“Kevin Bannister’s Long Way Home is a novel that grabs your attention from the start and keeps you riveted to the last word. It is written around an era where the life of an Indigenous North American, and a person of African roots, were deemed by Caucasians to be easily expendable and not a thing to trouble a conscience. It highlights in great detail the fact that when greed and self interest came to the forefront during the American Revolution that Caucasian brothers had no compulsion about inflicting unspeakable barbarities upon each other. An unforgettable read!”
Dr. Daniel N. Paul, C.M., O.N.S., LLD, DLIT, Mi'kmaw eldering, author of We Were Not The Savages, Order of Canada recipient, journalist and lecturer, www.danielpaul.com
"Murphy Steele is not old enough to do a man’s work when he and Thomas Peters run away from their owner. They are easily captured and brutally flogged. With a second escape, both are branded R on their cheeks as runaways. The third time, their captor takes them to Wilmington, North Carolina, and keeps them for his own.
The American Revolution comes to Wilmington with a fleet of British warships. Lord Dunmore promises to free any escaped slaves who will serve as soldiers. After the war, they will be given land. Murphy and Thomas eagerly arrange another escape and join the Royal Ethiopian Regiment, soon renamed the Black Pioneers.
Thus begins The Long Way Home. Basing his novel on actual persons and events, Kevin Bannister takes an utterly unique look at the American Revolution through the eyes of a second, smaller group of people who win their freedom in battle. However, their war ends badly. Murphy, Thomas, and other Black pioneers have a choice – return to slavery in North Carolina, or follow withdrawing British troops and Loyalists to Canada. There, they find prejudice equally pervasive and land of their own an elusive dream.
I loved The Long Way Home. It’s told in an easy, conversational style, with vivid language that puts you right in the action. Thomas Peters was instrumental persuading over 1,000 freed blacks to return to Africa, where they founded Freetown, Sierra Leone. Mr. Bannister’s story ends with that hopeful beginning, and a note which says he’s working on a sequel. I can’t wait to read it.
Historical Novel Society
"The Long Way Home is an historical fiction novel written by Kevin Bannister. Thomas Peters and Murphy Steele had little in common, except for the circumstances they found themselves in. Murphy had no memories of a past life aside from his life as a slave. The schoolteacher he had been assigned to help had taught him to read and write and gave him an idea of where he was living now and where his people had come from; she would tutor him after the white children’s lessons were finished. Then he was taken from the schoolhouse and assigned to help the cook with kitchen work, and his education was over. He was out chopping wood with a blunt and rusty ax when the older Thomas explained how to hone the ax with a stone and some oil. Thomas was the son of an African king whose brother had betrayed him and arranged for his son’s capture by slavers. When Thomas came out to where Murphy was working one day and said "Let’s go," Murphy found himself walking away from the Richardson estate in search of freedom. Their escape was cut short the next day when bounty hunters found them and dragged them back to the estate where they were whipped the following day. It was only the first time they would try for freedom, and they would risk everything, including their lives, to do that.
Kevin Bannister’s historical fiction novel, The Long Way Home, is an epic work that follows the two historical figures, Peters and Steele, as they work to escape their bonds and sign on with the English army forces during the American Revolution. I was mesmerized by the intensity and power of this work that brings to light heroes I hadn’t known about. It exposes the injustices that followed the black veterans from the United States up into Nova Scotia, where the promises of land and help with getting started were soon found to be empty promises, and they became fodder for more exploitation. Those sections of the novel that dealt with their early efforts in Digby, Nova Scotia are marvelous! I loved reading about Steele’s logging ventures and his interactions with the Bear River Mi’kmaq tribe, and I kept a map of Nova Scotia on hand to follow Steele and Peters’ movement. Bannister’s writing is lyrical and elegant, at times I would feel compelled to stop and reread an especially memorable passage. I learned a lot from reading The Long Way Home and plan on looking for historical works regarding this overlooked episode in American history. The Long Way Home is most highly recommended."
Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite
"How unsettling it must feel to one day be living a life of royalty, to another day be betrayed by a loved one. The Long Way Home by Kevin Bannister is a fictional story based on true accounts of the life of Adekola Akande, whose name means determination. Adekola was living a good life in his country, he was set to be married, and looking forward to raising a family. Then the unthinkable happened - he was captured and sold as a slave. In captivity, Adekola was later given a slave name, Thomas Peters. Thomas became friends with Murphy Steele; they had one thing in common, to run away from the plantation and become free men. Due to Thomas’ upbringing, he never knew defeat and definitely not the life of a slave. However, for Murphy, all he ever knew was being a slave. Initially, Murphy could not understand the burning desire to be free that Thomas possessed. Murphy wanted to know what freedom was and what were the benefits of being free? In Murphy’s friendship with Thomas, he began to learn more about life, dreaming, and freedom than he ever could imagine.
The Long Way Home by Kevin Bannister is a well-written, historical account of the life of Adekola Akande (Thomas Peters). Kevin truly opened my eyes to a part of history that had escaped me - not about the hunt, the capture or slavery, but the history of Africans that lived a life of royalty, culture, and that of kings and queens. A lot of stories about slavery are not told from this perspective, nor about the other elements that Africans played for the betterment of the world. I fell in love with this story from the beginning. As the story developed, Kevin interjected history and culture, as told through Thomas, that gave the story not only a relevance to history, but a face of another life in another time. Everyone has a culture that identifies who they are and what they represent, but The Long Way Home by Kevin Bannister takes the story to another level. This is because Thomas was one of the Black Loyalists Founding Fathers of Sierra Leone that was instrumental in the fight for freedom and ending slavery. If you are looking for a great historical yet true account of culture, freedom and history, The Long Way Home by Kevin Bannister is a keeper."
