Book II: Horse Ahoy!

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This excerpt is from The Golden Spark, Book #2 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy, an adventure through history―on horseback.

The year is 1519 and the Conquistadors are bringing horses to shore … from where they have been absent for many thousands of years.

“Once more upon the water,
yet once more!
And the waves bound beneath me as a steed that knows his rider!”

—Lord Byron (1788-1824)

WITH A GIANT splash, the water closed over the horse’s head and sprayed against the side of the ship. Meagan gritted her teeth: it was not getting any easier to watch. Each time she had finally convinced herself the horse had drowned in the ocean, the animal’s head popped up, mane and forelock plastered back like a mythological beast rising from the sea. Giving a spraying blast to clear its nostrils, the horse would whinny and turn to shore. A cheer went up from the men and the horse was away.

For two days the Spaniards had held the town. Native emissaries visited, alternating with scouting parties in full war paint. Dark, slinking figures moved everywhere. And now came the call for the horses.

A splash signaled another horse departing for New Spain. Meagan walked down the line of stalls to El Morzillo. She patted the black horse, pushing him away as he nudged for treats. His ears had been stopped with cotton and his tail braided to reduce the drag of the water.

Meagan moved slowly to avoid startling the skittish stallion. It seemed strange to take a finely bred horse out of a lavish stall and unceremoniously toss him into the ocean, but the Spaniards did exactly that, and each horse had survived the trip and was now bucking and running across the beach.

The Golden Spark (Book #2 of the Legend of the Great Horse trilogy) won the 2011 Written Arts Awards for best Science Fiction/Fantasy.

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Eclipsed by Shadow - Book #1 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy - Bookcover (straight-on, drop shadow) 142px by 203 px
The Golden Spark - Book #2 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy - Bookcover
Into the Dark - Book #3 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy - Bookcover (straight-on, drop shadow) 142px by 203 px

The Captain’s Orders

“I am a priest, child. What are they going to do? They have gotten themselves into a corner here on this beach, and chances are they will need me to get out, so to speak.” …

Image of parchment-like background with the words: "A modern teen sails on the expedition of Spanish Conquistador Cortés that conquered Mexico with 13 horses..."“After God, we owe it to the horses.”

—Diego Duran (1495-1579), conquistador led by Hernán Cortés in conquest of the Aztec empire

“My Brother has not heard the Captain’s orders. That can be the only explanation.” An uncomfortable moment passed as the men contemplated each other. “Unless his wine has made him forgetful.”

“The flesh is weak, Padre Giaollo. I meant nothing.”

“The English-speaking woman is to be left alone by strict order of the Captain. You are a brave man.”

“No! No, Padre Giaollo. Allow me to repent.”

“Oh, is it now understood?”

“Yes, yes! And I will watch carefully for signs of disobedience in the others. I will be vigilant, Padre Giaollo.”

“Then I will say nothing of it. Perhaps, Brother, this time could be used in prayer?”

“Yes, of course.” Bowing his head, the priest turned to go.

“Wait there, my Brother! Spirits only dull the mind.” Macario held out his hand, and the first priest reluctantly placed the bottle into it. “To temperance, amigo!” Macario toasted him, and upended the bottle in a swig.

“God be with you, Padre Giaollo.”

“And also with you. Good night.” Macario offered the bottle to Meagan.

“Thank you, but no,” Meagan refused politely.

“The ‘thank you’ is accepted, the ‘no’ is not. It is a sin to drink alone, señorita, and I am a man of God. Now hold up your glass.”

Meagan consented and sipped the fiery liquid. “You speak English well, Padre Giaollo.”

“Macario! Please, call me Macario! Why would I not speak English, por Dios? It has all the good words and twice the bad! By my lights, I cannot understand why anyone speaks anything else.”

“But the ship and the soldiers, aren’t they Spanish?”

“As the days are hot, hang their mothers … but not I. I am Italian by birth, schooled in Oxford before I joined the seminary.” He spit onto the beach. “Rot all Spaniards!” he shouted, waiting for the chorus of returned insults. “Foul devils,” he said, turning back to Meagan with a grimace. “They will rule the world, of course.”

