Kilgore Gagarin | Amazon Vine Voice
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 trilogy) 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!