The Golden Spark : review by Don Sloan

The following review of The Golden Spark was given by reviewer Don Sloan, a retired journalist turned full-time Indie book reviewer who posted on the site justfreeandbargainbooks. (not a paid review!)

The review is written in narrative “genre-based” format, which offers a unique summary of the story while engaging the reader. Book review space has been lost from most newspapers, but promising new work by reviewers are a part of independent publishing’s innovation in how readers can find their best books:

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quotation markI won’t spoil the ending by revealing whether or not Meagan gets any closer to her true home in the present day, but suffice to say, there’s still plenty of adventure for her before the end of The Golden Spark.

These stories are so well-written, and expertly edited, they are a pleasure to read. Obviously, the author is himself an experienced horseman, and that intricate knowledge of horses, their habits, and the great love he has for them shines through on every page.

Five stars for The Golden Spark, and eager anticipation for the third book in the Great Horse Trilogy.— Don Sloan, justfreeandbargainbooks

Ramblings of a Coffee-Addicted Writer: The Golden Spark is a “Great Epic!”

The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is unlike any other horse series written for young adults. Just like book one, the author has gone to great lengths to add historical accuracies to this fantasy tale. Young readers will find the time traveling horse to be interesting, but there is so much more to young Meagan’s quest.—Billy Burgess, Ramblings of a Coffee-Addicted Writer

The following is a new review of The Golden Spark by Billy Burgess of the book blog, Ramblings of a Coffee-Addicted Writer:

Ramblings of a Coffee-Addicted Writer | Billy Burgess

Picking up where book one left off, we find Meagan and her magical horse, Promise, barely escaping being executed for witchcraft in 1616 Western Europe.

Promise takes her back in time, this time landing on a ship, but not just any ship. They land on the Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes’s ship in the year 1519 where Meagan becomes in charge of taking care of the captain’s horse. Then, Promise takes her to the court of Louis XIV of France, the Sun King, where she poses as a stable-hand. Last, the Great Horse takes Meagan to Regency, England in 1816.

The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is unlike any other horse series written for young adults. Just like book one, the author has gone to great lengths to add historical accuracies to this fantasy tale. Young readers will find the time traveling horse to be interesting, but there is so much more to young Meagan’s quest. You will learn about the hardships that horses went through in each period that Meagan visits. In addition, you will learn fun fact about historical figures like Louis XIV and Hernan Cortes.

There are some scenes of violence in The Golden Spark especially during the Spaniards’ battle with the Aztecs, that some horse lovers may not care for, but as I said, the author is going for historical accuracies.

I would have to say my favorite part of the book was the amazing descriptions of the foxhunt during Meagan’s visit to England. Both fantasy and history readers will enjoy reading about The Great Horse. I recommend it to everyone.

» See original review online

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 2012 Written Arts Award for The Golden Spark in Science Fiction/Fantasy. Book I of the trilogy, Eclipsed by Shadow, won 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.

Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer: The Golden Spark “Clothed with Thunder”

Book II of The Legend of the Great Horse continues John Royce’s sweeping historical fantasy about horses and horsemanship, and I am very much looking forward to learning why 16-year-old Meagan Roberts was flung backward into time. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to label this trilogy as a work of juvenile fiction. It is much more than that.—E.A. Lovitt, Amazon ‘Hall of Fame’ Top 100 Reviewer

The Golden Spark, Book #2 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy, by Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer E.A. Lovitt:

E. A. Lovitt |Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer 5-Star Review

“CLOTHED WITH THUNDER”

Book II of The Legend of the Great Horse continues John Royce’s sweeping historical fantasy about horses and horsemanship, and I am very much looking forward to learning why 16-year-old Meagan Roberts was flung backward into time. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to label this trilogy as a work of juvenile fiction. It is much more than that.

In this middle volume, Meagan travels to Mexico with Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro, the Spanish Conquistador who brought about the fall of the mighty Aztec Empire, partially through his employment of horses, which the Aztecs had never seen. Meagan wins the approval of the Spanish Captain by caring for his war stallion during a storm at sea.

