Forge (Seeds of America Trilogy Series #2)

Forge (Seeds of America Trilogy Series #2)

by Laurie Halse Anderson


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For many readers, Forge “will be one of the best novels they have ever read” (starred review from Kirkus Reviews)!

Blistering winds. Bitter cold. And the hope of a new future. In this compelling sequel to Chains, a National Book Award Finalist and winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson shifts perspective from Isabel to Curzon and brings to the page the tale of what it takes for runaway slaves to forge their own paths in a world of obstacles—and in the midst of the American Revolution.

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416961451
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date: 04/24/2012
Series: Seeds of America Trilogy Series , #2
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 22,103
Product dimensions: 5.16(w) x 7.48(h) x 0.89(d)
Lexile: 820L (what's this?)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous ALA and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Chains also received the 2009 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and Laurie was chosen for the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award. Mother of four and wife of one, Laurie lives in Northern New York, where she likes to watch the snow fall as she writes. You can follow her adventures on Twitter @HalseAnderson, or visit her at

Read an Excerpt



    Tuesday, October 7, 1777



    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.


    I stopped.


    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.

    Crrr-ack BOOM!

    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.


  • Reading Group Guide

    Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson
    A Discussion Guide

    “We have it in our power to begin the world over again . . . The birthday of a new world is at hand.” —From Common Sense by Thomas Paine

    Discuss the outcome of the French and Indian War. How did Britain’s victory over France give the thirteen American colonies cause to seek independence?

    Explain what Curzon means when he says that “the freedom could kill us.” (p. 5) How does freedom separate Isabel and Curzon? Curzon makes references to Isabel throughout the novel. When does he miss her the most?

    Valley Forge wasn’t a battlefield. Instead, it was a winter encampment for Washington’s army. What types of personal battles did the soldiers endure at Valley Forge? Why is Valley Forge considered the turning point in the American Revolution? Discuss the symbolism of Valley Forge.

    Eben is a mere boy when he enlists in the Continental Army. How is his inexperience obvious when he kills the British soldier? Curzon saves Eben’s life by throwing a rock at the British soldier. Discuss why Curzon allows Eben to think that he is a soldier. Why does Curzon feel guilty about lying to Eben?

    What other times in the novel is Curzon forced to live a lie because the truth is simply too dangerous? Stealing is the only way that Curzon can survive in freedom. How does he justify stealing from Turnbull? Curzon steals from Bellingham at the end of the novel so that he and Isabel can once again be free. How might he justify this theft?

    Explain why Curzon is especially sensitive to Turnbull’s insults in front of Eben and his uncle Caleb.

    Curzon enlists in the Sixteenth Massachusetts Regiment, Second Brigade of the Fourth Division of the Northern Continental Army. He becomes Private Curzon Smith, and a tentmate of Eben. Why does joining the army seem the best decision and protection for Curzon at the time?

    British General Burgoyne surrendered to the Continental Army at Saratoga. Curzon seems surprised that no one in the Continental Army shames the British soldiers with insults. Why does Eben’s uncle say that the British troops should be honored? How does this reasoning confuse Curzon about the point of war? Discuss how Curzon comes to realize that silence is powerful.

    Curzon is the victim of prejudice. He deals with it by remembering something that his father once told him: “. . . a lot of white people have twisted hearts. It prevents them from seeing the world properly and turns them into tools of the Devil.” (p. 54) Who has the most twisted heart in Curzon’s company? How does he spread “poison” about Curzon? At what point does Curzon begin doubting Eben’s loyalty? What does it take for Curzon and Eben to become friends again? At the beginning of the novel, Curzon saves Eben’s life. How does Eben help Curzon at the end of the novel?

    Bellingham comes to Valley Forge and recognizes Curzon. What does Curzon mean when he says, “Tho’ I stood in rags and upon frozen feet, I felt much more a man than he?” (p. 149) How does Bellingham deceive Curzon?

