Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Blood Red Horse
Blood Red Horse by K. M. Grant, 2005
Current events and the movie Kingdom of Heaven have increased interest in the Crusades which makes this book very timely.
Gavin, Will and Ellie, their father's ward, have been raised together on the DeGranville estate. Gavin is the oldest and loutish in his treatment of his younger brother. Ellie is very close to Will and sides with him against Gavin even though she senses a streak of kindness in the older brother.
Will has a gift with horses so when it is time for him to choose a Great Horse he forgoes a large destrier and selects the smaller "blood red" horse named Hosanna. The horse emanates a sense of well being to everyone it encounters.
The landscape shifts to the Holy Land when Gavin, Will and their father answer King Richard's call for a crusade. Will and his horse lift the morale of an army that is suffering from terrible battle loses and hardships.
Meanwhile, Kamil, the ward of the Muslim leader Saladin is seeking revenge for the death of his father at the hands of a Crusader. Saladin counsels him to abandon his hatred and follow his faith. Will and Kamil's paths inevitably cross and Hosanna is captured by Kamil. Hosanna presence works its magic on Kamil and Saladin's army too.
War changes everyone and everything. Gavin, Will, Ellie and Kamil must learn to live with loss and survive.
Christianity and Islam are represented very respectfully. A faithful Muslim, Saladin's generosity to King Richard's army is heart-felt and based on fact. The Crusaders' pilgrimage to Jerusalem to see the True Cross is very moving and underscores the religious fervor behind the Crusades.
The horse Hosanna is presented more as a mystical talisman instead of a full fledged character (my standard for horse books now is Seabiscuit) but this story is about young people coming of age and the human characters are very well developed.
The army's trip to the Middle East by ship and the reality of battle are accurately depicted. The descriptions are grim but not grisly, PG-13 not R.
This is Book I of a trilogy. I will anxiously await the next book. I want to know how these kids are doing.
Posted by Camille at 8:46 AM