Prince, Slave, Soldier, King: Compelling mix of fact and fiction – new book tells phenomenal tale of 18th century Black pioneer Tom Peters
Introducing Tom Peters to many for the first time, Victoria Eyre shares the life of this exceptional man, from being enslaved in 1760, escaping three times, enlisting in the British Army, and subsequent visits to London to meet slave abolitionist MPs and even a rumoured meeting with Queen Victoria.
In her recounting of the astounding endeavours of 18th century Black pioneer, Tom Peters, the author skilfully brings together a mix of well-researched historical fact with a good measure of fictitious embellishment and imagined conversations to make Prince, Slave, Soldier, King totally unputdownable.
Providing a rollercoaster of a story that takes the reader from the USA to London, Nova Scotia and Sierra Leonne, it’s hard to understand why the accomplishments of this pioneer and visionary have not received greater prominence in the retelling of Black history.
Congratulations to Victoria Eyre for shining the spotlight on the intriguing life of Tom Peters and making his story an accessible and inspirational read.
Synopsis of Prince, Slave, Soldier, King
For diversity, energy, hardship and tenacity Tom Peters’ life was exceptional. Enslaved in 1760 and escaping for a third time in 1775 when the Dunmore Proclamation offered fugitive slaves emancipation in return for military service, he enlisted in the British Army. Promoted to sergeant, he served in the Black Pioneers until 1783.
Subsequent settlement of the Africans in Nova Scotia was a failure; it resulted in Tom visiting London in 1791 to meet abolitionist MPs and in 1792 15 ships carried the Africans to a prepared settlement in Sierra Leone where arriving in May that year, Tom Peters died of fever three months later.
Some events have been omitted, but among people who featured were General Sir Henry Clinton; Granville Sharp; William Wilberforce; Tom’s wife, Sally, and his children, Clairie and John; Sir John Parr the Governor of Nova Scotia; Sir Guy Carleton, Governor General of Canada; and John Clarkson and William Dawes, Governors of Sierra Leone. Rumours surround his life, including his audience with Queen Victoria. Part one is fiction: Tom was born in Yorubaland (Nigeria) not in Ashanti (Ghana). But parts two, three and four are historically more accurate. Conversations throughout are imaginary.
Receiving five-star reviews, readers say:
This is an extraordinary story that takes you into the reality of slavery in West Africa and North America from a very personal perspective. While it follows the life of a remarkable individual whose part in this particularly inhuman chapter in history is surprising as much for what he achieved as for the fact that it has not been told more prominently, it also highlights the roles of other parties at different stages in the enslavement process, from West Africa to North America.
While the narrative follows what many Africans went through in their enslavement, the style of writing makes it an immensely engaging read and a brilliant way to engage young readers in a topic that they might otherwise find hard to digest or otherwise simply not be interested in. This book was a present from my sister and having read it, I gave it straight to two of my children, who not only loved the story but also had their eyes opened to the slave trade. In this sense, the book serves not only as a very good read but as an enormously valuable contribution to ensuring that this period in history is understood and not forgotten – it should be required reading for young children.
“This is a truly eye-opening read. Tom Peters life was amazing. Both tragic and uplifting. The horrendous era of transatlantic slavery and the abolitionists is followed in this book. The journey that we are taken on from capture to escape to war to freedom and return to Africa is a whirlwind of excitement and emotion.” – Rattlinggoodyarn
“This tale of Tom Peters who became the leader of the Black Pioneers in the late 18th century is compulsive reading. Scrupulously factual but filled out with a delicate element of fiction it tells of a turbulent but heroic life, a life struggling with hardship and racism. The writing is economical and exact. The narrative has you on the edge of your seat, and the intense resolution will surely bring a cascade of tears. It is brilliantly illustrated by Sofie Baker. It is indeed rare to come upon a contemporary publication so enhanced by a diverse series of stunning watercolours. Victoria Eyre has contributed a vital addition to the literature of Black History.” – Peter Eyre
“I read this book just as Black History Month UK starts, and it was a great start to the month. In this very beautifully written, well researched book, I learnt a great deal about the history of slavery, who the good guys were and who the bad ones were. It left me with a feeling of enormous respect for those who suffered slavery and then rose above the terrible trauma they had suffered to become leaders of the future.” – T Norman
“The hero of this book is a historical character whose story the author has made totally accessible to old and young. An important achievement as we revaluate the actions of our imperial past.”– Anstice Baring
Published by Unicorn Press, Prince, Slave, Soldier, King -Tom Peters, a Life That Matters is available in paperback (£13.61) on Amazon at https://amzn.to/3INMCto
About Victoria Eyre
Born in Palestine, Victoria Eyre was two when her family moved to Kenya. In England, she became a radionic practitioner and practised for thirty years. Author of the Baby Bun series of children’s books (as Vicky Norman), Prince, Slave, Soldier, King is her first book for adults. Victoria lives in Wiltshire with her husband, a retired barrister.
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