Reviews and Readers’ Comments
A Collection of Work by Tom Durwood
by Sara Ridley on Life of a Story Teller Book Blog | November 20th, 2017
‘There is such a thing as honorable conduct in war.’
One of his novels, in his collection of historical works, is The Colonials. The novel centers on six kids who come from a wealthy background, who admire the American Colonials from afar, at their boarding school. One by one, they are each pulled into a war for equality and liberty, and something they cannot fully understand nor comprehend. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and found myself getting exactly what the back of the book told me- swashbuckling fights, treachery, hidden identities, and assassins.
It made for an entertaining; yet, intriguing read, where I simply found I couldn’t take my eyes away from the page. The American Revolution is widely known to all who have studied history, as one of the greatest global wars of all time. Having known the background of this historic event rather well, I found myself stepping into it for the first time all over again when reading The Colonials. Durwood takes one of history’s greatest events, and retells it through these six wonderful, authentic, and deeply reliable characters, as they discover what it meant to feel heartbreak, revenge, and to learn the truth that the world is not how they once perceive it to be. A wonderful, wonderful read.
Another novel, in Durwood’s collection of historical works ins King James Seventh Company. Centered on a story full of obstacles and time is but a luxury. It begins with a young bookkeeper by the name of Matthias. He is loaned out to none other than the King of England, and discovers that there is far more amiss than his ledgers. King James Seventh Company is an incredible telling of a time when the publication of a new bible comes into being.I must admit, before reading this novel I was concerned I would be swept away by the heavy religious terminology of that time; however, Durwood does an outstanding job.
The last novel in Durwood’s collection of works is Ulyssess S. Grant in China: And Other Stories. This novel centered on the famous event of the Ulysses S. Grant taking a trip around the world. With a collection of young protagonists like Novella, a smart, resilient girl, who is belittled by her clan, they take on all manners of obstacles set during a range of historical events. Although not my favorite out of the three, due to constant changing historical era’s, I still thoroughly enjoyed this novel. What seemed to draw my attention and love to this was the character of Novella and her dream of having a new life for not only her but the clan, who bullied her about for her appearance. It is a wonderful coming of age story that captures the innocence, yet the strength of the youth. This is a wonderful novel to educate children about the events that took place in our past whilst also giving them authentic and relateable characters to help guide them through the novel and through life.
Durwood creates a strong and informative collection of works that are full of mystery, heartbreak, coming of age, and revenge. An excellent telling of historical events , and a wonderful and thoroughly enjoyable way to bring them back to life to educate not only our youth, but the population of the world that has forgotten aspects of our past.
Do I recommend these novels: Absolutely!
Bookplex Book Reviews
A Rabble of Butterflies
Tom Durwood’s writing style reminds me of the great Mr. Steinbeck. Who also was a man of fewer words, but thanks to insightful vocabulary his word choices had more dramatic impact. I found that this author created a fun and colorful journey, which included historical characters, some factual and some ingeniously fabricated. All were interacting in creative environments which stirred the wonder and excitement of the adventurous young boy within me. Fiction or nonfiction this story educated and entertained me, page after page.
King James Seventh Company is a book that I would confidently recommend to everyone, especially those who embrace the adventurous child within.
A 5 Star Review
Jasvella at IBP | November 5th 2017
King James’ Seventh Company
If you love books that have elements of historical fiction, cutting across religion and Christianity, this book is for you! This book brings you to the point of time where the world awaits the release of a New Bible. The story revolves around Matthias, who goes to work at one of his company’s client’s place. He then finds out the truth about who the client really is. The plot thickens as he finds out further about the connection between the New Bible and the client. this story is not just a work of fiction. Beneath the story lies the story of Apostle Paul, and the actual mission his travel across different places around the world. I wouldn’t want to further give away the essential aspects of this book as anyone interested int he genre should definitely grab a copy to enjoy the story on their own.
A 3.5 Star Review
Jasvella at IBP | November 5th 2017
Ulysses S. Grant in China and Other Stories
This book revolves around a girl and her group of friends who bale against some of the issues surrounding the completion of the Suez Canal, which offers a new perspective to the old history we are all familiar with. The drama is mainly on betrayal, friendship, and the struggles the characters face to rise against all odds in their endeavor. I personally feel that this book would be a good fit for younger teenage readers who find books like the The Famous Five interesting, as the story gives a similar feel to one of those.
The plot is somewhat interesting, with fewer suspense elements when compared to the author’s King James’ Seventh Company book.
Comfy Reader Book Blog
by Kerrie Irish | November 20th, 2017
In the first story, you get to see how the first crop was planted in great detail, then you enjoy a tale about teenage Mayans, who must escape the collapse of their empire. Later in the book you travel with a young boy who seeks revenge in a saloon- this one could easily be my favorite story. Eventually, the title story Ulysses S. Grant in China plays out before you. A very detailed and impeccable researched tale, it will be a wonderful experience for a history burr. With illustrations provided on each chapter, this book will interest preteens and adults alike. The book is written for young readers, but I think anyone could enjoy these tales. The writing is strong, and the photos, and map provide beautiful ribbon to the book.
