The woods were tangled, lush with summer. Poor going, but if she rode across open land, Alexa would have to comply with her father’s dreary order not to gallop. Somebody would see her. There’d be a lecture. Maybe even an order not to ride at all.
Here, beyond the fields, there was no one to carry tales. What Papa said about low branches and treacherous going was the greatest nonsense. Alexa had used the bridle path only the previous week. It was perfectly safe.
Alexa is the teenage daughter of a landowning family in 475 England. Although her life is comfortable, it is built on a fragile stability. She soon discovers just how fragile. It now seems very unlikely that she will be ever be able to follow her heart. She wants to breed fine horses, but her mother has other plans. But Alexa is her mother’s daughter, determined and headstrong. She meets Artorius, a boy of her age who has a vision for fighting from horseback, not the ponies that are native to England. Like Alexa’s mother, Artorius’ father gives his child’s ideas very little attention. Alexa needs all her skills, and support from others, to extricate herself from her mother’s plans without putting herself in undue danger.
L. S. Lawrence says he was inspired by the legend of King Arthur and some surprising archaeological finds to create this story. England, and Europe, of the time (475) were lawless and unstable places, where battles were constant and safety and peace were fleeting. Women were not much more than possessions and/or servants to their husband/masters. Into this era, he introduces a feisty girl who loves horses and is definitely not interested in being someone’s chattel. Though intelligent, she has been sheltered and must learn quickly if she is to survive. From her secure early existence, she is thrust into an uncertain and bloodthirsty world where life has little value when measured against power and wealth. Trust is not given easily. This is a grand adventure in an uncertain time, full of mystery and intrigue. Recommended for secondary readers, particularly girls who want to be free to create their own destiny.
Horses for King Arthur L. S. Lawrence
Omnibus Books 2011
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
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