A Poet Gladiator

Horace rubbed his face and looked at the morning sky. His profile was clean and unblemished. With quiet conviction he recited, “And yet more bright shines out the Julian star, as moon outglows each lesser light…” – Eclipsed by Shadow (excerpt)

“The driver listens to no one. Fame has deafened his ears.” Horace stepped into the early morning sun. His marred face was ugly in the naked light and Meagan fought her urge to step back. He led her a short distance away from the gates and lowered his voice. “If you are planning to escape you will have no interference from me.”

“I am not, Horace, I promise. I just want to help the horses.” She saw his quizzical look and corrected herself. “Help the Emperor, I mean.”

“Good. Helping the Emperor cannot be wrong. It can even bring you freedom.” Puffed from sleep, the man’s pale gaze was unnerving. “You are different than other women, Meagan. I want to ask…” His voice became carefully impassive. “What will you do if you receive freedom? Will you go home?”

“I don’t know.” Quick tears formed which she wiped away. “Sometimes I don’t think so.”

Horace rubbed his face and looked at the morning sky. His profile was clean and unblemished. With quiet conviction he recited, “And yet more bright shines out the Julian star, as moon outglows each lesser light…”

“That is nice, Horace. What is a Julian star?”

“The moon at its fullest. Or, one who outshines.”

“Where did you learn it?”

“My mother. She believed in education.”

“My parents did, too.” She hurried to change the subject from home. “How old are you, if you don’t mind?”

“An old man. I have twenty years.”

“That isn’t old, Horace. You be anything.”

“And I would be, now. ‘A good scare is worth more than good advice.’

She nodded. “I understand that. I really do.”

“That quote was the real Horace,” he said softly. “Quintus Horatius Flaccus, the favorite poet of Emperor Augustus. I was named after him. Rome wants another Horace, my mother used to say.”

“Your mother sounds very sweet. I think it’s nice to be named after a poet.”

“Thank you. I didn’t used to be so courteous about it. ‘Adversity draws out talent,’ my mother said to me, over and over. I found my own favorite lines. ‘Seize the day!’ I told her when I left for the legions. Wasn’t I a bright boy?” He gave a dry laugh. “Father approved of the legions. Men of honor find their reward, father said. Homer was his man.” He lifted his face again to the sky. “‘A vase is begun—why, as the wheel goes round, does it turn out a pitcher?’

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.

« “The Arena” || “War Horses” »
The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history … each section is about a different time period. The above excerpt is from “Home,” the 1st section of Eclipsed by Shadow, set in modern-day California.

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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» See the Media Kit for more information about the trilogy.

Check out the trilogy’s page on Facebook!

The Arena

There was everywhere and nowhere to run. People scattered before the galloping horses and their bristling chariots of bronze. Meagan leapt out of the path of an oncoming team. Hooves pounded across her footprints. – Eclipsed by Shadow (excerpt)

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 ancient Rome (100 AD): Meagan is trapped with prisoners in the Coliseum…

The peculiar vices of this city, it seems to me, are conceived almost in the mother’s womb … a passion for gladiators and horses.

—Cornelius Tacitus (c. 55 – 120) Roman historian

THE WOODEN DOORS groaned back together behind them. Points of spears filled the narrowing gap as it closed.

Parthenon Horse

New gates opened, tall iron-banded doors that swept outward. The cheering was too loud for any other sound to be heard, but Meagan felt a familiar rumbling. Her stomach chilled to icy jelly as horses thundered from the gates in teamed pairs.

The dazed woman looked up to the sky, thin arms outstretched. Meagan saw a chariot bearing down on her, and she screamed into the crowd’s roar as the woman went under hooves and iron-sheathed wheels.

There was everywhere and nowhere to run. People scattered before the galloping horses and their bristling chariots of bronze. Meagan leapt out of the path of an oncoming team. Hooves pounded across her footprints.

Others tried to climb the smooth mortar walls, but spectators beat them back. A chariot rode along the inside wall, sparks and masonry flying where its spiked wheel made contact. One man climbed high enough to clutch the arm of a spectator—the crowd tossed both over the wall. A woman from the stands threw herself onto the netting, writhing in the passion of bloodlust.

Meagan saw a chariot fishtail, throwing plumes of sand as it straightened towards her. She turned and ran blindly, hearing the thundering gallop grow distinct from the crowd’s noise as the chariot gained.

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.

The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history … each section is about a different time period. The above excerpt is from “Home,” the 1st section of Eclipsed by Shadow, set in modern-day California.

