I think this has just become one of my favorite Card stories (note: like Stonefather, this is NOT a novel, but another novella). I’m sure part of the interest stemmed from the religious angle. Many people of many differing faiths will see their religion in it, but there were so many of my own beliefs twisted and made into frights that I felt Card was speaking directly to me. I’m sure another part was that I served my LDS mission in the Netherlands and the story revolves around a Dutch tradition. And it didn’t hurt that I listened to the audio version read by Scott Brick and Stefan Rudnicki. But there was more to it than that. In the end, it was the saving of the main character, Zeck Morgan, that made me care.
Because I should be working on my novel now, I’m going to simply quote the summary from Publisher’s Weekly review so you get an idea of what it’s about: “When Zeck Morgan, the young son of a puritanical minister, qualifies for admission into the International Fleet’s Battle School, he is brought to the school against his will. Citing his pacifist religious beliefs, Zeck refuses to participate in any simulated war games, but when he sees a Dutch student give a friend a small present in celebration of Sinterklaas Day, he [thinks he sees a way to be sent home].”
Okay, so I shortened the PW summary. I did so because this isn’t about religious holidays, as their summary leads you to believe. It’s about something far more important, and Card does a great job writing about it.