Black Horses for the King

Black Horses for the King

Anne McCaffrey

language: English

Publishing date: Jul 13, 2008

Words: 51793
Pages: 225

Description: Review Anne McCaffrey is back with this precious, well-researched yarn that follows a Celtic lad in service to King Arthur. Set in fifth-century Britain, McCaffrey's first historical novel for young adults rejects a fantastical, Hollywood treatment of King Arthur in favor of realism and solid storytelling. Take away the Round Table and the usual knights-in-shining-armor hoo-hah, and you're left with an engaging, endearing chapter from the life of Artos, *Comes Britannorum*, a young war leader in search of horses strong enough to carry his armored warriors into battle against the savage Saxons. The story is told through the eyes of polite, earnest young do-gooder Galwyn Varianus, who has fled the service of his cruel, brutish, seafaring uncle to take up with the charismatic Artos. Galwyn quickly proves his value with his affinity for languages and horses, and he accompanies Artos and the *Companions* (proto-Knights of the Round Table) as they execute their plan: acquiring and then breeding a handful of fabled *Libyans*, the horses of the book's title, and then mastering and disseminating the knowledge of horseshoe-making. The action revolves around Galwyn's role in this plan and never rises above the pace of, say, an after-school special. But rich details, McCaffrey's obvious love of the subject matter, and involving characters go a long way to make up for the story's slow trot. (In particular, you'll find yourself waiting eagerly for the comeuppance of one character, a sneering rider named Iswy, Goofus to Galwyn's Gallant.) *--Paul Hughes From Publishers Weekly McCaffrey steps out of her niche as a Hugo and Nebula award-winning fantasy writer to tackle her first historical novel for young adults, retelling the Arthurian legend-minus the Round Table, Guinevere and Merlin-through the eyes of Galwyn Varianus. A Roman Celtic youth, Galwyn helps the future king of Britain, known here as Lord Artos, acquire the legendary Black Horses of his legions. The author's tender reverence for equine history (she raises horses in Ireland) makes for vivid descriptions of frightened steeds in the hold of a ship across the English Channel; it also allows an undue amount of horsey jargon. A teenage boy interested exclusively in horseshoes rings not quite true, yet the well-drawn story moves along at a compelling trot, climaxing in a battle in which horses help Lord Artos reclaim Britain for future mad cows and Englishmen. Ages 12-up. Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.