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Black Horses For The King

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,398 Ratings  ·  119 Reviews
Lord Artos is on a historic quest - to search out the finest black horses ever known to man. He has vowed to drive the invading Saxons out of Britain, and he needs big, strong, powerful horses to carry his army into battle.

Galwyn, a young Roman-Celt, leaps at the chance to accompany the group, little guessing the adventure ahead of him - or the price he will have to pay fo
Paperback, 211 pages
Published June 5th 1997 by Corgi Childrens (first published April 1st 1996)
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This was the book that turned me on to Arthurian fiction, which then led me to Elizabeth Wein's "The Winter Prince," which remains one of my favourite books today. This Anne McCaffrey novel is a historical fiction novel set in the time of King Arthur. Arthur, or Artos, as he is known in this story, is searching for black horses large enough for his warriors to ride. To help him find and trade for the Libyan black steeds that he
needs, he hires a young ship's apprentice, Galwyn. Awesome writing.
Black Horses for the King is an Arthurian novel, but focuses mostly on an original character, Galwyn, as he joins Arthur's men and helps to look after his horses, and eventually becomes involved in making prototype horse shoes for them.

It's a little odd for an Arthurian novel, as it has nothing to do with the now-traditional focus of the stories on Lancelot and Guinevere, and barely even follows the well-known characters -- the minor characters among Arthur's knights are original ones, while Bed
Oct 07, 2015 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An Anne McCaffrey book I've never read before! This was a jewel for me, not only because I love Arthurian literature, but because Anne McCaffrey was one of my go-to authors when I was growing up, and she remains one of my most beloved authors today. I can't believe I've never read this one before.

I found this to be an utterly delightful tale. I'll read Arthurian legends in just about any format you give it to me, but I really enjoyed the story of Galwyn and his journey to becoming a farrier for
Clare Farrelly
Mar 20, 2015 Clare Farrelly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: age 10+
This is not just another rendition of Arthurian legend. Well it is but is is a story in itself. The story is interesting and gives a fresh perspective on what would normally only be the beginning of an Arthurian legend. It also has quite a few interesting historical facts woven into the story. I also found it completely believable. This book is no cliche . In some ways the "bad guy" plot was a bit simple and in the end almost to easy to deal with. But the main goal was to get Artos' big black ho ...more
Maria Shuffit
Sep 01, 2015 Maria Shuffit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One thing that I love about Anne McCaffrey's books is that they are ones that I remember reading as a child, and smile to think of them. The ones that I have reread as an adult, I have found to be just as enchanting as they were in my younger days, albeit in a different way now that I'm reading with a grown-up's eyes.

This is one such book. Is it stellar beyond imagining? No. Is it bound to be a favorite of anyone who reads it? No. But it does make for a fun off-shoot of Arthurian literature, cov

A great little historical novel about the early years of King Arthur, imagining how he acquired horses large enough to carry his Companions. Absolutely of the quality fans of McCaffery have come to expect.
Apr 11, 2011 Jean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this novel, because it relates to the Arthurian cycle, without visiting the love triangle. It deals instead with the building of Camelot, and the foundation of Arthur's ideal city.
Nov 18, 2014 Chloe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great novel, truly! Action filled, and adventurous. It was interesting to hear the classic and cliched story of King Arthur told in a completely different way. I think its the best of them all! Black Horses For The King is not cliched at all. It tells of horses and knights and battle, and even a bit of sailing. I found the main character, Galwyn, very original along with the rest of the story. Oh ya, and i like th idea in the book of how even though Galwyns job wasn't in the fighting, he was s ...more
A very factual look at how a pre-Saxon warlord could have made himself and his knights into a powerful force to defend Britain. Entertaining and well-researched.
Feb 17, 2016 Janelle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I'd like to give this one 3.5 stars because I felt it better than average. This tale takes place in Arthurian times, however Arthur is a side character in the story. This is the tale of Galwyn, the son of a disgraced Roman who through luck ends up tending the imported horses brought in to use as mounts to defeat the Saxons. He apprentices himself to a man who knows all there is to know about vetting them and their feet and helps bring about the dawn of early horseshoes. Ultimately he ends up acc ...more
Nov 06, 2015 Lydia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Roughly based on Arthurian legend, but with a very strong historical emphasis, so feels more like a historical novel and has no fantasy elements. Though contains elements of Arthurian legend, more follows the story of a young man in Arthur's entourage who helps bring over, and care for horses to help in the battle against the invading Saxons.

