Laurie Halse Anderson
Not having read the first in this series, Chains, I started Forge playing catch-up. The book works as a stand-alone, but I suspect it would work a lot better as a sequel. Historical fiction is a hard sell with me and the Revolutionary War period is one that especially tends to bore me for some reason, so it took quite a while for me to find my footing in this book. Though Curzon and the secondary characters (especially Eben, who I loved) is written well the fact that I came into the story partway through was definitely a stumbling block I don't suggest.
This is the first historical book I've read by Laurie Halse Anderson, but I'm happy to report that her historical writing skills are every bit as good as her contemporary writing skills. Though there were points when the story seemed to drag on, I have a feeling that's more my fault than the books and about halfway in I was hooked. The focus on slaves in the war - the fight for the freedom of a country versus the freedom of a people - is an incredibly interesting subject and well-done here as Curzon's opinions on the matter don't always match up with the opinions of those he cares about (Eben and Isabel, for instance). The relationships between the characters, most notably Curzon and his fellow soldiers, is one of the strongest points of the novel. It's easy to get caught up in these characters and their lives. The perspective of an escaped slave also brings a new POV to a part of America's history that often seems boring and rote, especially to those readers (like myself) who have mostly learned about the war from textbooks.
This is the first book to get me interested in the Revolutionary War. With well-crafted characters, an interesting subject matter, and rich historical detail that adds to the story I definitely recommend it to historical fiction fans as well as readers who are a bit more lukewarm about the genre.