Vernita Naylor for Readers’ Favorite
"Kevin Bannister’s The Long Way Home chronicles the lives of two forgotten heroes, Thomas Peters and Murphy Steele, black slaves whose bodies bore the marks of their repeated attempts to escape from their cruel masters. Kidnapped by slave traders, Thomas was an African prince who tended to use his brain while Murphy used his muscles in their fight for freedom. After many escape attempts, the two men end up in Wilmington where the rebelling Americans are putting up resistance to their British masters. As the conflict escalates, they become sergeants in the Black Pioneers where Murphy distinguishes himself.
The Long Way Home by Kevin Bannister takes us back to the 18th century when blacks were fleeing colonial America as slaves or freemen, and later settled in Nova Scotia. The main protagonists, Thomas Peters and Murphy Steele, are historical figures who lived during this time. Stripped of their dignity, the two black slaves never gave up hope that one day they would regain their freedom. Fast paced and poignant, this is a story that reveals an element of America’s darkest past when black slaves were treated like beasts of burden. Towards the end of the American War of Independence, when many Black Loyalists fled and relocated in the British colony of Nova Scotia, Canada, the two men continue to fight for something many of us take for granted today: freedom. This novel is a tribute to these two forgotten heroes who made it possible for blacks to live and thrive in Canada up to this day."
Maria Beltran, playwright, author, past chairwoman of Women In Literary Arts Inc.
"It takes more than a good imagination to write a spellbinding historical novel, but The Long Way Home by Kevin Bannister is a success on many many levels; a historical novel about two obscure and courageous slaves who fought in the War of Independence and had to sacrifice everything and overcome all kinds of challenges to seek a new home. What does it take to be free? Could it be true that freedom isn’t free, that it must come at a great price? This novel will offer readers insights into what it took to gain freedom from slavery and more.
The author has written about such a sensitive topic and in a very beautiful way. The reader will become immersed in a reality that may seem too distant, but written in a language that conjures very vivid images, a tale that will speak to the hearts of readers with eloquence. Bannister has successfully combined historical facts with glowing imagination to deliver a masterpiece that will be well received by lovers of historical fiction. His language succinctly portrays the world of a slave and the injustices prevalent in that world.
The plot may not be laced with the typical suspense one would expect to find in most exciting novels, but the author has done a marvelous job in captivating readers, inspiring a deep longing to know what happens as they follow their heroes from one hardship to another – from surviving illnesses like smallpox to fighting bandits along the way. The characters are extraordinarily compelling, strung with the kind of courage one would find only in persons fighting between death and freedom. The facts in Kevin Bannister’s The Long Way Home are intriguing enough to draw readers in."
Romuald Dzemo, author of Courage To Embrace Yourself and You Can't Be A Failure
"The Long Way Home is an inspirational and harrowing historical fiction drama by author Kevin Bannister. The novel’s central plot focuses on two slaves during the American revolution, who make their escape in a bid to enlist in the British army. There is young Murphy Steele, who knows no other life but slavery, and the influential Thomas Peters, who claims he was born a prince in Africa, but stolen away from his people in a wicked deal. After a first failed attempt at escape, the duo suffers horrific punishments, but this only spurs them on to try again until they find success. Eventually Murphy and Thomas are able to make lives as free men, but being dark skinned in a white man’s world means they will always have hardships, even when they are free.
Author Kevin Bannister has created a superbly detailed historical novel that contained a lot of facts about the discrimination of black people, some of which I had never heard of before (having to buy a pew in the church, for example). Our narrator Murphy tells his tale with directness, a simple yet effective descriptive style. Through his eyes, we see Thomas’ wild and impetuous spirit, his search for justice, and his thirst to right the many inequalities that he sees in the world. Though the men pass through many different settings on their quest for a free life, The Long Way Home is very much a character driven story at heart. I’d definitely recommend it to all historical fiction fans."
K.C. Finn, author of the Caecilius Rex saga, The Secret Star and The Book of Shade and the bestselling and award-winning novel The Mind's Eye
Kevin Bannister is Lorraine's husband and the father of five. He is a rancher living in the beautiful foothills of central Alberta. He has been a farmer, businessman, journalist, editor, sportswriter, stockbroker, truck driver, gum puller, janitor, corporate vice president, steelworker and door-to-door salesman.
He would like Thomas Peters and Murphy Steele to be celebrated as the heroes that they were in their lifetimes and to be inspirations to young people everywhere to persevere in the face of bigotry, poverty, government indifference or any other adversity.
He is in great debt, especially to his wife Lorraine who is his greatest critic and a superb editor, to Lorraine Delp his Fireship Press editor and to Mary-Lou and Jacquie at Fireship for publishing the book and guiding him along the way and to his daughter Rebekah who designed and built his web site. He is also thankful for Dr. Daniel Paul who corrected some mistakes and thus improved The Long Way Home.
Copyright © 2017 by Kevin Bannister