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A novel about one man’s journey to become his own master, from slavery in Jamaica, through to eventual freedom in colonial New South Wales. Based on a true story.

William Buchanan lived an extraordinary life. Born a slave on a plantation in Jamaica, he escaped the gallows more than once. His part in the slave uprisings of the 1830s led to his transportation across the world as one of the convicts sent to New South Wales.

This is a story not only about a boy who fought against all odds in search of freedom, but also about a world not so long ago, when the violence of colonisation was in full force. It is a story of Jamaica, and Australia, but at its heart, it is a story about how one lives a life, whether slave or free man.

Steeped in history but full of lessons that resonate for us today, William Buchanan’s coming-of-age tale of survival and fate is a thrilling tale told in a singular voice, from a startling new talent in Australian writing.


An extraordinary achievement, mirroring an exceptional life, Sienna Brown's debut is breathtaking. Rich and lyrical, it pulses with determination, with hope, and with truth.

Kathryn Heyman

What gives one man the right to own another is the question at the heart of this beautiful meditation on love, loss and liberty through the voice of one who lived it, William Buchanan, lifelong Jamaican rebel forced to become Australian settler. In Sienna Brown’s compelling first novel, Will’s voice is so true, his personality so engaging, his wonder at both the evil and beauty of the world so compelling, his lifelong adventures so heroic, we want to cheer him at every turn. Master of my Fate is a brave and historically grounded addition to the growing body of works examining history through the consciousness of the enslaved.

Olive Senior

Sienna Brown's Master of My Fate is a confident and ambitious debut.

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Based on a true story and written by Brown with compassion and creativity, this tale of William Buchanon's life from slavery to freedom is at once heartbreaking and inspiring. His dawning understanding of being a "chattel" to another man and his rise against this leads him to face his demons and find a hard-won freedom. Powerful and affecting.

Sylvia, Better Read Than Dead

Stripping someone of their humanity because of the colour of their skin, because they have a criminal record, because they were born into the wrong family – as much as Master of My Fate is a book about the past, its themes are disturbingly relevant. So, too, is fighting back.

Elizabeth Flux, The Guardian

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Formats & editions

  • Trade Paperback


    May 7, 2019

    Vintage Australia

    320 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    May 7, 2019

    Random House Australia

    320 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks


Prologue Colony of NSW, 1851

I wake with a start. Been dreaming. Dreaming bout a light that shine bright, strong, hot, even though all round is a cool, shadowy darkness. A light that call to me. Softly, softly, if only I can reach it. Touch it. Pull it out of the darkness and keep it safe. I reach out for that light as if still in the dream, but it start to fade and I wake to a body that feel heavy. Heavy as lead, and me clothes, me skin is wet, and I cannot even seem to lift me head. If only the wetness going turn into light and I can dream again. I feel round with me hands to discover rough cotton sheets and they too is wet, filled up with sweat.

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Book Clubs
Master Of My Fate Book Club Notes

This novel about one man’s journey to become his own master, from slavery in Jamaica, through to eventual freedom in colonial New South Wales, is perfect for book clubs.

Sienna Brown Q&A

The author discusses the research and inspiration behind her historical fiction novel, Master Of My Fate.