Book I: Riding with Genghis Khan

ECLIPSED BY SHADOW | 'The Legend of the Great Horse' trilogy book cover (90x135px)

This excerpt is from Eclipsed by Shadow, Book #1 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy, an adventure through history―on horseback.

The scene is set in 1240, Eastern Europe, when Meagan first discovers she is riding with the Mongolian army of Genghis Khan.

Hast thou given the horse strength?
Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?

– Holy Bible, Job 39:19-24

Meagan sensed excitement in the camp. An undercurrent ran through the people and the horses pranced nervously. Throwing her saddle pad over Targa, she saw something had been added: an odd-looking pole now hung from a loop of leather on her saddle. Then she saw the sharp point and realized she had been given a spear.

ource: The ArtScience Museum	Photo: William Cho / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0Leaders rode through the lines of horses, each with a string of knives hanging from one arm. Meagan took one and examined it, confused. The others were sliding theirs into belt pouches. It seemed a dangerous place to carry a knife, but she did the same.

Horn answered horn throughout the camps. A rippling change went through the horse nation. The few not yet mounted swung aboard. Meagan’s group moved out. The camp leaders rode ahead, each holding a blazing torch.

The pitch of the horns was changing, signaling back and forth down the black mass of horsemen covering the plain. The tight lines of the nomads were dissolving into chaos, melting and running in streaks. Horses were breaking from easy canters into full gallops. When the call reached Meagan’s group, Targa sprang forward, her legs stretching in exhilaration of the run.

One in a sea of horsemen, Meagan saw buildings of a settlement ahead. Tendrils of smoke rose pale against the clear sky …

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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The End of Cavalry

 Into the dark cover image

The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history―on horseback. Into the Dark (Book #3) was named to the Midwest Book Review Bookwatch and listed as a Highlighted Title by the Independent Book Publishers Associate (IBPA).

In this excerpt, Meagan finds herself on a World War II battlefield during an attack…

Thou shalt be favored above all other creatures, for to thee shall accrue the love of the master of the earth.

—attributed to the Koran

The ground twisted and heaved. A swath of sand lifted and fell to earth in the near distance. Curtains of spray rose in lines from the earth. Aircraft seared the sky, flying low with black trails following, like the rising dust of other marauders from long ago.

Into the Dark (bookcover) WWII cavalry horseIn all directions Meagan saw multicolored forms, misshapen and sprawled, but her eyes would not focus, could not comprehend the thousand squirming remains of a massacre. Shapes of animals—both man and horse—lay crushed and struggling, or else staggered blindly across acres of death.

Screaming came from the sky and Meagan instinctively ducked lower as mechanical whines grew and planes dived, releasing packages to detonate in flashes and thunder around her. On the horizon, a line of gray tanks dipped and bobbed over uneven ground as they came. Her thoughts flashed to another battlefield, another time … the chariots were coming

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The Great Horse, Rafi

The Great Horse, Rafi “Meagan found herself growing angry; no one seemed to know how to care for the animal properly. She wanted to brush the horse’s unkempt coat, to oil his cracked hooves. Her eyes fell to a plaque. It was a metal sign with raised letters, fixed to a podium before the plexiglass stage…” – Into the Dark (excerpt)

 Into the dark cover image

The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history―on horseback. Into the Dark (Book #3 of the Legend of the Great Horse trilogy) was honored as a Bookwatch Selection for Young Adult Fantasy.

In this excerpt, Meagan has stumbled into a strange, horseless world …

“God forbid I should go to a Heaven where there are no horses.”

—R.B. Cunningham-Graham (1852-1936)
‘Rafi’ from Into the Dark by John Royce - Artwork by Marti Adrian | (c) 2012 Micron Press

Meagan ignored the speech around her as she moved through the audience. She could see the top of a clear plexiglass wall above the heads of the crowd, but it wasn’t until moving closer that she saw it encircled a platform of artificial turf—upon which stood a living horse.

“Look!” hooted a spectator. “How would you like to clean up after that, honey?”

“I want to pet it!”

“No dear. It’s cruel to them.”

The manure had not been cleaned from underneath the horse, and there were no water buckets or haynets visible. The animal’s smooth gray coat had lumps of scurf from poor grooming and his halter was fitted too tight. Meagan recognized the horse’s Arabian breed by the dished profile of his diamond head and the long tail which draped from his level croup. The animal’s muzzle narrowed to a mouth that could almost “fit in a teacup.” Dark, expressive eyes turned their faraway gaze to Meagan. The Great Horse, Rafi.

The gray stallion was held between handlers in upbeat yellow shirts, standing before a small crowd of helpers wearing matching green Animal Hero t-shirts. Meagan found herself growing angry; no one seemed to know how to care for the animal properly. She wanted to brush the horse’s unkempt coat, to oil his cracked hooves.

Her eyes fell to a plaque. It was a metal sign with raised letters, fixed to a podium before the plexiglass stage…

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“To Fly without Wings”

Into the Dark - bookcover image of Stroller “The stadium erupted in cheers when the pony trotted out before the crowd. Programs fluttered onto the arena floor as the crowd’s appreciation drowned the loudspeakers’ sound. The pony looked around the filled stadium, seeming not to understand what all the fuss was about.” – Into the Dark (excerpt) Book #3 of The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy

 Into the dark cover image

The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history―on horseback. Into the Dark (Book #3 of the Legend of the Great Horse trilogy) was honored as a Bookwatch Selection for Young Adult Fantasy.

In this excerpt, Meagan is coming close to her time … and finds herself at the 1968 Mexico Olympics.

When God created the horse,
He said to His new creation:
“Oh, Horse, I have made thee as no other.
Thou shalt fly without wings
and conquer without swords.”

—attributed to the Koran

Into the Dark - bookcover image of StrollerExcitement rippled through the in-gate. Every head was turned to the entry corridor, watching a young woman in a black hunt cap. Her small, pale face could barely be seen over the spectators. As she glided forward, her horse’s tiny dark ears became visible. Meagan, standing beside the in-gate, saw the girl was not riding a horse at all, but a pony. The saddle pad bore the flag of Great Britain. These were the Individual Show Jumping medalists.

“De Gran Bretaña, Marion Coakes y—Stroller!”

Meagan knew of this pony, a famous jumper of the twentieth century. He was Marion Coakes’ childhood mount, a pony talented enough to outjump every full-sized horse in the world on one occasion or another. Something else Meagan remembered: Stroller’s tail had been in constant danger of being plucked bare by souvenir seekers …

There was doubt the brave pony could handle the huge fences, but Marion and Stroller were simply too popular with the public to leave off the Jumping team for Great Britain.

Proving doubts wrong, the pair had won the Silver medal, putting in one of only two clean rounds of the entire competition. This insured a spot in the British line-up for the final event of the 1968 Games now in progress: the Team Jumping.

The stadium erupted in cheers when the pony trotted out before the crowd. Programs fluttered onto the arena floor as the crowd’s appreciation drowned the loudspeakers’ sound. The pony looked around the filled stadium, seeming not to understand what all the fuss was about.

Perhaps his eye stopped on Meagan before he walked on … perhaps it was only her imagination. Not since her Mongolian mount Targa had she known a Great Pony. “Good luck,” she whispered.

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