Monday, March 22, 2010

Patriot's Reward by Stephen Clarkson

Patriot's Reward is the story of an African man captured by slave traders in 1755 when he was sixteen and brought from what is now Senegal, Africa to America to be sold off as a slave. At the beginning of the novel main character Will Clarkson, having adopted the surname of his owners, undergoes many emotional, physical and circumstantial changes, thus allowing him to develop into an interesting and appealing character central to the plot. Will develops a yearning to learn the English language, like the white men he is surrounded by. With this skill Will gains an air of confidence, a newfound skill as a leader in social situations and is able to establish himself as an admired member of both the black and white community. When Will hears word that all slaves signing up for war would have assured freedom upon return, he is eager to claim this reward. Therefore Will is sent first to fight in the Civil War in southern colonial areas, subsequently he is involved in the Revolutionary War in which he must overcome the racism throughout the army to fight side by side with the whites. Will is acknowledged in many of these battles for his heroism and acts of strength during conflict. When Will finally returns from the Wars, he is haunted and shattered by his experiences. Though, not free as promised, he continues to petition for his liberation.

I liked the idea of this book. I was interested to learn about the slave history of America and captivated by the first hundred or so pages. But after this point, the appeal faded as the war scenes lengthened. The way Patriots Reward was written in third person made it easy to follow and I liked the eloquence of language used, fitting to the era. The author depicted well the personal side of the story, in which we see Will care for his family and his struggle for acceptance and freedom, whereas the description of conditions and events during the Wars became tedious. My impressions and thoughts after reading this book were varied with a slight disappointment at the ending to amazement at the strength of spirit of one African man. The preface and comments included in this book made the characters and situations more real to me due to the direct ancestry between the author and Wills owner, James Clarkson. I would recommend this novel, Patriot's Reward to mature reading history enthusiasts who will be able to understand the powerful and articulate language as well as appreciate the scenes of war.

Reviewer Age:15
Reviewer City, State and Country: Melbourne , Victoria Australia