    Curzon is brutalized by Bellingham. He deals with it by remembering a mythology story that Benny Edwards told about a guy who stole fire from the gods. He was chained to a rock and an eagle was sent in to peck away at his liver. Curzon says, “Now I knew. I would fight the eagle and the chains and that mountain as long as I had breath.” (p. 199) Who is the eagle? What are the chains? What is the mountain that he must fight?

    Describe Curzon and Isabel’s reunion. How do they have to learn to trust one another again? How does Gideon interfere with this trust? Explain the role of ghosts in Isabel and Curzon’s final reunion. How does the search for Ruth become a symbol of hope at the end of the novel?

    The fifers of the Continental Army played “Yankee Doodle Dandy” as an insult to the British army. Write new lyrics for this song that explain the mood of the Continental soldiers after their win at Saratoga.

    The founding fathers of our nation include George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, Alexander Hamilton, and Gouverneur Morris. Create a poster titled “Those Who Fathered a Nation.” Include photographs and a thumbnail sketch of each man.

    Benjamin “Benny” Edwards is a prodigious reader who believes that his true calling is to be a philosopher. His father, a Tory, kicked him out after a disagreement over the Declaration of Independence. That’s when Benny enlisted in the Continental Army. Read the following story about the Declaration of Independence: Write a letter that Benny might write to his father after reading this article.

    The first celebration of George Washington’s birthday was on February 22, 1778, at Valley Forge. Find appropriate poetry, readings, and music that might have been used on that night to pay tribute to General Washington. Share these tributes in class.

    Research the role of women during the American Revolution. Explain why some were called “camp followers.” Read about Margaret Cochran Corbin. Find out why the Daughters of the American Revolution had her remains reinterred at West Point Military Academy. Write a tribute to her that could be delivered by the female cadets of the military academy.

