The Caliph’s Gift and Four More Stories – Paperback


Five young illustrators deliver graphic-novel adaptations of stories which feature teens at key moments in history.

Get a free copy of the book in PDF format with your purchase of the physical book, available for immediate download.

Also check out: Love Triangle in the High Sierras (expanded), The Caliph’s Gift (expanded), The Jade Necklace (expanded), and Ulysses S. Grant in China and Other Stories



Five young illustrators deliver graphic-novel adaptations of stories which feature teens at key moments in history.

In “The Jade Necklace” we meet two very different thieves vie for the same treasure in the crumbling empire of the High Maya.

“Love Triangle in the High Sierras” shows what can happen when infatuation meets a gunfight.

“Saloon Reunion” recounts a violent tale of remembrance and a son’s brutal revenge.

“Song of the Ayyubid” gives readers a moody meditation on war and commerce from the ancient world.

In the title story, young cleric Matthias’ life is radically changed by the mysterious Ottoman counselor Sokollu and by the Caliph’s gift, a pair of elegant throwing daggers. A cryptic message is engraved on their hilts.


Additional Details
Publication date: June 2018



Excerpt #1

Rynert licked lips which had abruptly gone dry.

“You the law?”

The boy shook his head.

“Six years ago,” he replied. “That day in the Central Valley. Wagon of German settlers, west of Sacramento.”                   

Rynert’s eyes widened.

He looked hard and seemed to recognize something in the youth’s face.

He touched the brim of his hat, to give himself a moment to recover; but as he did, his fingers began to tremble. In that moment, his body seemed to contract itself, as though acknowledging that a greater force had entered the chamber.

The other diners felt it too, and seemed to know that events would now be taking an entirely new trajectory.


Excerpt #2

At the edge of my senses, I heard a shrill whistle –

I dropped to the ground.

A blade clattered above me.

I heard a quick hollow sound, feet rushing on the quay —

I turned to glimpse the assassin’s gleaming eyes and a second knife in his hand; a moment later two kilij daggers had pinned his throat to the staves of a barrel.

I had hurled them flat and head-high with all my might, but I could not be sure how they struck. I clambered across the wooden dock as fast as I could with my accursed leg, holding my little pocket-knife at the ready and looking for a second attacker, but none came.

They had sent a lone assassin to kill the lame cleric: it was a mistake they would not make again.


About Tom Durwood

Tom Durwood is a teacher, writer and editor with an interest in history. Tom most recently taught English Composition and Empire and Literature at Valley Forge Military College, where he won the Teacher of the Year Award five times. Tom has taught Public Speaking and Basic Communications as guest lecturer for the Naval Special Warfare Development Group at the Dam’s Neck Annex of the Naval War College.

Tom edits an open-access scholarly journal, The Journal of Empire Studies (


Gorgeously written … the author has done his research. These books are sure to spark curious minds.
— Kerri Irish, ComfyReader book blog

For Additional Reviews about Tom Durwood and his books, visit