Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Read in 2017 - 33: Gefangen in der belagerten Stadt

"Gefangen in der belagerten Stadt"
by Alfred Bekker

The title of this book means "Trapped (or captured) in the Besieged Town".
It is a book aimed at children of about 9 - 12 years with an interest in history and all things Knights.
Set in and around a medieval castle and town, it tells the story of two boys of noble descent who help a poor peasant boy - and ultimately an entire region by stopping a war.

In medieval times, it was the custom for noble families to send their young sons to other aristocratic families, in order for them to be educated as knights.
The education took years, and to become a knight, a boy had to start as a humble page first, serving his master, the family and guest.
Riding and fighting were also part of the education, and by being always around their masters and other important people, such boys learnt a lot about politics and what was going on in their vicinity.

The two boys who become the heroes of this story are friends, serving at the same castle.
One day they witness a young peasant boy being brought to the castle and locked up in the dungeon.
They enquire about his crime and learn that all the boy did was trying to get to the nearest town, where he hoped to find someone who would take him on as an apprentice.
He saw this as the only means to escape a very sad (and probably short) life as one of many children of a poor family.

But... in those days, one could not simply decide where one wanted to live and what one wanted to do for a living.
Peasants were as much the property of their lords as the land they worked, and if permission to move elsewhere was not given, acting against this was considered a crime.

One of the page boys is sent to bring the "criminal" his food, and after he has talked and listened to him for some time, he decides to help. The peasant boy does indeed manage to escape, but the two page boys' attention is soon directed towards something else: War!

The nearby town ("near" was relative in those days, when most people had only their feet for transport, or a cart and horse, if they were lucky) comes under siege when the townspeople demand more rights to administer their own affairs.
The page boys' lord has no choice but to support his war-lusty count, and all the able-bodied men have to go with him.
Soon, the town is besieged, but nobody really wants that war, except for the count.

One night, our page boys manage to find their way into the besieged town - but now they are trapped inside...
They meet with the peasant boy, and then one of them has a great idea how to avoid the war without making the count lose his honour.

This made quite a change from most other books I have been reading lately. It was the second book in German that I have read this year, I think.
It is clearly aimed at young readers with plenty of things explained which would not be necessary for adults, but I enjoy history and other subjects presented in a way that is easy to understand.
I liked the story, and the typos were not too bad (especially not for a free ebook).


  1. Amazon has several titles by this author, but only in German....It reminds me of some books I loved when I was in grade school, and still have copies of. They were Page Boy for King Arthur and Squire for King Arthur....I also loved and still do, The Song of the Gargoyle, more of a fantasy by set in the middle ages (of a sort).

    1. Yes, I've seen Arthur Bekker's other books on Amazon but at the moment have not downloaded any of them.