Home > Categories > Books > Kids - General > When Empire Calls review
It's early days in the Boer War and the small farming community of Huia is gripped by patriotic fervour.
Men, young and old, are eager to join up and head overseas to fight the 'evil scoundrel folk in Africa who opposed the British Empire and had to be taught a lesson'.
When his elder two brothers join up, James is left to help his father run the family farm. He also helps old Croaky Fred in the local village store, a bad tempered old grump who has nothing to say about war.
Through his brother Edward's letters, James learns about the horrors of war - but will his brothers come home?
When I picked up this book I thought it was my first introduction to the author Ken Catran. I had heard some stuff about him, in particular that he was a local. But I didn't realise he actually had a hand in many of the children's tv series I grew up with, like Children of the Dog Star.
It took me a while to read this, because it looked like a classic boy's adventure story with the glory of war trumpeting out from the cover. I wish I had just opened it and started it. This book is about war, and covers a few wars inside but it largely focussed on the Second Boer War.
I knew nothing of this period in our history. So this book was really interesting to me as a historic buff. I knew a little about the New Zealand Wars which they talk about and quite a bit about WWI and WWII. I loved the way Catran covered the feelings of the people in that generation. I appreciated that he eased us into the world, telling us that the way the characters think will be very different to how we think now.
I enjoyed the history and the way he really asked you to think about the subject. This is not a book about glory. Its anti-war, as most war stories end up. Its a good style of book for me though. It has letters and journal entries through-out and I love that sort of thing. It held my attention and I kept coming back to it until it was finished in less than a day.
I could easily re-read this book. I think the price is a little steep compared to the My Story series of books. This book would suit anyone who likes that style of book though, boys and girls alike.
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