This story is mostly about the horses and the development of "sandals" (later known as "shoes") to help foreign horses adjust to different climate and cond

It's a slow-paced tale about (Welsh/Roman) King Arthur's farrier. IDK you're either here for it or you're not.
Oct 05, 2015 Gracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a lovely quick read. Anne McCaffrey is one of my favorite Sci Fi / Fantasy authors, and this foray into Arthurian legend is highly enjoyable. It's a different perspective than we are usually afforded, with a different plot line. This is by no means an epic novel - it is almost a novella, in fact, with characters mostly static and with the few notable exceptions mostly shallowly developed. That's no problem, though, because everything moves quickly and around the protagonist deftly enoug ...more
Black Horses for the King is a story based off of the life of Lord Artos, the legendary King Author, who chased the Saxons out of England. Galwyn risks everything to join his company and raise majestic horses for Artos' army. The synopsis starts off saying, "This fast-moving historical..." This was actually a very slow book, not fast-moving at all until the very end. The historical parts of the story were interesting. The format of the book is unusual in that it has no chapters, only parts 1-5.

Oct 04, 2015 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Sonlight Homeschool Curriculum
Tells the story of the real King Arthur (Artos) and how he built up a large, swift cavalry, made up of Libyan horses, to help repel the invading Saxon forces from Roman Britain in the early 400s. It also tells how the technology of horse shoeing began in Britain.

I was interested in the story at the beginning, but then grew bored. There wasn't enough tension, and the focus was more on a supporting character rather than King Arthur himself. But I do like how it gives the reader a sense of the real
Oct 22, 2014 Angie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Synopsis: ""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 G ...more
Jan 06, 2009 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction, teen
Okay, when I first picked up this book I wasn't sure what to expect. Anne McCaffrey writes wonderful science fiction/fantasy books but her only other non-science fiction book, The Lady, i was not that fond of.

But, having read this book as a way to pass an otherwise boring afternoon spent in the library as a junior in high school (what can I say, I was a major geek, and hanging out in the library was more fun then staring at a wall during study hall) I was immediately drawn into the story.

The boo
Althea Ann
A straight historical novel which focuses solely on one point - horseshoes.
If, as some theorize, King Arthur, in the 5th century, imported impressive Libyan horses to Britain from the Middle East, how did he deal with the problems which would have occurred when animals used to a dry, desert climate were transferred to wet and soggy England? Hoof rot and mold & all kinds of horsey health issues would undoubtedly have occurred.
McCaffrey gives us her how-it-might-have-happened, through the stor
Mar 20, 2013 Whitney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Black Horses for the King" is the only novel of historical fiction Anne McCaffrey wrote during her long career as far as I am aware. She made the vision of one Celtic-Roman leader determined to bring his people warhorses and one ordinary young man's devoted efforts to see that vision through real and important to me. This is vital because, though I do enjoy animals, what I know about horses couldn't fill a melon-baller and I have been quite contentedly embracing my ignorance.

In her 'Foreward' M
Simon Mcleish
Apr 03, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in January 1999.

Anne McCaffrey was never going to write an Arthurian story, because she felt put off by the Hollywood-style image she had of the legends, presumably that put about by films like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. In this novel, written for the 'young adult' market, she has changed her mind. But she has not really written an Arthurian novel; the setting (other the fact that it is early medieval Britain, with the presence of a charisma
Well, little did I know that I was getting a book for "young adults" foisted off on me. However, since two of my long-time loves are horses and King Arthur -- and this book combines both -- I was satisfied to read it.
Covers the importation of heavy war horses who could carry the limited armor of the era plus the soldier. They used what the book called Libyan horses, but were of what they now call Friesian-type or Spanish-type.
Then the challenge was how to keep their feet healthy. The breed was
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Rebecca Wells for

Galwyn Varianus's life has never been easy. When his father died he was apprenticed to his cruel uncle on a trading vessel, though all he wanted to do was stay shore-bound and work with horses. But when Lord Artos calls upon Galwyn to help him bargain for horses for his Companions, Galwyn's life changes completely.

