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Black Horses For the King

Press:Ballantine Books Del Rey (April 27, 2004)
Publication Date:2004
ISBN:9780345468635
Author Name:McCaffrey, Anne
Pages:192
Language:English

Content

This fast-moving historical fantasy by bestselling author Anne McCaffrey traces the beginnings of the British cavalry, as recounted by a boy growing up in exciting and perilous times.After his father’s death, young Galwyn Varianus is apprenticed to his uncle, who puts the boy to work on the high seas. 
But horses, not ships, are Galwyn’s passion.
Luckily, a passenger aboard, Lord Artos (later to rule as the legendary King Arthur), is bound for the great horse fair at Septimania.
Risking his life, Galwyn abandons his uncle to serve the gallant leader.
Galywn’s calming way with horses quickly impresses Lord Artos and his men.
But what no one expects is how crucial Galwyn will be to their upcoming battles—as he masters the secrets of the iron shoes that will protect the exotic horses’ delicate hooves.
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From Publishers Weekly

McCaffrey steps out of her niche as a Hugo and Nebula award-winning fantasy writer to tackle her first historical novel for young adults, retelling the Arthurian legend-minus the Round Table, Guinevere and Merlin-through the eyes of Galwyn Varianus. 
A Roman Celtic youth, Galwyn helps the future king of Britain, known here as Lord Artos, acquire the legendary Black Horses of his legions.
The author's tender reverence for equine history (she raises horses in Ireland) makes for vivid descriptions of frightened steeds in the hold of a ship across the English Channel; it also allows an undue amount of horsey jargon.
A teenage boy interested exclusively in horseshoes rings not quite true, yet the well-drawn story moves along at a compelling trot, climaxing in a battle in which horses help Lord Artos reclaim Britain for future mad cows and Englishmen.
Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9?Lord Artos has a vision of using great, black Libyan stallions to carry him and his Companions into battle. 
To procure them, he and his men sail to Burtigala (Bordeaux), then cross over land to Septimania (the French Mediterranean coast).
Galwyn, the ship owner's mistreated nephew, is gifted at languages and handling horses, not at sailing; when the ship reaches port, he runs away to join Artos on his trek.
Once the mares and stallions reach Britain safely, the lord returns to Camelot and leaves the lad to learn the new craft of farriery.
Artos prepares his army to fight the Saxons, and it is Galwyn's job to demonstrate the iron horseshoes and find a way to make them hold up in battle.
Tension is introduced by the impending Saxon invasion and by a dismissed employee who seeks to sabotage the mission.
The Latin and Celtic names and the large cast take some time to sort out, but become easier to manage as readers get into the story.
Galwyn is the only character who is developed, and he matures nicely into a valued member of Artos's team.
The book ends after the first Battle of the Glein, leaving readers wanting a sequel.
McCaffrey's unromanticized portrait of the times is full of muck and grit, and horse lovers and fans of historical fiction will find much to enjoy in the details.
An excellent companion to Rosemary Sutcliff's Arthurian fantasy trilogy (Puffin).?Cheri Estes, Detroit Country Day School Middle School, Beverly Hills, MICopyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Gr. 
7^-10.
McCaffrey offers a different take on Arthurian legendry, telling a story of how Lord Artos, later known as King Arthur, procured large Libyan horses for his Companions to ride into battle against the Saxons as well as how the practice of shoeing horses began.
The tale is narrated by young Galwyn, who leaves his harsh seafaring uncle to swear fealty to Artos, who finds Galwyn's knowledge of horses and his affinity for languages invaluable.
The story follows the adventures of Artos and his band as they make their way to the horse fairs to bargain for horses, with Galwyn acting as interpreter.
The scenes of transporting the horses by ship to England and then overland to Artos' farm are exciting.
The second half of the book is quieter but no less compelling as Galwyn, under the tutorship of master horse healer Canyd Brawn, not only learns how to heal horses but also becomes a skilled farrier, keeping the great black horses well shod for battle.
The Arthurian flavor is well maintained throughout, and both characterizations and events are totally convincing.
A sure bet for genre readers and McCaffrey fans.
Sally Estes

