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Keyword: ‘The Freedom Merchants’

The Freedom Merchants by Sherryl Jordan.

June 7, 2013 Comments off

freedom merchantsThe Freedom Merchants by Sherryl Jordan. Pub. Scholastic, 2013.

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.

The King’s Nightingale by Sherryl Jordan. Pub. Scholastic 2021.

January 31, 2021 Comments off

This is one of the best adventure novels about slavery that you will read this year. Based in Europe and North Africa although those two regions are not mentioned in the novel. Instead it is the Penhallow Isles where the main character Elowen was born and raised, and Rabakesh where she is enslaved to king Shaistakhan.

Elowen is a 16 year old girl brought up in a christian religion called Followers of the Shepherd. It’s faults and credibility are revealed to her early in the novel over a illegitimate baby is denied death rights because of her illegitimacy. As this is happening pirates from the south sack Elown’s village and carry off those they can catch to be sold as slaves. Many do not make the journey alive after brutal treatment from the pirates.

Elowen survives along with her brother Fisher but they are sold separately. Elowen is bought for the king because of her beautiful singing voice and is treated very well indeed, in fact in luxury but she has a fatal flaw which is going to ruin this for her.

She is warned not to question the decisions of men or to speak ill of the king who belong to the Izarin religion much like Islam. Elowen is outspoken and makes it clear she wants to escape to find her brother fisher.

Her abilities as a singer earns her the name Shalimar or Kings nightingale and she evokes jealousy amongst the king’s harem. This results in Elowen being resold into desperately different conditions that she had with the King. She regrets this and when she learns of a war machine that is to attack The King she takes very dangerous actions. Read the rest and find out it is brilliant.

Beautifully told and described by Sherryl Jordan who is surely at the top of her game. It follows a similar book titled The Freedom Merchants also reviewed earlier on this blog. However the descriptions of the desert landscape of Rabakesh and the palace lifestyle of King Shaistakhan are delicious, as are the comparisons of the two religions and cultures.

Elowen is a good role model, loyal, brave, compassionate and generous but her outspokenness gets her into trouble. She learns the language and religion of her captives in order to quietly achieve her goals.

A novel in four parts. If you miss this one you will kick yourself.