Wednesday, 15 January 2014

PBOTD: January 15th, Katherine Roberts - I am the Great Horse

Katherine Roberts has a first class degree in Mathematics (useful, she says, for understanding royalty statements), and a clutch of well-received fantasy novels to her name.  As a child, Elyne Mitchell's Silver Brumby series were some of her favourites, and she's picked up the motif of the talking horse in her book I am the Great Horse (2006). 

UK edition, paperback, 2007
It's the story of Bucephalus, the great black war horse who bore Alexander the Great on his campaigns. Alexander the Great was a Macecdonian prince, son of the formidable King Philip II of Macedon (382-386 BC). King Philip was an admirable soldier and campaigner in his own right, bringing Macedonia, traditionally considered by the Greeks to be an uncivilised backwater, right into Greek consciousness, when through battle, diplomacy and treaty Macedonia became the dominant force in Greek politics. After King Philip II was assassinated, power passed to his son, Alexander (356-323 BC). Philip had already planned an invasion of Asia: after ensuring the Greeks were still under Macedonian domination, Alexander and his army defeated the Persians. Alexander went on to conquer Egypt, much of central Asia, and parts of India. Bucephalus died in India in 326 and had a city named after him: Alexander died in 323 BC, at the age of 33. His empire did not survive his death. It was divided up amongst his successors into four dynasties: the Ptolemaic, Seleucid, Antigonid and Attalid, who ruled with varying degrees of success.

American first edition,2006
Alexander remains one of the most subtle and successful generals of all time: his horse certainly had a story to tell. Bucephalus, who is a horse with a considerable opinion of himself, makes the most of the opportunity Katherine Roberts gives him in this book. As a balance, I am the Great Horse is also the story of the stable girl, Charm, so we see the full breadth of life on Alexander's campaigns: from the stable lines to the royal tent. 

I am the Great Horse was originally published (I think) in hardback in America by Chicken Shack in 2006. The British edition came out a year later, as a paperback. Both now appear to be out of print, but the book is available as an ebook.

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For more on the author and her books, she has her own website.  For more on her equine books, she has a page on my website.

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