    Customer Reviews

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    Forge 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 124 reviews.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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!
    SuperLibrarianBlog More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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).
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Read book 1 (chains) and i sooo wanna read this one!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Omg! This is the best book ever! I recommend it 2 everyonr!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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!!!!!!!!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Chains is the best I hope forge is as good as chains
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I'm so excited for the third book it's going to be AMAZING!
    warriorreads More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    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!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is so awesome.i wish they had the next book on here.its called ashes.
    lilibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    In this sequel to Chains, Curzon and Isabel are separated. He enlists as a union soldier, believing she is heading south to locate her sister, Ruth. While serving and stationed at Valley Forge, he is retaken as a slave, he finds that Isabel has also been taken.
    ShellyPYA on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Sequel to Chains. Told from the perspective of Curzon, after he and Isabel run away. They've gotten separated, so Curzon joins up with the army fighting the British, until his old master stumbles across him and forces him into slavery again, where he surprisingly reunites with Isabel and they plot a second escape.
    corydickason on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Like Chains, Forge hits in the gut. Curzon is more likable than Isabel, and his circumstances just as horrific. I think teens reading the books would be left, as I am, desperate to hear what these two do next.
    kcpiano on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I have been waiting for this book ever since the last page of Chains. I was thrilled when my friend sent me a signed copy from the ALA Convention. If you have read any reviews, you know by now that this story focuses on Curzon's side of things. Initially, I was disappointed to find out I wouldn't be finding out about Isabel and Ruth the moment I opened the book, but I soon became enamored with this story. The main setting is the Civil War, Valley Forge. True to Ms. Anderson's amazing characterization in all of her novels, this band of brothers jumps off the page and continues to evolve throughout the story. After reading this book, the story and characters are so real to me that I feel that I've seen the movie. (Is anyone going to make a movie?)The only thing that disappoints is the waiting for the 3rd book!
    jenniferthomp75 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    A decent follow-up to "Chains," but not nearly as good.The focus in this book shifts from Isabel to Curazon after their flight from slavery. Curazon has joined the army after becoming a free man, but learns the demands set upon him (cold weather, lack of warm clothes and little to no shelter) are difficult but worth it.Only when Isabel comes back into the story does it become alive. Curazon is a lovely character, but he has nowhere near the magnetism and energy that Isabel does. It's hard to base a book around a character that's meant to have a supporting role.Halse Anderson does a great job in depicting the horrors of Valley Forge, but I just wish Isabel had entered the picture a bit earlier.
    stacyz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    sequel to Chains, just as enjoyable as the first. now to wait for the third in the trilogy...
    CatheOlson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This is the sequel to the amazing book Chains. Curzon is a slave, supposedly freed, who is mistreated by his boss and ends up fighting for the Revolultionary War and eventually at Valley Forge. LIke Chains, it is an eye-opening look at the treatment of African Americans during that war. It took me a bit to get into the story because Curzon was just a secondary character in Chains and I really wanted to find out what happened to Isabel, but once I got into Curzon's character, I loved the book. Can't wait for the third which I assume will be about both of them together! PS Although girls who read Chains will like this, it is a great one for boys. And they don't need to have read the first one.
    KarenBall on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    "This camp 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?"The war for American freedom is the setting for Curzon and Isabel's fight for their own freedom. They have escaped New York and their respective slaveowning masters,but while Isabel is determined to get to South Carolina to find and free her little sister, Curzon thinks it is utter stupidity to head into the waiting traps of the slavehunters betwen New Jersey and Charleston. Isabel runs away, and Curzon rejoins the Continental Army after saving a soldier's life. The Army desperately needs both soldiers and supplies as they head into the brutal winter months at Valley Forge... where conditions are miserable at best, and deadly at worst. With the help of the soldiers in his company, Curzon survives being without proper shelter and clothing, having to eat soup made from boiled leather, and then going without shoes in the ice and snow when his are stolen. But nothing is worse than the day the Congressional Committee rides in to see the poor conditions at Valley Forge for themselves, and Curzon recognizes his old master, Bellingham. Forced to return to slavery because Bellingham refuses to tell the truth about his promise to free him if he would enlist, Curzon discovers that the other slave Bellingham now owns is none other than Isabel, who wears a metal collar and padlock contraption to prevent her running away again. Strong characters with difficult choices, racism and prejudice of the times, great plot twists and famous Revolutionary leaders! This would be a fantastic read for any 8th grader since we are studying the American Revolution in the fall, but anyone who enjoys excellent historical fiction would like this too. It's a knockout!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Its sucks
    Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
    The drama continues and I was sucked right into it. There is so much talk about the war, what side individuals were taking and how much longer they thought the war would last, it really all depended on who you listened to and what you really believed as to what your answer would be. I thought Curzon and Isabel were a good team when they were together but now, they are separated and Curzon has signed on to be a soldier as he feels the war would soon be over and for now at least he would have some security. War is not easy on him though as there are people who make it hard for him because of his color but he concentrates on his work and he thinks of Isabel and tries to make it through each day. Curzon really frustrated me. He signed up for the war, he knew it was going to be tough plus being of African American decent, he had to know that this might become an issue for other soldiers yet he does it anyway. What was he expecting? It didn’t take long for his past to catch up with him and although he’s enraged and feels deceived at what is transpiring there is one small glimmer of sunshine on his horizon. He only hopes that this sunshine feels the same way. Curzon can’t seem to shake his past but he sees a bright future. What a great continuation of Chains, a novel that had Curzon and Isabel running for their lives. More drama and excitement awaited these two as they searched for Isabel’s younger sister Ruth who was taken from Isabel. I was hoping that Curzon and Isabel would stay together but that didn’t occur. I loved Isabel’s commitment to her younger sister; she was determined to protect her, so sure that her sister could not survive without her, so sure that her sister was failing without her. And then, that moment when she found her little sister, I felt relieved and the more that I read it was not the homecoming that I expected. Dang, the war! Dang, slavery! Dang you, Laurie Anderson for writing this novel! Just when things started to turn around for these characters, it went back two steps; they never could get a break. I could feel the hope, the energy, death and disappointment bleeding out of this novel. I had to know what lies in the future for these three, I’m glad that I picked up the third book in this series, I can’t stop now.