Black Horses for the King
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Black Horses for the King

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  1,888 ratings  ·  94 reviews
Galwyn, son of a Roman Celt, escapes from his tyrannical uncle and joins Lord Artos, later know as King Arthur, using his talent with languages and way with horses to help secure and care for the Libyan horses that Artos hopes to use in battle against the Saxons.
Paperback, 206 pages
Published July 29th 1998 by Del Rey Books (first published April 1st 1996)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Nikki
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...more
Sara
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.
Jennifer

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.
Jean
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.
Megan
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...more
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...more
Whitney
"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...more
Simon Mcleish
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...more
Laura
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...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Rebecca Wells for TeensReadToo.com

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...more
Brie
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...more
Sara
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...more
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
Michelle
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...more
Erin
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.
Laura
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...more
Anna
I was pleasantly surprised with this novel. After reading Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums, I had figured out that I wasn't a huge fan of McCaffrey. But her historical fiction is far more pleasurable to read than her fantasy, due to my tastes. I loved reading about Galwyn's journey and his care of the Libyan horses. The only two things I found distasteful were the hard-to-pronounce Latin/Celtic names (which is a personal distaste, rather than McCaffrey's own fault) and McCaffrey's near...more
Stacy
When I picked this book off the shelf at the library I didn't know that it was going to be a spin on Arthurian fiction. I really just needed something to hold me over while I waited for another book to come in and thought Anne McCaffrey might be a good choice. It has been about five years since I read anything by her.
If you are a big fan of Arthurian fiction, I wouldn't particularly suggest this book. While it does have a little to do with Arthur (Artos, Comes Brittanorum, as he is known in thi...more
Tamara Richman
This was such an unexpected treat! I read through the entire Dragons of Pern series when I was pregnant with Cameron but hadn't touched a McCaffrey book in 12 years. I'm also not a big Arthurian legend fan. All that being said, this was a wonderful juvenile/young adult book about a young boy who is willingly taken by Comtes Artos to acquire and care for war horses big enough to carry Arthur and his knights in armor so he can win control of the whole of the British Isles. Arthur and his cohort ma...more
Shenek
Explained the work of a farrier in a fictional setting. A good job of explaining and a poor job of character development.
Lucinda
Great book! I read it to see if it was age appropriate for the boys in my knights class and the rating was for 9-12 years old, but I loved it for me! If you love stories of King Arthur but want a fresh perspective, this is the one to read. She was a famous author before attempting this book and wrote it because a friend requested that she write it without any of the typical Hollywood spin on all of the other King Arthur books out there. For the kids, it has great new vocabulary and so much inter...more
Sara floerke
This one was better than Bloodline, of course I really enjoy McCaffrey. But it wasn't a "wonderful" book. Historical Fiction about the King Arthur time period. McCaffrey tried hard to stay away from the cliche King Arthur. In fact, the story doesn't resemble King Arthur at all. The protaganist is a stable boy who works for Arthur and Arthur is a side character (which I found refreshing). Probably the best thing from this book was what I learned about horses and the historical background on horse...more
Erika
The book “Black Horses for the King” written by Anne McCaffrey is about the young runaway Galwyn Varianus whose gift with horses would come in handy for Lord Artos. After finding the needed
(And best) Libyan mares and stallions Lord Artos, Galwyn, and others get on the road to Deva. Encountering problems on the way there, they lose or kick out a member of the group and Galwyn and Canyd created iron horse shoes for the horses.
They soon make it to Deva and fight the Saxons.
I thought that this bo...more
Maureen E
An Arthurian re-telling? By Anne McCaffrey? Why, yes! It was a little weird to read it, especially after having read The Winter Prince so recently; she uses several of the same names and locations. Nonetheless, these are entirely different stories. This one ended very abruptly and I wasn’t entirely satisfied. (Is it part of a series? I’m too lazy to look it up on Wikipedia. A new depth to which I have fallen.) But it’s an interesting look into a particular period of history, especially equine hi...more
Erica
Black Horses for the King tells the story of a young boy who enters the service of King Arthur as a translator to help him buy the horses he needs to build up a cavalry to help unite Britain and defeat the Saxons. I read this as a possible gift for someone who likes horses (hi Christen!). I didn’t end up giving it to her, but I still found it an enjoyable, easy read. I can’t remember if this book is for young adults or not, but I think it makes a nice young adult book. It is written clearly and...more
Tina
I am such a fan of Anne McCaffrey's work. Also, I make it a practice to read any Arthurian legend I can get my hands on. When I saw this worn paperback at the used bookstore, I had a hunch it would be an important part of my collection. I was not disappointed in McCaffrey's well researched account of my favorite legends. She does beautiful work and always manages to captivate me with her well chosen words. My heart soared with this one as much as it did while visiting Pern. Well worth every mome...more
Linnae
An account of a young man's contribution to King Arthur's military campaign, by way of his expertise with horses and his skill with the latest innovation: making iron horseshoes.

As to be expected from McCaffrey, well-written, with engaging characters and plot. I especially enjoyed her efforts to base it more on the historical Arthur than the legendary man. Plus, I was fascinated by the historical significance of the king's "black horses" and the horse shoes, and the remnants of those times stil...more
David
This book is very different from any of Anne McCaffrey's other books. I read it years ago and remember loving it. There are definitely elements of the story that are a far cry from perfection, but still, I really enjoy this story. It is one of the most interesting views of tale of King Arthur and, much like the Bollywood movie Lagaan which is surprisingly good despite being a 4-hour movie about Cricket, this is a great tale based primarily on horseshoes.
Ashton
Interesting, pretty well written, and I felt more for a younger audience than the book jacket leads you to believe. It was a fun portrayal of a King Arthur story, more historical fiction than fantasy, and I had fun reading it. Other than that there's not a lot to say - I was interested in the history laid out here, and in all the research the author did to write the story, and it was good. It wasn't really a King Arthur story in the way you expect it to be.
Trixie Vardon
This was really different from Ms. McCaffrey's normal routine work, however, as per usual she does not dissappoint. Her flow of writing is always impeccable.

If you like horses, or are even perhaps intrigued by them, this is a little slice of 'history' that will pique your interest, it certainly did mine, and I highly recommend it as a nice little read.

Very informative, and as always, the heart is pulled.
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26
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...more
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