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Black Horses for the King (1996)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345422570, Mass Market Paperback)Anne McCaffrey is back with this precious, well-researched yarn that follows a Celtic lad in service to King Arthur. Set in fifth-century Britain, McCaffrey's first historical novel for young adults rejects a fantastical, Hollywood treatment of King Arthur in favor of realism and solid storytelling. Take away the Round Table and the usual knights-in-shining-armor hoo-hah, and you're left with an engaging, endearing chapter from the life of Artos, Comes Britannorum, a young war leader in search of horses strong enough to carry his armored warriors into battle against the savage Saxons.
The story is told through the eyes of polite, earnest young do-gooder Galwyn Varianus, who has fled the service of his cruel, brutish, seafaring uncle to take up with the charismatic Artos. Galwyn quickly proves his value with his affinity for languages and horses, and he accompanies Artos and the Companions (proto-Knights of the Round Table) as they execute their plan: acquiring and then breeding a handful of fabled Libyans, the horses of the book's title, and then mastering and disseminating the knowledge of horseshoe-making. The action revolves around Galwyn's role in this plan and never rises above the pace of, say, an after-school special. But rich details, McCaffrey's obvious love of the subject matter, and involving characters go a long way to make up for the story's slow trot. (In particular, you'll find yourself waiting eagerly for the comeuppance of one character, a sneering rider named Iswy, Goofus to Galwyn's Gallant.) --Paul Hughes
(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 20 Apr 2011 17:01:15 -0400)
Galwyn, son of a Roman Celt, escapes from his tyrannical uncle and joins Lord Artos, later known as King Arthur, using his talent with languages and way with horses to help secure and care for the Libyan horses that Artos hopes to use in battle against the Saxons.
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