Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston: Sir Callie’s 5 Rules of Knighthood

If you love empowering, action-packed high-fantasy reads filled with medieval vibes, sword-fights, dragons, and magic, Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston by Esme Symes-Smith is about to become your new favorite book series!

Callie has always known their calling – they want to train in the royal capital of Helston to become a knight like their dad. But in Helston, it’s frowned upon to be different, and their kingdom is walled off from the rest of the world, meaning their outdated worldviews are the only ones that most people know. Worst of all, they enforce strict laws preventing Callie from following their dreams: only boys can become knights, and only girls can practice magic. But Callie isn’t either, and they aren’t going to let gender rules stand in their way!

When Callie’s father, the former king’s champion, is summoned back to Helston to train a struggling crown prince for an upcoming tournament, Callie jumps at the opportunity to prove their worth to Helston’s great and powerful and joins their dad to show everyone what they’re made of. The only problem? Everyone, including their mom, only sees a girl when they look at Callie.

Book cover for Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston

In a magical medieval world filled with dragons, shape-shifters, and witches, a twelve-year-old nonbinary hopeful knight battles for the heart of their kingdom. A thrilling middle-grade series opener that explores identity and gender amid sword fights and magic, and proves anyone can be a hero.

When their ex-hero dad is summoned back to the royal capital of Helston to train a hopeless crown prince, Callie lunges at the opportunity to finally prove themself worthy to the kingdom’s “great and powerful.” Except the intolerant great and powerful look at nonbinary Callie and only see girl. But Callie has always known exactly what they want to be, and they’re not about to let anything stand in their way.

Trapped in Helston’s rigid hierarchy where girls learn magic and boys train as knights, Callie discovers they aren’t alone—there’s Elowen, the chancellor’s brilliant daughter, whose unparalleled power is being stifled; Edwyn, Elowen’s twin brother desperate to win his father’s approval; and Willow, the crown prince who was never meant to be king.

In this start to an epic series packed with action, humor, and heart, Callie and their new friends quickly find themselves embedded in an ancient war—and their only hope to defeat the threats outside the kingdom lies in first defeating the bigotry within.

Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston
AUTHOR: Esme Symes-Smith
PUBLISHER: Labyrinth Road
DATE: November 8, 2022

Thankfully, on their journey, Callie begins to discover that they’re not the only one who feels misunderstood and out of place in Helston and quickly bands together with a brilliant group of friends who are all equally determined to shake up the intolerant views of the kingdom and show the world what they’re truly made of. Unfortunately, this fight won’t be easy, especially after they end up embedded in an ancient war and are the realm’s only hope of defeating the dangerous dragons and vengeful witches outside the kingdom.

If you love inspiring reads about being your most authentic self, fighting for what you believe in, and smashing the status quo, you’ll absolutely love this read, and it’ll leave you counting down the days until Callie’s next adventure.

Want to know more about Callie’s courageous spirit and incredible determination? Author Esme Symes-Smith is taking readers beyond the pages and sharing a peek into Callie’s mind and their 5 Rules of Knighthood that also double as great mantras to bring into your own everyday adventures!

Author Esme Symes-Smith Shares Sir Callie’s Five Rules of Knighthood:

So these aren’t the official rules or anything. The official rules are way outdated and kind of defeat the actual point. Stuff like “always obey” and “live for king and crown,” which completely disregard circumstances like “What if the people you’re supposed to obey are wrong?” and “What if the king is a bad person?” You know, stuff that’s not black and white. These are my rules:

Rule #1 – Be Good:

I know what you’re thinking: “Good and Callie don’t really go together,” and that’s mostly true, as far as good being a grown-up’s definition of obedient. But deep down, “good” means striving to be your best self, outside of everyone else. Like, be a good person because it’s the right thing to do, not because you’re scared or ambitious or trying to get something out of it or trying to make folks like you.

Rule #2 – Be Kind:

It can be hard to be kind. Some people find it easy, but I don’t. I have to work at it, to stop assuming everyone around me means harm and put down the anger that I’ve been carrying around for ages. Being kind means allowing for mistakes, in yourself and other people. No one’s perfect and everyone’s learning. I used to think kindness equals weakness, but that’s not true. Being kind is another way of being brave, especially when you’ve been hurt and could just as easily approach everyone like they’re an enemy. 

Being kind means seeing the good in others, even if it’s hidden down deep.

Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston

Rule #3: Be Loud:

I’m really good at this one. 

Being loud is the opposite of keeping quiet. That might seem obvious, but I’ll say it anyway. If you witness injustice, say something. If the rules are wrong, say something. If the people in power are abusing it, say something. Just because grown-ups have authority doesn’t mean they’re right. Most people find it hard to be loud, and I get it. It’s scary. It can be dangerous. But the moment they see someone else be loud and say something, it gets a little easier to find their voice. If everyone keeps quiet, they’ll just think they’re the only ones thinking it. And that’s hardly ever true. 

It’s easier to fight battles together than on your own.

Rule #4 – Get Angry:

This goes hand in hand with being loud, but I still think it’s a different thing. 

Most grown-ups will tell you that anger is something you should stifle, that anger is ugly and bad.

But that’s not true. 

Anger is a big feeling that doesn’t go away just because someone tells you to be quiet about it. Anger means something isn’t right, things aren’t okay, and something needs to change. 

All your feelings are important—the ones people call “good” and the ones people call “bad.” It’s important to understand your different parts and see yourself as a whole, even if that whole is messy and imperfect. Shutting down bits of yourself like anger will make those bits grow bigger until they explode. 

It’s okay to be angry. 

You have to remember, though: anger is like a sword. It’s sharp and dangerous, and when wielded wrong, it does more harm than good. Just like a sword, you have to be careful and thoughtful, and only strike when your intentions are true.

Rule #5 – Be Brave:

This is the most obvious knightly quality, and maybe the scariest one too. 

Being brave is really hard because being brave means being scared and doing it anyway. Brave comes in as many shapes and sizes as people do, and it’s not all about fighting dragons. It means digging deep into your biggest fears and saying, “I won’t let you beat me.” It means standing up for yourself and for folks who might not be as brave as you, or who haven’t learned how yet. Sometimes brave means confronting the bullies picking on your friends, and sometimes brave just means getting dressed and leaving your bedroom. 

Brave can be big, and brave can be small. 

You don’t need a sword or a shield or a horse to be a knight. You just need something to believe in, something worth fighting for, and the courage to speak up.


LIFE LESSONS: We’re dishing on the 3 life lessons we learned from the empowering new graphic novel, Frizzy!
💖RESILENT ROVERS: Author Jasmine Warga shares the 5 things she learned while writing A Rover’s Story!
FIERCE READS: Find out why we think Safia is totally fierce in our spotlight on My Aunt is a Monster!

Previous Post Next Post