The Freedom Merchants by Sherryl Jordan.
It is 1615 and twenty five years prior to this, the Irish seaside village of Ballykilmara was raided by Barbary pirates from North Africa who carried off men and women to be slaves. The Villagers never forgot.
During a storm the warning bell is rung announcing either a ship wreck or pirates and the menfolk run armed to the beach. It is both. As the pirates come ashore the locals slaughter them where they stand. God has avenged.
One pirate, Iskander, survives and is nursed back to health by 15 year old Liam and his family and the villagers remembering the slaughter show clemency. But the priest and the English land owners are not so lenient.
A similar pirate raid some months later carries off Liam’s brother and many other villagers to be sold as slaves in the markets of Algiers.
Liam and the Monks of the local monastary mount a rescue mission to buy the hostages from the pirates with gold and set sail for North Africa in a leather boat. What results is a portrait of the cruel and brutal slave trade and two religions that have been going hammer and tongs for centuries and continue to do so until the present day.
Brilliantly told and described by Sherryl Jordan who has researched this topic thoroughly. Action packed and at times gruesome, as Jordan relates the plight of the slaves, but also uplifting as we read of the selfless courage of the monks who gave all for their fellow men. From hopelessness and despair comes miracles. Read it for yourself.
Wide appeal from Intermediate to young adult. The writing will blow you away.