The Pact: The Illustrated Colonials Book One

Tom Durwood
Empire Studies Press (2021)
ISBN 9781952520150
Reviewed by Jeni Tahaney for Reader Views (06/2021)

“The Pact” is Book One in The Illustrated Colonials series, a historical fiction saga for teens and young adults with a distinctive spin on the American Revolution.

The main characters of this story are Mei Ying, Glibert, Sheyndil, Leo, Mahmoud, and Will O.  The author takes the first part of the book to introduce each of these characters. Jiaya Mei Ying is the moody teen whose family controls the canals on behalf of the Chinese Emperor. Gilbert du Motier is the handsome French Dragoon. Sheyndil is the Russian farm girl and emissary to Catherine the Great. Leo is of German blood and next in line to inherit the title of Baron. Mahmoud is the spoiled prince who will one day become the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Will O. is the second son of a prominent family of Dutch traders. 

All of these young people, due to different circumstances, find themselves attending the same boarding school in the Alsace region of the French Alps under the tutelage of Master Frestel and Master Dubin. Each has been chosen because he or she is a “member of a family with a wide reach” which is advantageous now that the “Bostonians have triggered a world war.” (p.43)

The second part of this story shows the readers how these main characters interact while undergoing an education that includes academics, teamwork, manual labor, taking care of animals, self-defense, and the British Nine Rules of War. As Master Frestel and the others at the school reiterate, these young adults are being coached to help the colonials, learn the American ideals of freedom, and to bring back these ideals to their various countries. After the ultimate battle at the end of book one, Master Frestel is headed to Boston while Mei Ying, Glibert, Sheyndil, Leo, Mahmoud, and Will form a pact. The pact includes being honest with each other, to always try to do good, and as Sheyndil so eloquently declares, “if one of us calls, the others must answer. We each vow it.” (p. 92)

“The Pact” sets the stage for the ultimate skirmish, the Revolutionary War. It will amaze readers how the author seamlessly weaves the young heroes’ stories into the fabric of this historical event without altering the actual circumstances of the war. Personally, this reader enjoyed seeing the war from a fresh perspective. Typically, the audience is used to a white male perspective when it comes to the great Revolutionary War. Mr. Durwood humanizes this dry subject by inserting these six interesting characters from different countries. 

This is just the hook our young adult audience needs to be able to relate to this piece of history.  However, young adults are not the only audience who will enjoy the beginning of this saga.  Adult readers who know a bit more about the Revolutionary War will enjoy both the storylines and the history of the war.  People ages 12 and up who love historical war fiction should start their journey by reading “The Pact: The Illustrated Colonists Book One” by Tom Durwood.  They will enjoy both the story and the beautiful illustrations that accompany this story.

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