Her next time-jump lands Meagan in the court of Louis XIV of France, the Sun King. His Manège du Grandes Ecuries du Château de Versailles (the Riding School of the Grand Stable of Versailles) influenced the development of equitation in 17th Century Europe. Although the author accurately portrays Louis XIV’s passion for elaborate equestrian performances, the King’s relationship with Meagan, who is posing as an English stable-hand, is scarcely believable. Although Louis spoke French, Latin, Spanish, and Italian, I don’t believe he ever learned English (he had no reason to), and he was an absolute monarch who distanced himself from ordinary people behind an impenetrable thicket of court etiquette. One had to be a nobleman just to empty the King’s chamber pot.

However, Meagan’s relationship with Nero, the high-strung dressage gelding is the highlight of this adventure in time. The horses are the true nobility in this book, not their sometimes cruel and ignorant masters.

John Royce saves the best for last: Meagan’s final time-jump in The Golden Spark lands her in with the family of a horse trainer in Regency England. The description of our heroine’s participation in a neck-or-nothing foxhunt is alive with the colors, scents, and sounds of a spectacle that has now been voted into extinction in the country of its origin. This author’s narrative is the next-best thing to actually saddling up and following the hounds.

See original review on Amazon.com

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.

Librarything ‘Early Reader’ “Very entertained…”

This is the first book I read by Royce and I have to say I was very entertained. Time Travel is my favorite genre, so I knew it would appeal to me on some level. However I would not have thought a book that helps you to understand the equestrian “how to’s” would be interesting. But I enjoyed it very much.—LibraryThing Early Reviewer

LibraryThing Early Reviewers - logoLibraryThing Early Review for The Golden Spark, Book 2 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy:

Library Thing Early Reviewer | jll112

This is the first book I read by Royce and I have to say I was very entertained. Time Travel is my favorite genre, so I knew it would appeal to me on some level. However I would not have thought a book that helps you to understand the equestrian “how to’s” would be interesting. But I enjoyed it very much.

This would make a good “Choose Your Own Adventure” book so you could determine when she jumps through time. This book made me recall a scripture in Job that talks about the strength, power and fearlessness of the horse:

“It laughs at dread, and is not terrified. Nor does it turn back on account of a sword.” Job 339:22

See 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.

Review of ‘The Golden Spark’: “My kids and I LOVED this book!”

THE GOLDEN SPARK, book 2 in The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy, opens with the last chapter of book 1 in the series, ECLIPSED BY SHADOW. It follows the adventures of a young horse-loving teenager, Meagan who is lost in history trying to find her way home to the 21st century.—Library Thing Early Reviewer

LibraryThing Early Reviewers - logoThe following is a LibraryThing Early Review for The Golden Spark, Book #2 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy:

 

Library Thing Early Reviewer | Mrs Renee

I was excited when I found out that I had won a copy of The Golden Spark to review. Many thanks to Library Thing and the Early Reviewers group for the opportunity to review this book!

The Golden Spark, book 2 in The Legend of the Great Horse series opens with the last chapter of book 1 in the series, Eclipsed by Shadow. It follows the adventures of a young horse-loving teenager, Meagan who is lost in history trying to find her way home to the 21st century.

Meagan’s first magical journey finds her waking up in a horse stall with a magnificent horse as a fierce storm is tossing the great ship to and fro. She soon finds out she is in Mexico around 1519 and she has only her love of horses and her 21st-century horse knowledge to help her as she struggles to get home.

History comes to life as her journey takes her from Mexico 1519 to Medieval Europe, Rome, the Black Sea and to 20,000 B.C. North America. With each stop Meagan searches for the Great Horse whom she believes is responsible for her time travels and is the only one who can help her find her way home.

My kids and I LOVED this book! It brings history to life and we sat on the edge of our seats while we read this book.

I do, however recommend reading these books in order as it was a bit difficult to follow along with the second book without having read the first one. I’m looking forward to reading book 1, Eclipsed by Shadow!

See the 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.

The Golden Spark “…appropriate for almost all ages”

I like John Royce’s writing because he manages to write historical fiction that includes not only good historical details, but also details about the history of domestic horses and the evolution of horse riding. Not only does he include a lot of facts about horses, he manages to make those facts interesting for people who are not really that interested in horses.—SusieBookworm, LibraryThing Early Reviewer

The following is a pre-publication review of The Golden Spark by LibraryThing Early Reviewer SusieBookworm.

