Friday, February 4, 2011
(This is the second book in a series with began with the award-winning Chains.)
forge - noun
1. A furnace or hearth where metals are heated or wrought; a smithy.
2. A workshop where pig iron is transformed into wrought iron.
forge - verb
1.To form by heating in a forge and beating or hammering into shape.
2. To give form or shape to, especially by means of careful effort
3. To fashion or reproduce for fraudulent purposes; counterfeit
Forge - noun
1. a valley, Valley Forge
Forge, the historical fiction novel by Laurie Halse Anderson is all of these things. Ostensibly the story of the brutal winter of 1777-1778 suffered by patriot soldiers at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, Forge is also the story of the forging of a nation. And while the nation forges ahead toward freedom, it forges not only weaponry and tools of war, but also tools of bondage against fellow men. And while some may forge lies and deception, the harsh Valley Forge winter is itself a forge, forging a united army of determined men (and women) who cannot be disuaded from the path to freedom.
The story begins where Chains left off. Runaway slaves Isabel and Curzon escape from New York, Isabel from household servitude, Curzon from a British prison. They travel together, forging a wary companionship, but Isabel - stubborn and defiant, is insistent on following her sister who was sold South. The more thoughtful and deliberative Curzon believes that North, towards Albany is the safest route. They part ways and Curzon survives many dangerous situations, eventually ending up with a Massachusetts Regiment at Valley Forge. The horrific conditions of the starving, freezing, over-worked, poorly clothed men at Valley Forge are better, however, than the life to which Curzon is forcibly and unfairly returned. He is warm, well-fed, and well-dressed, but he is no longer free. Eventually, he reunites with the "pigheaded" Isabel and they forge a true alliance, no longer allied by chance, but by choice.
Told in chronological fashion, each chapter beginning with a period quote relevant to the story, Forge is a perfect mix of moving historical fiction and fast-paced adventure with intrigue. Laurie Halse Anderson is in the midst of writing a YA book. If it's not the conclusion, I hope she gets back to Curzon and Isabel soon!
Tim Cain's voice has a youthful sound and a lively spirit. His is a believable Curzon. He reads Curzon's speech with the measured tones of a young man who must carefully weigh every word that he speaks. Any mistake can cause danger, even death. The voices of every soldier and officer have a distinct, though not dramatically different tone. Even the voice of Isabel is plausible. A young woman of her stubbornness and determination might be assumed to have a strong manner of speaking. An excellent performance. I enjoyed Forge even more than its predecessor, Chains.
Read a few pages of the print copy of Forge here.
A reading group guide for Forge is available from Simon & Schuster.
Enjoy this interview with author Laurie Halse Anderson.
Another review @ AudioFile