The Colonials is a full-length adventure tale from 1774, in which teenagers from a prestigious academy are inducted into a society of navigators where they are soon pulled into directions that could change history as we know it. I, personally, have never read a book for pleasure about the American Revolution so this was quite an interesting book. You can tell that the author loves history and knows what he’s talking about. The characters are clever, self-driven, and unique. If you like books with lots of adventure, action, and a dose of mystery, then this one is for you.
These books are sure to spark curious minds, and a love for the past. If you know anyone who loves reading biographies, historical/colonial novels or watches The History Channel, then grab these books for them, they are sure to make a wonderful gift.
A 4 Star Review
Jasvella at IBP | November 5th 2017
I love the author’s idea of bringing students into the war of the American Revolution. These rich kids were somehow forced by their circumstances to go into the war for human rights, that is when they actually come to understand that the struggle is not something that they had thought about before.
I like how the author worked meticulously on the struggles the kids face in the sory and this pulls readers directly into the story. The kids journeyed together as they find their own paths. Along the process, they provide a new perspective to the history of the American Revolution.
A 4-Star Review
Amazon Editorial Review
Marta Cheng | December 4, 2017 | Private Review
The year is 1775 and a large number of complex characters are at play: young Will Oldenbarnevelt is the second-born son to a wealthy Dutch shipping merchant, Jiayi Wei Ying is Yunhe Jiating of the Chinese Grand Canal clan. Countess Clotilde Ushakos is the eldest niece of Ekaterina alexeevan- Empress of all Russia- Leo Krummensee- Grabmaler is heir to the House of Hohanzollern…and many others, giving a sense of the impressive scope and scale of this novel.
Together, this fascinating set of characters are the newest crop of the future’s birghtest at the Academy for Royals, a haloed place run by masters, where they work at menial tasks during the day and study old manuscripts and clean barns when not working or sleeping. Once they return to their respective countries to assume their rightful places, they quickly learn that life outside the cloisterd walls of their Academy is harsh. They nevertheless less prevail, unadvertently changing the course of history, aided by the mysterious Society of Navigators…
The Colonials is clearly well-researched, containing the high-octane adventure quotient of a James Michner novel and the imaginative complexity of a Harry Potter tale. There are definite parallels between Hogwarts and the Academy, but the troupe is never missed , and rather heightens the import of the historical narrative. At the heart of the American Revolution lies a global narrative and Durwood effectiely build on this premise, using teenage protagonist thrust into very adult situations of treachery, bloodbaths, and betrayal.
While some historians may not agree with the author’s interpretation that the American Revolutions was the “first skirmish” in a global storm, few will argue that The Colonials is highly entertaining as fiction. The details in the narrative are plentiful and serve to transport the reader back in time with vivid clarity, whether it’s to a battlefield or elegant drawing room. There are some typos here and there, and the dialogue appears to be a little stiff at times, but this formality lends itself to the period.
Overall, The Colonials is an epic, high -stakes adventure that effectively chronicles a struggle for human dignity during wartime. Aimed at young and adult alike, it’s a compelling novel with a vitally important story at its core that is sure to appeal to historical fiction aficionados.
Early Responses from Booksellers
Sherri Smith | Park Road Books | Charlotte, North Carolina
Perhaps you could do what Warner did with Dorothea Benton Frank. Her first two books, Sullivan’s Island and Plantation did well enough in mass market that her publisher now releases her books in hardback first, then paper.
I’ve been a bookseller for 20 years, the children’s book buyer for 10 or more, and I have a Master’s degree in history. While I concentrated on women’s history, I am very familiar with Tudor/Stuart and the early modern era.
Please, keep me posted on the progress of these books; I look forward to selling them
At a time when history seems particularly vital and textbooks seem increasingly bland, a series of historical novels like this is refreshing, and much needed.
After reading a rough draft of Mr. Durwood’s novels. I cannot help but compare him to a more literary version of James Michener. The exotic locales and fast-paced buildup of plot recall Michener’s ‘travel novels,’ but I believe that Durwood’s use of historical turning points and the involvement of a secret society (the Navigators) could add a certain amount of depth and intrigue that Michener’s works often lack. It’s a clever premise, to have teenage heroes coming of age and changing history, aided by the mysterious Society of Navigators. It seem you could spin out an almost endless cycle of similarly colorful scenarios. The existence of a secret society adds a bit of mystery and darkness to the story.
I would recommend this series to anyone who likes Dan Brown, James Michener, Elizabeth Kostova or Patrick O’Grian. It seems to me that these novels would sell best if markets as ‘Historical Fiction’ of ‘Mystery/Thriller’ as opposed to ‘General Fiction.” I would recommend sending bound galleys to as many bookstores as possible. Generating word-of mouth recommendations from booksellers who are in constant contact with the target audience could be a crucial step to the series’ success. I also recommend sending galleys to any bloggers or genre magazines which review historical fiction, as thee are go-to resources for readers on the prowl for new material.