, which is in Curzon's perspective, i could not put it down. I read it non-stop until it was finished. I cannot wait for Ashes to come out!
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