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A Call to Arms by Shiriluna Nott

book cover of A Call to Arms

This is a nice little book, aimed I guess at pre-teens or young teenagers, with a gay 13-year-old main character and a mediaevalesque fantasy setting.

It did strike me as a very naïve book. The feudal society depicted is somehow undergoing dramatic social changes, such that women can go to school and become warriors (even against the wishes of their fathers) now, and in many contexts such as those Gibben Nemesio experiences, commoners can be treated the same as the noble-born. Despite being a poor and initially illiterate peasant, he makes friends entirely with high-born people, including a prince! With a little bit of sociological knowledge it’s hard to see how such social changes could be occurring without the very foundations of feudalism being shaken, even a little bit. It’s like if a reformist decided that never mind capitalism, feudalism was fundamentally an okay system that just needed a few reforms to make it “fairer”. It’s still a nice, feel-good kind of book, but it’s not very realistic in that way.

Also, I felt a bit too old to read about a 13-year-old boy’s first boyfriend. It didn’t help that they were really melodramatic about it all, either.

★★★

a cartoony avatar of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.