A former child soldier tries to learn the ways of peace in an African nation in this “rip-roaring adventure story” by a Carnegie Medal winner (Publishers Weekly).
Paul remembers nothing from before the conflict. Twelve years old, he is no longer a child. He is a warrior—one of a handful of elite commandos who live only to fight the corrupt government of Nagala. He has no family but the boys who fight beside him, and he owns nothing but his AK-47 rifle. This is the only life he has ever known, and it is one he understands—right until the day the standoff ends and his life changes forever.
Paul buries his AK and heads north to attend school and attempt to live life as just another child. But at night, the battlefield consumes his dreams. When a rogue faction stages a coup in the capital and Paul’s adoptive father is put in prison, the boy turns into a warrior once more. It is too late for him to have a childhood, but Paul will do whatever it takes to guarantee himself a future.
From the author Philip Pullman called “one of the real masters of children’s literature,” this is an extraordinary novel for readers of all ages, a winner of the prestigious Whitbread Award in which “Dickinson deals intelligently with vital issues, devises potent symbols with his usual skill, and offers much to discuss in a vivid and compelling setting” (Kirkus Reviews).
Peter Dickinson was born in Africa but raised and educated in England. From 1952 to 1969 he was on the editorial staff of Punch, and since then has earned his living writing fiction of various kinds for children and adults. His books have been published in several languages throughout the world.
The recipient of many awards, Dickinson has been shortlisted nine times for the prestigious Carnegie Medal for children’s literature and was the first author to win it twice. The author of twenty-one crime and mystery novels for adults, Dickinson was also the first to win the Gold Dagger of the Crime Writers’ Association for two books running: The Glass-Sided Ants’ Nest (1968) and The Old English Peepshow (1969).
A collection of Dickinson’s poetry, The Weir, was published in 2007. His latest book, In the Palace of the Khans, was published in 2012 and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal.
Dickinson has served as chairman of the Society of Authors and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2009 for services to literature.
“This exceedingly ambitious novel succeeds at everything it attempts. . . . A rip-roaring adventure story.” —Publishers Weekly
“One of the real masters of children’s literature.” —Philip Pullman
“Peter Dickinson is a national treasure.” —The Independent