Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Famine of Horses (Sir Robert Carey, #1)” as Want to Read:
A Famine of Horses (Sir Robert Carey, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Famine of Horses (Sir Robert Carey #1)

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  388 ratings  ·  53 reviews
In the year 1592, the border between Scotland and England is lawless and violent country. And Carlisle, one of the most dangerous parts of Queen Elizabeth's kingdom, is a place where the law of the Scots gives way to the law of the English - leaving gaps where there is no law at all. Sir Robert Carey, newly appointed Deputy Warden of the West March, has maneuvered himself ...more
Hardcover, 270 pages
Published March 1st 1995 by Walker & Company (first published 1994)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Famine of Horses, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Famine of Horses

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 793)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Howard White
The first in a terrific series of novels based on Sir Robert Carey, an actual historical figure and a courtier in Queen Elizabeth I's court. The first four books in the series are wonderful. Carey was the second, impecunious son of the Baron Hunsdon, who was posted to the border reaches of northern England and southern Scotland, both as a means of advancing his career and removing him from the reach of his many creditors in London. Terrific secondary characters, grand Elizabethan political plots ...more
Beth (moonivy)
Jul 05, 2007 Beth (moonivy) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone.
Read 3/20/05
A Famine of Horses is a lively, fact-paced story set
along the English/Scottish Borderlands circa 1592.
Sir Robert Carey arrives, fresh from Elizabeth I's
court, to take over the deputy wardenship of the
West March. Carey engagingly contends with horse
thieves, murder, corruption and shifting loyalties.
A charming and interesting book, I'll certainly
continue on with this series.

I truly enjoyed this tale. It made me laugh out loud several times. There is mystery and mayhem set in old England. With what one would believe to be a soft prissy cousin to the Queen, who takes on the job of deputy warden out on the West March and border lands of England and Scotland. However, my assumption was proven wrong straight away. Sir Robert Carey proves himself fit for the job and is quite ingenious in his dealings. The women in this story aren't anything to poo-poo at either! I look f ...more
The protagonist of this book is the real-life Sir Robert Carey, the grandson of King Henry VIII and his mistress, Mary Boleyn (Anne's sister). Set in 1592 on the Scots/English Border, Sir Robert comes north to become Deputy Warden of the West March, a place and time that makes the American Wild West look tame. The main and supporting characters are well drawn, some of them based on historical people. The plot is complex but understandable, the period detail interesting but not ponderous.
Brenda Mengeling
Sir Robert Carey, the hero of A Famine of Horses, is a real historical figure, a bastard grandson of Henry VIII, and the youngest, and therefore poorest, son of an earl. Prior to the start of the story, he has been a courtier in Elizabeth I's court, and it's clear he was looking for a way out.

He gets himself appointed as Deputy Warden under his ineffectual brother-in-law up in Carlisle, England. Carlisle is the northern most bit of England just south of the "disputed" land between England and Sc
Gregory House
It is now Oh Gods some fifteen years since I first came across the first of PF Chisholm's Sir Robert Carey novels set in the politically complex Tudor England of the 1590s’. Queen Elizabeth’s fleet has beaten back the famed Armada and that threat at least for time has diminished and the kingdom basks in relative peace. However the northern border with Scotland it is not so quiet. Murder, cattle reiving and tower burning are all too common occurrences. So one more dead body found in the Debatable ...more
in just lending this book to someone yesterday who enjoys this sort of thing I realized I hadn't put this on my shelf. It is exciting up to a point, historically fascinating and has characters which I can see may well have developed in fascinating ways during the other books but interestingly, though I have two other books from the series which were given to me eight years ago, I still haven't read them. It might just be that they, like the Patrick O'Brian series, failed to grab me and therefore ...more
A Famine of Horses

I've read one other book in Chisholm's Sir Robert Carey series (An Air of Treason), but A Famine of Horses is the first in the series and very, very good.

A Famine of Horses is a fast-paced tale full of historical detail with many of the characters taken from real life, both the good guys and the bad guys. On Sir Robert Carey's arrival as Deputy Warden of the West March, he is faced with a murder to investigate. He must discover the guilty person quickly to avoid further bloodsh
A surprisingly good book (at least to me) for what I thought would be another schlocky trade paperback. Enough history to bring the 16th century Scottish borderlands to life, enough action for any thriller fan. Very well-written and only one typo (that I could find) in the entire book -- a welcome rarity. I will be picking up "P.F. Chishom's" (Patricia Finney's) other "Sir Robert Carey Mystery" books soon.
P. F. Chisholm, whose mysteries written as Patricia Finney, are about a man who searches out traitors for Queen Elizabeth I, gets more humerous with the four books in this series. Robert Carey is the Queens cousin, escaping from his creditors in London and landing in Carlisle to become Deputy Warden of the West Marches, trying to keep peace among the Border families.
This is a cracking good adventure tale. (I'm hearing myself say this review in a British accent.) I liked this book better than the other one by this writer (Firedrake's Eye) that I read earlier. It's less bogged down in 16th century detail & language and more exciting. You really feel like you're there. I'll be reading the rest of the books in this series.
I read this out of order, having read the second instalment first. I liked this even more than the later book. It gives a vivid sense of the reiver society and the battles in the Borders to maintain order. Sir Robert Carey is a brilliant choice of an historical personage on whom to base a series of crime adventures.
Throughly enjoyable; historically rooted; light summer reading for historical fiction buffs wanting something other than a military view of sixteenth century England/Scotland.
I was pleasantly surprised by Chisholm's retelling of the adventures of a real Elizabethan courtier's life in the borderlands nigh by Scotland. I don't know how accurate this is in terms of Lord Cary, but the time and place ring true enough and the characters are delicious. There is detail to the lives of the people in the
Scott Harris
The first in the series set in the lands between Scotland and England circa 1600. Robert Carey as the newly arrived Londoner in this wild and rather lawless land. Great atmosphere and plot.
The first book in a wonderful series! Since the 6th book was recently released, I decided to reread a them all from the beginning. Based on the real life journals of Sir Robert Carey, the 10th son of Lord Hunsdon, who was the cousin (and possibly the half-brother) of Elizabeth I, these mystery novels are set during the last 11 years or so of her reign, starting around 1592. Such wonderful characters, both real and fictional, and an exciting plot. Robert Carey was a fascinating, handsome man; bra ...more
Quite funny, with some diverse and entertaining characters. The plot gets a bit lost in the color at times, but I think it's worth it.
Jul 25, 2009 MB rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MB by: Diana Gabaldon's website
Loved it! Got to track down the rest of the series!

