This is the first of a trilogy of historical novels, set in different time periods, each one about a girl and her love of horses. The Horse Road is set in central Asia some 2,000 years ago and author Troon Harrison provides readers with a feeling for what it was like to be alive in a time and place completely different to their own.
Fourteen-year-old Kallisto is passionate about one thing: horses. As the story begins, she is racing her mother’s prized stallion through the obstacle course when she sees, in the distance, the approaching Chinese Army. As she, her mother and her friend rush back to the city to move their horses to safety, a leopard attack leaves Kallisto’s mother and the stallion badly wounded.
For girls at this time, marriages are arranged to best suit the family’s status. Kallisto has been promised to Arash, the son of the Royal Falconer. Arash has his own problems: his father had promised a golden horse harness to a prince, but lost it instead in a drunken bet. As a result, the family’s reputation with the Royal Family is now in drastic need of help. As the Chinese tighten their grip on the city, Arash seizes Swan, Kallisto’s beloved pure white mare. The beautiful horse will be sacrificed in an attempt to persuade the gods to favour the defenders of the city and to put Arash’s family back in good standing with the Royal Family. Swan’s capture begins the heroic journey of Kallisto as she attempts to win back her horse — by striking a bargain with Arash to locate the golden harness in exchange for Swan’s life.
Troon Harrison has created a wonderful story that enables the reader to feel the character’s passion for horses. Harrison’s writing will keep young readers engaged as they follow the path of Kallisto and her determination to save her beloved horses. The book can also be used as an opportunity to further research the time period of the story and to further explore the world of horses.
Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2012. Volume 35 No. 4.