“Why are you here?”

“The Church likes Her lofty hand in others’ affairs, and She can be a persuasive wench. And you? From England, have you said?”

“No, not really.”

“France, then? You could be French. Ah, sweet Avignon, those blasphemers … begging your pardon if it offends, of course.” Macario took a swig and shouted, “God hates all Spanish and the dogs they lie with!” Catcalls were flung back. “They are all going to Hell,” he said offhand, listening to the returning curses.

“Excuse me, but they do not seem the kind of men one provokes.”

“I am a priest, child. What are they going to do? They have gotten themselves into a corner here on this beach, and chances are they will need me to get out…”

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The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history … the above excerpt is from the chapter “Dragons” set in 1519 AD during the invasion of Mexico. Meagan is an unwilling passenger aboard a Conquistador’s ship …

The Golden Spark (Book #2 of the Legend of the Great Horse trilogy) won the 2011 Written Arts Awards for best Science Fiction/Fantasy.

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A Ship in Trouble

The opening scene from The Golden Spark (Book #2 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy … after Meagan escaped a medieval mob at the end of Book #1: Eclipsed by Shadow.

The opening scene from The Golden Spark, Book #2 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy … set in 1519 AD.

Appleton's ColumbusTHE FLOOR ROLLED sharply and Meagan fell hard against a wall. A tide of cold water sloshed over her feet. All around in the darkness were piercing screams of horses and the thudding concussion of hooves. The floor rolled the other way and Meagan felt herself sliding. She leaned to stay against the wall, but there was nothing to hold.

Putting a hand out in front of her, she touched the soft hair of an equine coat. The tilt of the floor pressed her against the horse as saltwater and the smell of fish washed over her. Meagan felt for mane and grasped the hair tightly. The animal slipped and scrambled as the floor rose to its steepest before beginning to roll back. The horse’s body shook with a frightened whinny.

“Easy there, that’s a good horse.” Meagan felt around in the dark. The lead rope was tied to a heavy iron ring. She grasped it as the floor rolled past level and started its new tilt. She had moved again—but this time the sensation of flying had been replaced by a simple melt into this new place. What were the words she had said? “Promise, please take me home,” she said to the air, and repeated it, but there was no response …

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The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history … the above excerpt is from the chapter “Dragons” set in 1519 AD during the invasion of Mexico. The section does contain historical portrayals that, while accurate, may not be enjoyed by young or sensitive readers.

The Golden Spark (Book #2) won the 2011 Written Arts Awards for best Science Fiction/Fantasy.

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#12 – The story of El Morzillo

“Cortés was forced to leave his prized stallion behind with natives who knew nothing of horses. They fed him only meat and wine until the poor animal wasted away and died. Frightened of Cortez’s wrath, the natives made an enormous statue of the horse to worship.” —excerpted from Eclipsed by Shadow (Book #1 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy

Inside Mrs. Bridgestone’s strange library of Great Horses …

Meagan moved respectfully to an onyx sculpture beside the painting. The work was of a horse sitting on his haunches with both forelegs stretched in front of him. “Who is this?”

“That was the Great Horse El Morzillo, dear, the mount the Spanish conquistador Cortés rode to conquer Mexico.

“Cortés was forced to leave his prized stallion behind with natives who knew nothing of horses. They fed him only meat and wine until the poor animal wasted away and died. Frightened of Cortez’s wrath, the natives made an enormous statue of the horse to worship.

“When missionaries returned—I want to say Franciscans—they threw the statue into the lake surrounding his temple. It is said El Morzillo looks up from the bottom of that lake, still waiting for his master’s return.”

The above excerpt is from “Home,” the 1st section of Eclipsed by Shadow, and is set in modern-day California. (p. 51 Hbk)

The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history … each section is from a different time period.

Eclipsed by Shadow (Book #1 of the trilogy) won national awards including the Eric Hoffer Award for best Young Adult Fiction, and the Mom’s Choice Award for best family-friendly Young Adult Fantasy.

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