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A Famine of Horses (Sir Robert Carey #1)

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  721 Ratings  ·  79 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)
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Dec 13, 2015 Phrynne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a promising start indeed to a new (to me) series. I always enjoy a good historical mystery and this one was very good indeed. The author writes beautifully and I immediately fell for the main character Sir Robert Carey. The story is set in Elizabethan times and the main characters are based on real people from those times. The descriptions of life at that time are gritty and realistic. Think of fleas in your bed, lice in your hair and weevils in your bread. Not good! Sir Robert is charm ...more
Oct 10, 2015 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Based on the real life character of Robert Carey, cousin of Elizabeth I and most likely grandson of Henry VIII (his father was born to Mary Boleyn while she was Henry's mistress) and set in the unstable borderlands between Scotland and England in 1592. Elizabeth I is nearing the end of her reign in England and James VI is on the throne in Scotland. Robert Carey has left his place as a favourite in Elizabeth's court to flee his debtors and take up the position of Deputy Warden in Carlisle at the
Howard White
Feb 20, 2011 Howard White rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 it was amazing  ·  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.

Dec 01, 2012 pdarnold rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-historic
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
Aug 04, 2011 Mark rated it it was ok
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
Oct 17, 2010 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Karen Brooks
Mar 22, 2015 Karen Brooks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Sir Robert Carey mystery, set during the last years of Elizabeth 1st's reign, has the intrepid courtier and cousin to the Queen, Robert Carey, sent to the borderlands to take up the post of Deputy Warden. The new warden, Lord Scrope, also happens to be Carey's insipid brother-in-law from whom Carey cannot expect any support as he attempts to tackle the corruption extant on the border between Scotland and England, but also solve a brutal murder before simmering clan conflicts erupt once more ...more
Brenda Mengeling
Sep 22, 2013 Brenda Mengeling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, fiction, ebook, 49
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
Sep 23, 2011 Gregory House rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tudor
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
Feb 27, 2014 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
I only got to page 73, so I will not rate this book, but my stopping before the end should tell you the rating would not be high.
I assume the historical setting is accurate, but the period is portrayed as so lawless and unpleasant that I did not want to stay in it any longer. The protagonist is very much a man of his era,so I wasn't crazy about him either, even though the author in her introduction calls him a "charmer".
The book is replete with archaic terms so abstruse that the kindle dictionar
Mar 18, 2015 Annette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a ripping good story.

Robert Carey was a real man who was a contemporary of Elizabeth I of England. He became the 1st Earl of Monmouth because of his deeds in service to the crown.

He had many different adventures in real life and this is a story of what might have happened when he was sent to the border area between Scotland and England. He did hold a position of power in the border area and he did help settle some of the feuds that were going on during his time there.

This book is filled
John Stewart
Fans of mysteries and historical fiction should like the P.F. Chisholms' Sir Robert Cary series which begins with "A Famine of Horses". If you also like westerns then this series will also take your fancy even though it is set in 16th century England in the wild West March rather than the Wild, Wild West. The story is about a law man who comes to bring law and justice to the lawless Scottish border, The fact that the main character, Sir Robert Cary, actually existed adds additional texture to th ...more
Apr 17, 2014 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Patricia Finney is using the pen name "P.F. Chisholm" for the Robert Carey novels. In them, she may be channeling her inner "Deadwood" since 1592 on England's northern border is every bit as rough and ready as the American West's Dakota Territory in the latter stages of the 19th Century.

Robert Carey is a recognized figure at Court and something of a favorite of Queen Elizabeth. The device for moving him from the world of manners (and backstabbing) to the world of deeds (and front-stabbing) is u
Really enjoyed this. I've been a fan of Patricia Finney's books but actually bought this (it sounded interesting) before I realized that she and PF Chisholm were the same person. If you like Elizabethan history, well-written mysteries or tales of the Scottish border, I highly recommend this series. Although this statement is based on just this one book, but I suspect that the others are equally engaging.
Jun 19, 2010 Grey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Alison Dellit
This isn't the heights of the Robert Carey novels, there's a bit too much set-up, and transition, and the Borderlanders are a little too close to caricature for my liking, but it effectively introduces the main characters, and the description of the siege is pure gold - it is really Chisholm's keen sense of hilarity-derived-from-character that is the highlight here.
Jul 07, 2008 Rowena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 30, 2007 Alison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 21, 2009 Deirdre rated it liked it
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
Jan 09, 2009 Scott Harris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Lexie Conyngham
Feb 04, 2015 Lexie Conyngham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For some reason I'd thought this was going to be silly, and had put off reading it until I was in the mood. It wasn't silly - there was plenty of humour, some of it pretty base, but just right for a troop of local law enforcers in the Debatable Lands between England and Scotland in the days of Queen Elizabeth. I found myself forgetting that this had not been written at the time, so easy was the writing and the setting, and the plot, though not too complex, moved along at a cracking pace. I found ...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.
MB (What she read)
Jul 25, 2009 MB (What she read) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to MB (What she read) 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.)
Sep 03, 2015 Kathy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This came as a recommendation from Diana Gabaldon, P. F. Chisholm is a friend of hers and writes along the same story lines as Diana. Unfortunately for me the book was tedious and felt if it was written as a history text than a historical novel. The book is based on a real person who struggles in the wilds of Scotland. The story did not flow in a novel way and made it difficult to follow the plot. What kept me reading as long as I did was the mention of a women named Philadelphia. It was an odd ...more
Aug 17, 2010 Diana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good book. Carey seemed very real!
Apr 30, 2009 Diane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mature-reads
Great historical mystery series
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