Library Thing Early Reviewer | SusieBookworm

Just as good as the first Legend of the Great Horse book.

I like John Royce’s writing because he manages to write historical fiction that includes not only good historical details, but also details about the history of domestic horses and the evolution of horse riding. Not only does he include a lot of facts about horses, he manages to make those facts interesting for people who are not really that interested in horses.

Royce also keeps his books appropriate for almost all ages of readership: teenagers are able to get into and enjoy the books, yet they are still appropriate for much younger readers.

After traveling to prehistoric times, the Mongol invasions, medieval Europe, 1500s Mexico, 17th century France, and early 19th century England, it will be interesting to see where the Great Horse takes Meagan next.

See review on LibraryThing…

The Golden Spark is the 2nd book of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy, an intriguing and fun time-travel adventure through history — on horseback. (Published Spring 2011)

Book I: Eclipsed by Shadow won national awards including the Eric Hoffer Award for best Young Adult Fiction, and the 2010 Mom’s Choice Award for best family-friendly Young Adult Fantasy.

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.

5-Stars for “The Golden Spark”

Let me state at the outset that this is a rip-snorting tale and an overall fun read. The author is very proficient in his craft and there is little to quibble about the structure, pace, language, and overall writing of this book. I continue to be impressed with the quality of the writing and rhetoric.—Kilgore Gagarin, Amazon Vine Voice

Amazon Vine Voice reviewer Kilgore Gagarin gives 5 stars to The Golden Spark, Book #2 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy:

Amazon Vine Voice | Kilgore Gagarin

Second salvo in an excellent Young Adult series for horse afficionados

Let me state at the outset that this is a rip-snorting tale and an overall fun read. The author is very proficient in his craft and there is little to quibble about the structure, pace, language, and overall writing of this book. I continue to be impressed with the quality of the writing and rhetoric. I leave arguments over historical accuracy and the details of horsemanship to others.

The second in a planned three book series (The Legend of the Great Horse) continues to follow 16 year old Meagan Roberts through time as she is transported by the magic of the Great Horse. When last we saw our intrepid equestrienne, she, and her horse, were about to be executed for witchcraft in 1616 Western Europe. Escaping through time, Meagan finds herself transported to a ship captained by Spanish Conquistador, Hernan Cortes, in the year 1519. This section is reminiscent of some of the most violent parts of the first volume of the series (which is not a bad thing, but readers must understand that this is not a girl’s bucolic romp through time on the back of her winged horse). The use and impact of horses in the Spaniards’ battle (and slaughter) of the Aztecs gets this volume off to a stirring start. The author describes the scenes with neither condemnation nor approval. The conquest of the Aztecs is an historical fact, and Meagan, like us, is primarily an observer of the process.

The next two sections of the book find Meagan in France in 1666, then in England in 1816. In both cases, we see a less violent, more pedestrian look at the role of horses in the advancement of civilization. More time is spent on the societies of the time, primarily the integration of the horse in everyday life. Though less exciting than the opening section, the author continues to impress with fascinating details about horses and horsemanship. Being thoroughly ignorant in those areas, I found this to be continually interesting, to my surprise. As a child, I found Farley’s Black Stallion series to be thoroughly dull. Royce brings a detail, and supplies historic context, in a way that should be interesting to any reader. When next I have the chance to observe dressage I will bring with me a touch more understanding of the art, thanks to the author of this book.

Being the second volume in a series, I think this book can easily be read without having read the opening work (still recommended to do so). The historic segments easily stand alone as discrete stories of their time and place. Overall, this work contains a lot less violence than the first work, and is thus less problematically recommended for younger readers. The stirring fox hunt near the end of this installment probably won’t sit well with absolutist animal lovers, but the classic rendering of the rendering of the fox at the end of the hunt does not take place. Rather, the joy of riding raucously through the English countryside is the main focus.

I’m greatly looking forward to the eventual conclusion of this series, and expect that the trilogy will become at least a minor classic, if not a more respected work over time.

Tally ho!

Note: The book reviewer received a free review copy of “The Golden Spark” via LibraryThing’s “Early Reviewer” program. This review has been posted on that site as well.

» See original review online

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.