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

McCaffrey turns away from the distant planet Pern to the world of King Arthur in her first enchanting historical novel for YAs. 
Galwyn Varianus is a quick-witted lad who is forced, after his father's death, to work as a page on his mean-spirited uncle's boat.
Fortunately Galwyn meets the young Lord Artos (later, King Arthur), who has set out to breed Libyan horses for his army to ride against the invading Saxons.
This larger conflict forms the background for Galwyn's simple, engrossing tale.
After spending a few days in the future king's company, Galwyn is swayed by his noble leadership and mercy, so runs away to join Artos's forces.
Here, Galwyn learns all about raising horses and grows into a fine citizen of Camelot.
The author deftly recreates the tools and culture of the Arthurian era, but readers may find the prolonged development of the prototypical horseshoe plodding.
McCaffrey's fans will no doubt enjoy the camaraderie of Artos's merry band, and her trademark good guy/bad guy characterizations flatten but slightly this enjoyable adventure.
(Fiction.
12+) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP.
All rights reserved.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“The Arthurian flavor is well maintained throughout, and both characterizations and events are totally convincing.”—Booklist“McCaffrey’s unromanticized portrait of the times is full of muck and grit, and horse lovers and fans of historical fiction will find much to enjoy in the details.”—Library Journal

From the Publisher

Anne McCaffrey is best known for the dragons she invented in her Dragonriders of Pern series. 
What many people don't know is that her first love was for horses--and it still is! A number of years ago, she realized her dream of building a horse farm, and each year I go to visit her in Ireland, I see improvements and get the guided tour of all the horses.
This last visit, Anne showed me where some of her most beloved horses are buried--and I was moved at how choked up she got just pointing out the spot (and a gorgeous spot it is, too, with views across the fields down to the Irish Sea).
So it was no surprise to me when Anne wrote Black Horses for the King, a tale of King Arthur from the point of view of the boy who helped him build his cavalry and brought the art of farriery (shoeing horses, for those who aren't familiar with the term) to the British Isles.
Anne even ran her own farriery school in Ireland for a while.
So I know that the details in this book are correct, and the subject is about as near and dear to the author's heart as one could get.--Shelly Shapiro, Executive Editor

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Lord Artos--later to rule as the legendary King Arthur--knew he could defeat the Saxon invaders if only he could find a race of horses swift and strong enough to carry warriors in full regalia fast and far. 
And so he set out for the Continent, in search of the famed horses of the desert.
The key to Lord Artos' plan was the young runaway Galwyn Varianus, whose gift for horse-trading was second only to his skill with horses.
What no one expected was how crucial Galwyn would be to the upcoming battles--as he mastered the secrets of the iron shoes that would protect the desert horses' delicate hooves .
.
.This fast-moving historical fantasy by bestselling author Anne McCaffrey--the story of King Arthur as it has never been told before--is about the beginnings of the British cavalry, as recounted by a boy growing up in exciting and perilous times.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

"The Arthurian flavor is well maintained throughout, and both characterizations and events are totally convincing."--Booklist

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Anne McCaffrey is one of the world's most popular authors. 
Her first novel was published in l967.
Since then, she has written dozens of books, of which there are more than twelve million copies in print.
Before her success as a writer, she was involved in theatre.
She directed the American premiere of Carl Orff's Ludus de Nato Infante Mirificus, in which she also played a witch.
McCaffrey lives in County Wicklow, Ireland, in a house of her own design, Dragonhold-Underhill, so named because she had to dig out a hill to build it.  There she runs a private livery stable, raising and training her beloved horses for horse trials and showjumping.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