Once Lord Artos - the man who will become the legendary King Arthur - sees Galwyn's calming way with horses, Galwyn is invited to join th
Dec 21, 2013 Brie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not that it's a bad book. It's just that it's not really great.

I think I picked this up solely because it was written by Anne McCaffrey, and I went on a kick where I read just about anything she'd written. It was filed under the regular fantasy/sci-fi section, but that was a serious misfile.

Let's admit it -- this isn't fantasy. This is historical fiction, and while King Arthur shows up for a few pages, he's presented as a historically accurate figure, not a Merlin-and-magic myth.

The book
Jul 19, 2009 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-guy-or-girl
I may have been reading too much experimental fiction lately, but I found BHFTK pretty juvenile and melodramatic.

Pros first: the historical research is impeccable, including Roman place names and established trading posts. It includes amazing detail of shipping practices, the travel of Jews and Arabs (later reviled and curtailed by Christian influence), and the importance of good horseflesh to military practices. The characters comment on each other's physical build, armaments, and accoutrement
The other John
A blurb on the cover of this one reads, "The story of King Arthur as it has never been told before..." This is true. It's true because this book seems to be as much about King Arthur's horse as it is about him. Now like I said before, I've never found horse stories to be all that interesting. Arthurian tales, however, I find to be quite enthralling. Mixing the two turned out quite successful and yielded an enjoyable tale. (Of course, Ms. McCaffrey's ability to create interesting characters might ...more
Dec 21, 2014 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I actually got a message asking me why I rated this and didn't review so I will tell you.

Every book is different, a new book, a new chapter; a new life. Don't compare them.

I read this book when I was fifteen and never even seeing a horse before I could feel a velvet smooth nose and hear their puffing breaths; know how much it might hurt to ride one as it ran and jostled you on its back. To me this is what matters in a book. An this book even as I read it again yesterday; still lets me feel like
This is a Arthurian retelling, with an eye toward historical accuracy. I’ll admit, I assumed this would be a fantasy book when I picked it up as I’ve read McCaffrey’s Pern series and enjoyed them. Mostly I saw the author and that it fit a challenge where I needed “Horse” in the title, so I grabbed it. Discovering that it is historical fiction and Arthurian, was an added bonus. It is a younger YA book, so be aware that there is not much to the story beyond the horses and the boy, Galwyn, as he le ...more
This was painful to listen to as an audiobook due to quality. I zoned out so much because of that, but also because of the story.

It just wasn't that fascinating to me.

Didn't much care one way or another about the characters, which is saying something since it's a King Arthur story! (Well, he's in it. It's not his story though.)

The only reason I stuck with it was because it was so short.

You really have to love horses to love this book.
Jun 14, 2016 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2016-wrap-up
I forgot how much I love Anne McCaffrey's writing. I'm so glad I picked up this book on a whim. It's a standalone, which is it's only true downfall because I really wanted to hear more!

I learned a lot about horses, and why they started making horse shoes. It was so interesting and informative along with a great story! The emphasis is on the horses, not the knights, which is refreshing.
Jul 21, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anne McCaffrey has been one of my favorite authors since I was 15 and first read Dragonsdawn.

This book is one of her ventures into both fantasy (the legend of King Arthur) and historical fiction. The intended audience is probably young adults and was likely written for her son. It covers the time before Arthur was a legend, when he was building Camelot and the legend.

I would highly recommend this book to horse-mad young teens. It was obviously well-researched in terms of blacksmithery and farrie
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Anne McCaffrey was born on April 1st, 1926, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at 1:30 p.m., in the hour of the Sheep, year of the Fire Tiger, sun sign Aries with Taurus rising and Leo mid-heaven (which seems to suggest an early interest in the stars).

Her parents were George Herbert McCaffrey, BA, MA PhD (Harvard), Colonel USA Army (retired), and Anne Dorothy McElroy McCaffrey, estate agent. She had two
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