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.

__________

» See the Media Kit for more information about the trilogy.

Check out the trilogy’s page on Facebook!

The First Ride

The herd’s stallion trotted fretfully around the edges of his band. A stallion may choose his group but he is not the boss. Equine society is based on friendships and roles—the stallion was waiting for the group’s leader to make a decision, and he wished she would hurry. – Eclipsed by Shadow (excerpt)

A prehistoric horse herd-inspection…

“It’s all right,” Meagan calmly told the wary circle of horses. She moved slowly as individual horses stepped closer to sniff suspiciously. “I’m not going to hurt you.” She stroked the gray mare’s neck to show her good intentions.

The herd’s stallion trotted fretfully around the edges of his band. A stallion may choose his group but he is not the boss. Equine society is based on friendships and roles—the stallion was waiting for the group’s leader to make a decision, and he wished she would hurry.

The actual chief was a squat sorrel mare. She paced around Meagan with tight steps, her head held stiff and high. She was not pleased. Yes, this noisy pale monkey was interesting, mildly, taking a predator’s position to do nothing but gurgle. But the mare was impatient. She had a specific destination in mind today, a sheltered area with quality grass. The clinging creature was plainly too clumsy to be a concern, so perhaps a good day’s grazing could still be had.

To Meagan’s relief the sorrel mare snorted and swung around. The stallion moved to the rear as the herd fell into a brisk trot.

“Really, I won’t be any trouble,” Meagan assured the horses as they moved off, patting her mount’s coarse neck. The little mare flattened her ears and crow-hopped.

« “Mrs. Bridgestone” || “The Scythian Tomb” »
The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history … each section is about a different time period. The above excerpt is from “Home,” the 1st section of Eclipsed by Shadow, set in modern-day California.

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.

__________

» See the Media Kit for more information about the trilogy.

Check out the trilogy’s page on Facebook!

Mrs. Bridgestone

‘The elderly woman’s smile mapped lines across her pale features. Her silver hair was pulled back to reveal a strand of white pearls looped over a simple charcoal dress. “I am Mrs. Bridgestone, and you must be Jennifer. It is so good of you to come.” The woman smiled knowingly at Meagan. “I believe your daughter and I have already met.” ’ —excerpted from Eclipsed by Shadow (Book #1 of ‘The Legend of the Great Horse’ trilogy (p. 1)

“Do you believe in legends, dear?”

 

“Welcome,” a quavering voice greeted them, brave in the vast space.

Meagan gave a little exclamation and whispered, “Mom, I do know her.”

“Come in, please. I am so happy you could join me.” Thin, withered hands motioned to a facing couch. “Nelson, please show them in.” Jennifer grasped Meagan’s hand firmly as the butler led them into the room.

The elderly woman’s smile mapped lines across her pale features. Her silver hair was pulled back to reveal a strand of white pearls looped over a simple charcoal dress. A bejeweled cane leaned against the arm of the couch. “I am Mrs. Bridgestone, and you must be Jennifer. It is so good of you to come.” The woman smiled knowingly at Meagan. “I believe your daughter and I have already met.”

“I am pleased to meet you, Mrs. Bridgestone,” Jennifer said graciously. “My daughter did not tell me you two were acquainted.”

“We met on a delightful occasion last summer. How is your beautiful young horse, dear child? I won’t make the mistake of saying ‘pony’ again.”

Meagan was about to say the horse was fine, thank you, when her mother interrupted. “We sold her two weeks ago,” Jennifer said firmly. “We had an offer too good to pass up.”

Meagan looked at her mother in surprise.

“Yes, so I understand. I was sorry to hear that.” The old woman looked past her guests and motioned to the butler. He carried forward a silver tea service.

Jennifer kept her smile fixed. “Your home is so lovely, Mrs. Bridgestone. Though I must say, I am confused about the nature of this meeting.”

“Of course you are, dear. Allow me time to explain.” The elderly woman waited as the tea was poured, accepting her cup with a polite murmur. “I am afraid, Jennifer, that by the end of this meeting you will quite think me a crazy old lady.”

« “Meagan” || “The First Ride” »
The Legend of the Great Horse trilogy is an adventure through history … each section is about a different time period. The above excerpt is from “Home,” the 1st section of Eclipsed by Shadow, set in modern-day California.

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.

__________

» See the Media Kit for more information about the trilogy.

Check out the trilogy’s page on Facebook!