The Golden Spark “recommended … but not for very young or sensitive readers”

“Going into the book with very limited horse knowledge, I feel that I learned quite a bit about horses, and have gained a greater appreciation for their place in history. I enjoyed reading about how the horses were cared for on the Spaniard ships, the techniques used to train them in 17th century Europe, and what a fox hunt would actually be like.” – LibraryThing Early Reviewer

The Golden Spark, Book #2 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy, participated in the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program — the following is a pre-publication review:

LibraryThing Early Reviewer “wnk1029″  4 Stars

I recently read The Golden Spark as part of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers program. Since this was the second of the series, I checked out the first book from my local library, with the vague knowledge that it was about horses and time-travel. I enjoy reading about time travel; horses, not particularly. I was, however, willing to give it a chance.

Though the second book could possibly stand alone, I was glad I had read the first one and would recommend it to anyone picking up The Golden Spark. It tells the backstory of the heroine, Meagan, who is involuntarily being transported through time by her horse who just happens to be a Great Horse–a reincarnation of the very first horse ever created, who is actually an angel whose job it is to bring humanity back to the Garden of Eden. This part of the story is a bit complicated, but since the book is more about history than the mythological/spiritual aspect, it ends up not really playing a huge role in this book except as the means of transportation from era to era.

In this book, Meagan visits Mexico circa 1519 as a groom to Cortes’s horse. This section is violent and frightening, definitely intended for a more mature audience, but an interesting, historical read nonetheless. Meagan’s next stop is 1666 England & France, where she becomes a handmaiden and stable hand in King Louis XIV’s court at Versailles, followed by 1816 England, where she is taken into the quiet home of a country farmer and his family.

The horses are the driving force of each of these eras, and Meagan’s experiences revolve around their care, training, and the ways in which people used the horses in each of these time periods. Going into the book with very limited horse knowledge, I feel that I learned quite a bit about horses, and have gained a greater appreciation for their place in history. I enjoyed reading about how the horses were cared for on the Spaniard ships, the techniques used to train them in 17th century Europe, and what a fox hunt would actually be like.

The downsides? The books tend to read more like a series of novellas rather than one continuous book. Each jump through time seems to break into what could essentially be a stand-alone story. Though the heroine occasionally will mentally refer back to previous people she’s met in her travels, it isn’t really clear what she’s learning from these experiences. In each era, she has the advantage of more modern knowledge of horses and their care, which helps her make a place for herself in each society, but doesn’t really add anything to her character’s development or growth — she remains the same Meagan who gets by because she knows more about horses than anyone else around her.

I would definitely recommend this series to those interested in exploring history from a different perspective, as well as those who already have a love of horses. Due to the violence in the first book, as well as in the first section of this second one, I would hesitate to recommend the book to younger or more sensitive readers, though the language is very readable and should be able to be handled by those with middle-school vocabulary and comprehension skills.

I’m looking forward to reading the third book when it comes out; I can’t wait to see how Meagan’s travels come to a close and get some answers to some of the questions that are still unanswered!

» See original review on LibraryThing

graphic image of knight chesspieceThe Golden Spark is the 2nd book of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy, an award winning time-travel adventure through history—on horseback! The story follows the journey of a modern horsewoman lost in the distant past.

The trilogy books have won multiple national awards including the 2009 Eric Hoffer Award for best Young Adult Fiction, and the 2010 Mom’s Choice Award for best family-friendly Young Adult Fantasy.

Further information about this unique ‘creative non-fiction’ novel can be found at TheGreatHorse.com.

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