“Galwyn’s feeding the fishes again,” the mate called as I emptied the odorous bucket overboard. 
I ignored him, rinsing the bucket in the strong waves that were following us from Isca Dumnorium.By now, I was some used to crossing the Narrow Sea, but to have to tend to six grown men who were not, made me as ill as they.
And made me, once again, the butt of jokes for my uncle’s crew.
It had taken me a while to learn not to rise to the mate’s lures; he’d leave off his taunts sooner.
“Have ye no sea blood in ye at all? Ye’re no use in the rigging, little use on deck, and ye can’t even keep b’low decks clean.”I was hauling the bucket up, had it nearly to the rail, when a particularly hungry wave caught and filled it.
The line pulled burningly through my hands.
I barely managed to belay it on a pin and thus not lose it entirely.
The mate roared with laughter at my unhandiness, encouraging the other men of his watch to join him.“Galwyn, I’d want proof that y’are indeed Gralior’s nephew if I’d one like ye on any ship of mine.”The bucket forgotten, I whirled on him for that insult to my mother.“Ah, lad, we’ve sore need of the bucket below,” said a deep voice in my ear.
A hand caught my shoulder with a powerful shake to gain my attention and curb my intent.
“Such taunts are the currency of the petty,” our noble passenger continued for my ear alone.
“Treat them with the contempt they deserve.” Then he went on in a tone meant to carry, “I tried the salted beef as you suggested, and it has succeeded in settling my belly.
For which I’m obliged to you.
I’ll have another plate for my Companions.”I could not recall the Comes’s name—a Roman one, for all he was supposed to be as much of a Briton as the rest of us.
My uncle treated him with more respect, even reverence, then he accorded most men, fare-paying passengers or not.
So I was quite as willing to obey this Briton lord without quibble, and to ease his Companions’ distress in any way I could.
I hauled up the bucket, which he took below with him.
Then I got more salt beef from the barrel before I followed him back down into the space assigned the passengers.Warriors they might be, but on the sea and three days from land, they were in woeful condition: Two were green under their weathered skins, as they lay defeated by the roll and heave of the deck beneath them.
I did not laugh, all too familiar with their malaise.
They were big men, strong of arm and thew, with callused hands and arms scarred by swordplay.
They’d swords in their baggage, and oiled leather jerkins well studded with nails.
Big men in search of big horses to carry them into battle against the Saxons.
That much I had gleaned from snatches of their conversation before the seasickness robbed them of talk and dignity.
Then they clung to their crosses and made soft prayers to God for deliverance.“Come now, Bwlch, you see me revived,” the war chief cajoled.
Bwlch merely moaned as the salt beef was dangled in front of his face and gestured urgently to me to bring the bucket.
There could be nothing now but bile in the man’s stomach, if that, for he had drunk no more than a sip or two of water all day.
“Bericus, will you not try young Galwyn’s magic cure?” The second man-at-arms closed his eyes and slapped a great fist across his nose and mouth.
“Come now, Companions, we are all but there, are we not, young Galwyn?”I was mortified that he had remembered my name when I could not recall his and started to duck my head away from his smiling face.
Now I was caught by the brilliant blue of his eyes and held by an indefinable link that made of me, in that one moment, his fervent adherent.
Ah, if only my uncle had awarded me such a glance, I could have found my apprenticeship far easier to bear.“Aye, sir,” I said with an encouraging smile for the low-laid Bericus, “we’ll make port soon, and that’s the truth!” For landfall was indeed nigh.
I’d seen the smudge on the horizon when I emptied the bucket, though the mate’s taunt had driven the fact out of my mind till now.
“We should be up the river to Burtigala by dusk.
Solid, dry land.”“Artos, if the rest of this mad scheme of yours is as perilous as this .
.
.” Bericus said in a petulant growl.“Come now, amicus,” their leader replied cheerfully, “this very evening I shall see you served meat, fowl, fish, whatever viand you wish .
.
.” Each suggestion brought a groan from Bericus, and Bwlch tossed his soiled mantle over his head.“We’re in the river now, lord,” I said to the Comes Britannorum Artos—for his full style came back to me now.
I could feel the difference in the ship’s motion.
“If you’d come up on deck now, sirs, you’ll not find the motion so distressing as lying athwart it down here.”Lord Artos flashed me a grin and, hauling the reluctant Bericus to his feet, said, “That’s a good thought, lad.
Come, clear your heads of the sick miasma.
Fresh air is what you need now to set you right.” He gestured for me to help Bwlch as he went to rouse the rest of his Companions.They staggered onto deck, almost falling back down the ladder at the impact of the cool air.
One and all, they reeled across, with me hard put to get them to the leeward rail, lest they find their own spew whipped back into their faces.“Look at the land,” I suggested.
“Not the sea, nor the deck.
The land won’t move.”“If it does, I shall never be the same,” Bericus muttered with a dark glance toward his leader, who stood, feet braced, head up, his long tawny hair whipping in the wind like a legion pennant.
Bericus groaned.
“And to think we’ve got to come back this same way!”“It will not be as bad on the way home, sir,” I said to encourage him.He raised his eyebrows, his pale eyes bright in amaze- ment.
“Nay, it’ll be worse, for we’ll have the bloody horses to tend .
.
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on that!” He gestured behind him at the following seas.
“Bwlch, d’you know? Can horses get seasick?”“I’ll be sure to purchase only those guaranteed to have sea legs,” the Comes said with a wink to me.I looked away lest any of the others misconstrue my expression.
For this was August, and the crossing had been reasonably calm.
In a month or so the autumn gales could start, and those could be turbulent enough to empty the bellies of hardened seamen.“Have you far to travel on land?” I asked.“To the horse fair at Septimania,” Lord Artos said negligently.“Where might that be, lord?”His eyes twinkled approval at my question.
“In the shadow of the Pyrenaei Mountains, in Narbo Martius.”“That far, lord?” I was aghast.“To find that which I must have”—and his voice altered, his eyes lost their focus, and his fists clenched above the railing—“to do what I must do .
.
.”I felt a surge run up from my bowels at the stern purpose of his manner and experienced an errant desire to smooth his way however I could.
Foolish of me, who had so little to offer anyone.
And yet this Britic war chief was a man above men.
I did not know why, but he made me, an insignificant and inept apprentice, feel less a failure and more confident.“And it is mine to do,” he added, exhaling gustily.
Then he smiled down at me, allowing me a small share of his certain goal.“I need big strong mares and stallions to breed the warhorses we need to drive the Saxons out of our lands and back into the sea,” he went on.
“Horses powerful enough to carry warriors in full regalia, fast and far.
For it is the swift, unexpected strike that will cause havoc among the Saxon forces, unaccustomed as they are to cavalry in battle.
Julius Caesar used the alauda, his Germanic cavalry, to good effect against the Gauls.
I shall take that page from the scroll of his accomplishments and protect Britain with my horsemen.
If God is with us, the mares and stallions I need will be at that horse fair in Septimania, bred by the Goths from the same Libyan blood stock that the Romans used.”“Will not the legions return, lord, to help us?” I asked hopefully.Lord Artos gave me a kind smile.
“No, lad, we cannot expect them.
This we must do for ourselves.
The horses are the key.”“Do horses get seasick?” Bericus asked again, this time pointedly.“The legions got theirs to Britain.
Why can we not do the same?” the Comes asked with a wry grin.“But how, lord, will you transport them?” And I gestured at the narrow hatch to the lower deck.
Not even a shaggy Sorviodunum pony could pass through it.“Ah, now that’s the easy part,” Artos said, rubbing his big, scarred hands together.
“Cador and I worked that out.” My eyes must have bulged at his casual reference to our prince of Dumnonia, for he gave me another reassuring smile that somehow included me in such exalted company.
“We lift the deck planks, settle the horses below in pens well bedded with straw, and nail the planks back on.
Simple, sa?”I was not the only dubious listener; Bericus shook his head and Bwlch covered his mouth for a cough.
But the Lord Artos seemed so sure, and Prince Cador had the reputation of a formidably acute man.“How big are the horses from Septimania?” I asked.Artos put his forearm at a level with his eyes.
“That height in the shoulder.”I could only stare at him in amazement.
“Surely hor...

