Now, new young-adult fiction revisits that pivotal period, with teen protagonists at the center of the action. Author Tom Durwood, who teaches with the Naval Warfare Special Development Group and at Valley Forge Military College, has posted a short story, “The Caliph’s Gift,” on his amazon.com book site. It tells of a young shipping cleric caught up in the landscape and intrigue of the Dutch Revolt. Set in Amsterdam as the Dutch administered lucrative and risky sea voyages from Lisbon to Macao (and all points between), the story follows the fortunes of book-keeper Matty Sykes, as he is lured into the dark shadows of international intrigue.
For Durwood, it is the coming together of two longtime loves: history and adventure fiction. “I grew up on Treasure Island and Robert E. Howard,” he says, “and a Kidnapped-style storyline seemed the perfect vehicle to bring to life these fascinating moments in history.” He is offering the story free, in rotation with six of the seven stories in his collection Ulysses S Grant in China and Other Stories.
Durwood especially admires historical novelists like David Liss (A Conspiracy of Paper) and Naomi Novik (Her Majesty’s Dragon), who are able to bring complex trade and commercial issues into their storylines. He feels well-grounded by the cadets he teaches at Valley Forge. “I always know how much background information my students can absorb before they need some entertainment,”
To help make his fiction accessible to young readers, Durwood has engaged West Coast artists Edmund Liang, Angela Sung, Kirk Shinmoto and Thomas Zenteno to add illustrations to his adventure tales. Readers will see 22 of their moody illustrations as well as interviews with three of the illustrators (http://www.tdurwood.com)
Other stories in the collection feature similar brave teens in dire circumstances. “Succession”
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