Rummanah Aasi
 Trapped in a rigid hierarchy where girls learn magic and boys train as knights, twelve-year-old nonbinary Callie, who dreams of becoming a knight, and their new friends find themselves embedded in an ancient war, but in order to defeat the threats outside the kingdom they must first defeat the bigotry within.

Review: Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston is a character driven fantasy that has lots to unpack. I have been familiar with stories in which female characters want to become a knight, but I have yet encountered a knight who is nonbinary until now and it is wonderful to see. 
 Callie dreams of becoming a knight for the court of Helston. Their father is a renowned retired knight and former champion to the Hestion king, who has mysteriously vanished, and is called upon to train the crown prince for an upcoming tournament and take his place as future ruler of Helston. After spending years at home and not seen for who they are, Callie joins their father in pursuit of adventure and achieving their dream.
  Helston is your typical fantasy kingdom where not falling within its strict gender norms and being different ostracizes members of its realm. In Helston magic-less knights are trained to fight and ladies are expected to be submissive, quiet, and use their magic for pretty, useless things. Callie quickly realizes that she is bound to make enemies and chaff against the rigid rules. Despite constantly misgendered, and confined to their chamber by the odious Lord Chancellor Peran, Callie secretly continues to train as a squire. She also makes friendls with the nervous Prince Willow and Peran's firey and defiant daughter Elowen.
  This debut novel succeeds in its exploration of identity in all aspects of the main cast of characters. I really loved how Callie continues to ask questions about why things are the way they are and how can people be so compliant and not do anything when there is clearly a problem. The plot, however, is slow paced and not much happens in the book. Younger readers who want action and adventure over character development may be disappointed. I was also a bit surprised on how dark the book gets with its discussion of abuse, which mainly takes place off the page, but is still very present. Nonetheless I really liked the characters and  the discussion of found family. I am looking forward to see what adventures Callie and their crew find in later books. I truly feel like the author is just getting started. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is misusing of the main character's pronouns and mentions of emotional and physical abuse. Recommended for Grades 5 and up. 

If you like this book try: Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag, Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce
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