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Cane Warriors

"Must-read real-life story of hope and heroism during a 1760 uprising of Jamaican slaves"

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LoveReading4Kids Says

LoveReading4Kids Says

Shortlisted for the UKLA Book Award 2022 ages 11-14 | Shortlisted for the YA Book Prize 2021 | Shortlisted for the Iris Award | Longlisted for the YA Jhalak Prize | Longlisted for the YA Diverse Book Award | Shortlisted for the Yoto Carnegie Medal 2022

Written with luminous, crackling style, Cane Warriors is an unforgettable account of Jamaican and British history that must be known, with an unforgettable narrator at its heart. In the words of fourteen-year-old Moa, “the hope of our dreamland churned in my belly,” a powerful statement that pulses through this extraordinary story of Tacky’s War.


Based on a revolutionary real-life 1760 Jamaican slave rebellion, a visceral sense of the atrocities Moa and his fellow field slaves are subjected to is evoked from the start. Their bodies are lashed and “roasted by a brutal sun”, Moa hasn’t seen his house-slave mama for three years, his papa lost an arm in mill machinery, and his friend Hamaya fears the day predatory white men will “come for me.”


Spurred by the death of Miss Pam who “drop inna da field and lose her life”, and led by Miss Pam’s brother Tacky, who “trod like a king” and whose brain “work quick like Anancy”, the uprising hinges on the freedom fighters killing the plantation master. While Moa is glad to be given a pivotal role in the rebellion, he fears that success and escape will mean he’ll never see his parents or Hamaya again - his conflict is palpable, but he’s set on being a cane warrior. Outside the plantation, Moa’s world is immediately transformed, with his life as a freedom fighter evoked in fine detail (I loved the depiction of him tasting creamy, fleshy sweetsop for the first time). There are bloody battles ahead, executed in the presence of Akan gods, and driven by brotherhood and hope for that dreamland. Lucidly lyrical and raw, I cannot praise Cane Warriors enough. 

Joanne Owen

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This is a fast-paced novel about a slave uprising in Jamaica, told from the perspective of a young boy caught up in the brutal violence as their plantation overseers are defeated.

Moa is a young boy who has spent his entire life on a sugar cane plantation in Jamaica surrounded by cruel British overseers. After the death of an elderly woman who was close to Moa and his companions, his friend Tacky decides enough is enough. They have spent all their years living in fear from Misser Donaldson's harsh whips and their days toiling away in the scorching heat. Moa's father is against the uprising and worries for his safety whilst his mother is proud and sends him away with prayers.

Moa is among a group of slaves who take on the white plantation owners, killing the men (and their children) who made their lives a misery.... Read Full Review

Issie Ford

Cane warriors uses language beautifully. I loved the blend of standard English and dialect.

Cane warriors uses language beautifully. I loved the blend of standard English and dialect. Although it did take a little while to get used to the style and voice of the book. After a few chapters I really felt that I had grasped it. I would give this book an 8 out of 10. Because I found some of the brutality and violence in the book too vivid for me.... Read Full Review

George Daniels

Cane Warriors was an enjoyable and interesting read which enforced a moral story while also being fun and exciting.

Cane Warriors tells the story of Moa, a Jamaican slave in the 17 hundreds, as he plays his part in Tacky’s war to end slavery in 1760. It follows his journey as he fights, and kills for his freedom and his views on slavery and the European forces that enslaved them. The story recalls the true events of Tacky’s war, showing a younger and easier view of the slaves daily toil and their attempt to prevent it. This book was really enjoyable and interesting to read as it had a strong message and storyline, while also being informative and accurate.... Read Full Review

Seren Daly