(It is so nice to find an author who can write something besides fluff.)
Very good book. Carey seemed very real!
Great historical mystery series
A friend recommended a later book in this series to me, but I always like to start with the first book in a series if I can get it. I'm glad I did, as it took some time to adjust to the style and pace of Chisholm's writing - but it was well worth it. There are a lot of characters and many of them have very funny names like "Bangtail", "Jock of the Peartree" and "Archie Give-it-them" to distinguish among the many who share the same surnames. The author has obviously done her research into the cla ...more
Historical fiction always whets my appetite for learning more about the real people and events of the time, and this book has done so even more than most.

The 5 part series is based upon a real person, who happened to be the cousin of Queen Elizabeth I [as he, Sir Robert Carey, was the son of Mary Boleyn's son with either established lover King Henry VIII or hurriedly arranged husband William Carey.]

The Scottish/English border provides the lawless and brutal setting, and all 5 take place in the
Niki Beecher
Moderately good book, I may read the next one. The writing was good enough to hold my interest long enough to finish it. I like good historical mysteries, I've read far better, but I've also read far worse. The characters were a bit flat and it never really grabbed me, but the historical picture painted was a good one.
Stephanie Diaz
I enjoyed the real-life figures from history, and I thought the historical detail. Carey is a great character. But honestly I was a little confused by the huge cast and although it was pleasant I wasn't really drawn in. I wanted more Carey, not all of the other characters!
Reggie Billingsworth
Discovered the Robert Carey gems entirely by accident and was so shocked by P.F. Chisholm's the visceral detail, the swash buckling command of the era AND insightfully finessed characters. Spontaneously I realised these are the first mystery books for decades I would like to actually own to return to any time I want. I don't want to wait for them at the library...I want them now! Thus my 5 star rating. The positive reviews on this site have said it all. I would just corroborate it. C ...more
3 1/2 stars. Wonderful fun. Essentially as the author says in the preface, if Robert Carey didn't really exist it would be necessary to invent him. After finishing this I rushed out (well rushed to my keyboard) and bought all the rest of the books in this series.
An excellent fast paced romp through the West Marches of the Borders in Elizabethan England. A world of reiving, backrents, outlawry and tower houses in which the Grahams and Armstrongs feud. Sir Robert Carey (a real historical figure) is appointed as deputy Warden in Carlisle to the dismay of Sir Richard Lowther and others who have purchased appointments and been displaced. Carey has three problems to solve; the shortage of horses in the open market; the murder of Sweetmilk Graham; the hostilit ...more
This is a really good book! It's set in the latter part of Queen Elizabeth's reign, and our protagonist is her cousin (through Mary Boleyn) Robert Carey. It's pretty amusing, the way the author depicts him as a courtier trying to get respect/control at the Scottish border. The mystery bit itself wasn't really the most interesting, but the descriptions and characterizations are fabulous and often quite funny. I had a hard time getting my hands on this one, but I do plan to eventually read more in ...more
Enjoyable! Though there was a great deal of unexplained coughing early on ... Still, a fun read. On to the next tale!
Hard to get into. Hard to get used to the language. I don't think I ever understood all the relationships of all of the main characters. It did get better as it went on, and towards the end there was some excellent philosophizing on the meaning and purpose of law and justice. I'll read the second one in the series eventually.
Frances Fuller
I will look forward to reading the rest of the series.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 26 27 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Firedrake's Eye (David Becket and Simon Ames, #1)
  • Wine of Violence (Medieval Mystery, #1)
  • The Harper's Quine (Gilbert Cunningham, #1)
  • The White Rose Murders (Sir Roger Shallot, #1)
  • Hue and Cry (Hew Cullan Mystery, #1)
  • Death Comes As Epiphany (Catherine LeVendeur, #1)
  • One for Sorrow (John the Eunuch, #1)
  • Prince (John Shakespeare, #3)
  • Reflecting the Sky (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith #7)
  • Faded Coat of Blue (Abel Jones, #1)
  • Thirteenth Night (Fools' Guild, #1)
  • The Cup of Ghosts (Mathilde of Westminster, #1)
  • Silver Lies (Silver Rush, #1)
  • My Lady Judge (Burren Mysteries, #1)
  • Roman Games: A Plinius Secundus Mystery
  • The Novice's Tale (Sister Frevisse, #1)
  • Sacrilege (Giordano Bruno #3)
  • Tabula Rasa (Gaius Petreius Ruso, #6)
A Season of Knives (Sir Robert Carey, #2) A Plague of Angels (Sir Robert Carey, #4) A Surfeit of Guns (Sir Robert Carey, #3) A Murder of Crows (Sir Robert Carey, #5) An Air of Treason (Sir Robert Carey, #6)

Share This Book