Tags

Children's Books,Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths,Arthurian,Science Fiction & Fantasy,Fantasy,Myths & Legends

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Comment List (Total:17)

  •     This book would make an excellent gift for a horseman (or woman) that you know. It is an incredible historical fiction about the development of farriership (blacksmithing) in the world. The characters and plot are well thought out and balance the technical aspect of the book. Even a person with no knowledge of horses would find this to be an interesting novel. The hero is both relatable and human; he makes mistakes but learns from his experiences working with the horses. Arthur, the future King Arthur and a supporting character in this book, has never been characterized in such a realistic way; the character seems to come alive in the pages of this book.

  •     Black Horses for the King by Anne McCaffrey was a great book. It is about a boy who is an apprentice to his uncle on his trading boat.

  •     Great combination of horses, history and Anne McCaffreys' superb plots that have you turning pages to the end and then wanting more!

  •     Being an avid Anne McCaffrey fan I was disappointed by this light weight novel. Not worth the effort for me and not recommended for any but the most avid fan.

  •     C.W Great book perfect if you like exciting and adventurous story its about a boy in the middle ages who wants to be a knight.

  •     This is part of my 12yo son's SonLight Curriculum reader list. The author makes her distaste for the popular tales of King Arthur and Camelot clear in her forward, no real danger of disappointment for those that take the time to research. While it starts with lots of action and appears to be a good read for boys, it quickly slows to an almost textbook like feel at times. The author thankfully keeps a little bit of angst and conflict limping along but not enough to keep my son reading at an enjoyable pace. Even my eyes were sleepy at times reading it. My daughter (then 12 also) thoroughly enjoyed it, but she adores horses and mammal related science - perfect match.

