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Cane Warriors

by Alex Wheatle

'new gen' - Great Books for Young Adults Action / Adventure / Spy / Espionage Books of the Month Historical Fiction Sharing Diverse Voices

LoveReading View on Cane Warriors

Written with luminous, crackling style, Cane Warriors is an unforgettable account of Jamaican and British history that must be known, with an unforgettable narrator at its heart. In the words of fourteen-year-old Moa, “the hope of our dreamland churned in my belly,” a powerful statement that pulses through this extraordinary story of Tacky’s War.

Based on a revolutionary real-life 1760 Jamaican slave rebellion, a visceral sense of the atrocities Moa and his fellow field slaves are subjected to is evoked from the start. Their bodies are lashed and “roasted by a brutal sun”, Moa hasn’t seen his house-slave mama for three years, his papa lost an arm in mill machinery, and his friend Hamaya fears the day predatory white men will “come for me.”

Spurred by the death of Miss Pam who “drop inna da field and lose her life”, and led by Miss Pam’s brother Tacky, who “trod like a king” and whose brain “work quick like Anancy”, the uprising hinges on the freedom fighters killing the plantation master. While Moa is glad to be given a pivotal role in the rebellion, he fears that success and escape will mean he’ll never see his parents or Hamaya again - his conflict is palpable, but he’s set on being a cane warrior. Outside the plantation, Moa’s world is immediately transformed, with his life as a freedom fighter evoked in fine detail (I loved the depiction of him tasting creamy, fleshy sweetsop for the first time). There are bloody battles ahead, executed in the presence of Akan gods, and driven by brotherhood and hope for that dreamland. Lucidly lyrical and raw, I cannot praise Cane Warriors enough.

Joanne Owen

Cane Warriors Synopsis

Nobody free till everybody free.

Moa is fourteen. The only life he has ever known is toiling on the Frontier sugar cane plantation for endless hot days, fearing the vicious whips of the overseers. Then one night he learns of an uprising, led by the charismatic Tacky. Moa is to be a cane warrior, and fight for the freedom of all the enslaved people in the nearby plantations. But before they can escape, Moa and his friend Keverton must face their first great task: to kill their overseer, Misser Donaldson. Time is ticking, and the day of the uprising approaches . . .

Irresistible, gripping and unforgettable, Cane Warriors follows the true story of Tacky's War in Jamaica, 1760.

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Closing date: 01/11/2020

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Cane Warriors Press Reviews

Alex Wheatle writes from a place of honesty and passion with the full knowledge and understanding that change can only happen through words and actions - Steve McQueen

It's passionate, important and Wheatle's best novel yet -- Children's Book of the Week - The Times

An important powerful novel about hope, freedom and brotherhood - Observer

The importance of this book cannot be overstated. Alex Wheatle takes the truth, and creates fiction to illuminate that truth. He too is a warrior. A word warrior. I saw my ancestors in this book, and now I know that Alex and I really are brothers. -- Benjamin Zephaniah What a book. Muscular and powerful but utterly tender. My favourite Alex Wheatle novel yet -- Kiran Milwood Hargrave -

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781783449873
Publication date: 01/10/2020
Publisher: Andersen Press Ltd
Format: Hardback

About Alex Wheatle

Born in 1963 to Jamaican parents living in Brixton, ALEX WHEATLE spent most of his childhood in a Surrey children's home. He returned to Brixton in 1977 where he founded the Crucial Rocker sound system and performed his own songs and lyrics under the name of Yardman Irie. He spent a short stint in prison following the Brixton uprising of 1981. Following his release from prison he continued to write poems and lyrics and became known as the Brixton Bard. Alex's first novel, BRIXTON ROCK, was published to critical acclaim in 1999. Five more novels, EAST OF ACRE LANE, THE SEVEN SISTERS, ISLAND SONGS, ...

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