  •     I have read almost every book she has written. This is for a younger reader but I enjoyed it.

  •     A good book for adults, but hard to read out loud, and difficult for children under 13.

  •     Beautiful! Still my son's favorite after 25 years.

  •     Do you love horses and historical fiction, fun read for middle grades through adult if you love the time of King Arthur or horses or plucky heroes.

  •     Like other books written by Anne it was an excellent read, she didn't need a lot of violence like so many writers use to hold a readers interest. I don't LIKE a great deal of unnecessary violence when telling a story. I've read all her Pern series, and many of her other books and she is as great a writer as MM Auel at creating a universe and peopling it in very great detail. Preteens, especially boys can read Black Horses for the King and enjoy it. Looking forward to the new book due out this coming spring.

  •     Anne has created a great story as usual

  •     I give this book four stars for it's interest. The reason I read this book was for the Arthurian connections. If that's what you're looking for, it may or may not be what you'll find. For one thing, don't expect Lancelot or Guinvere to ever come into the story. Lord Artos -the legendary King Arthur- is a bachelor. I am not a huge horse fan, but I did enjoy the horse connections in this story. The conflict in "Black Horses" relates to the Saxon threat and to recent Irish raids. To prove his power and define his strength, Lord Artos acquires the enormous Libyan stallions. One problem- they're footsore, with problems like cracked hooves, growth rings etc, arising. That's when the "horse sandals" are made. "Black Horses" explores this knowledge and the devotion to Lord Artos through the eyes of Galwyn. It is a very good book, and I'd recommend it for a bit of light reading.

  •     First off, the first few pages are written rather clunky and I initially put the book away after trying to figure out what was going on. But after running out of other new books to read, I picked it back up. Secondly, this is not about King Arthur in the slightest. I had an idea that this wouldn't deal much with King Arthur, but I was surprised how little it did. This book could have been better set in it's own fantasy world rather than trying to make it about a legend that it barely contains.As far as plot, there is very little conflict. Galwyn has a few minor run-ins with a jealous stable-boy type which culminates in an anti-climatic fight over a few sentences at the end of the book. Nothing bad happens to Galwyn. Everyone loves him and he is given favor by Artos instantly despite being a young sailor boy on his uncle's ship. Galwyn is amazing with horses, riding, and blacksmithing. And despite never being taught to fight with a weapon, easily wins the fight with his "enemy". The lack of conflict throughout the book and Galwyn's perfection made for a boring read. Would also be better labeled a textbook on the history of horseshoes and early horse care than about King Arthur.

  •     In a departure from her normal fare of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Anne McCaffrey gives us a hugely believable tale of King Arthur, and the true uniting of all the Britons. Told from the point of view of a young runaway, Galwyn Varianus, Black Horses traces Lord Artos', who is later thought to be King Arthur's, search for fast horses. These horses had to be big enough and strong enough for his knights to ride to give the Britons a fighting chance against the bigger armies of the Saxons.Historically accurate, Black Horses is a fast read, and an emminetly exciting story. Despite the lack of the mystical turn of the normal King Arthur tale, or perhaps because of it, Black Horses for the King takes the reader into a realm of fantasy both thrilling and moving. A highly satisfying story aimed at the young adult, Black Horses is a treat for all readers, young and old alike. King Arthur fans will enjoy this unique look at their favorite hero, and those who like more realism in their stories will like this likely view of a piece of history.

  •     As a parent and soon-to-be teacher, I'm always on the lookout for books that are unique. Something that may take a new spin on an old tale, or may present my kids with a story that they might not have known before.Black Horses for the King is Anne McCaffrey's take on the Arthurian legends, with a twist; the protagonist of the tale is a young man who ends up caring for the special horses that will carry Arthur's warriors into battle. Ms. McCaffrey paints a vivid picture of England after the Romans abandoned it, and slips in what was really happening (and might probably would have been happening) with the citizens, and with the land.It was an engrossing story for this adult; I think there's enough here that can captivate a wide variety of readers. I would let my soon-to-be third grader read it, but it's more intended for fourth through sixth grade. But hey! Read it because it's good! There's drama, some fighting, horses, and even a little humor. I think Anne McCaffrey did a great job with this story; I hope you feel this way, as well.

  •     Black Horses for the King was a very enthralling story. This story is about a young boy who is apprenticed to his uncle.

 

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