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Black Horses for the King

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  2,605 Ratings  ·  130 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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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
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
Oct 04, 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
Aug 30, 2016 Marva rated it really liked it
Not much need for a review. After all, its author is Anne McCaffrey. That's recommendation enough right there.

On the other hand, this is not a fantasy book like her Dragonrider series. While set in Arthurian times, Merlin isn't hanging around casting spells, there are no magic swords, the lake contains only fish, not mermaids.

Since this book appears to be out of print, you'll have to look for a used copy. Some are offered on Amazon. There is no ebook version I know about.

Anyway, find a copy if y

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.
It's a slow-paced tale about (Welsh/Roman) King Arthur's farrier. IDK you're either here for it or you're not.
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.
Feb 23, 2011 Jessica rated it liked it
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.
Dec 22, 2008 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice little book about King Arthur's cavalry. An interesting aside from the author says that Black Horse Inns only appear along the route Arthur would have used in fighting the Saxons.
Michael crage
Jun 12, 2017 Michael crage rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
McCaffrey is best know for her science-fantasy series about the dragon riders of Pern, but this book proves she can write anything she wants to and do an excellent job. This book is kind of an king Aurthian book. It is told from the view point of what starts out as a young lad, Galwyn. Of course since the timeline of the book is years, he grows up. He runs away from his uncle's ship and joins Lord Artos (Kind Aurthur), and his ability to translate into and from many languages and dialects makes ...more
Quite a different book by Anne McCaffrey than the ones that drew me to her as an author. She's done excellent research on farriers and Arthurian times to bring a story of a young man serving his Lord Artos, a fictional account of something that could have happened. The narrative itself did not always flow as smoothly as her sci-fi writings, but it was charming nonetheless.
Mar 21, 2017 Jodi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting well-written book but I'm not sure how much it really added to my boys' knowledge. I shouldn't review books based on how well it works for our curriculum, but since that is why I read them, I'm going to anyway. I am now interested to learn more about how the horseshoe came about from reading this book so there's that.
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
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
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
Oct 01, 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

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
Clare Farrelly
Mar 16, 2015 Clare Farrelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 15, 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
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
Feb 22, 2011 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
Sep 21, 2008 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
Feb 25, 2013 Whitney rated it really liked it
"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
Dec 03, 2010 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
Jan 15, 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
Douglas Milewski
Nov 27, 2016 Douglas Milewski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Black Horses for the King (1996) by Anne McCaffrey is a divergence from her usual fantasy and SF fare. In this historical fiction, aimed at young adults, a boy helps King Arthur buy horses, and in doing so, helps him to create the cavalry of Camelot.

The story is first person and mostly straight forward. There isn't much cleverness going on, but there doesn't need to be. The tale itself is experiential, at that cusp where a boy turns into a man, and where his fortunes change from subordinate to p
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
Jul 20, 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
Stacy Renee  (LazyDayLit)
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
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Anne McCaffrey was born on April 1st, 1926, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Her parents were George Herbert McCaffrey, BA, MA PhD (Harvard), Colonel USA Army (retired), and Anne Dorothy McElroy McCaffrey, estate agent. She had two brothers: Hugh McCaffrey (deceased 1988), Major US Army, and Kevin Richard McCaffrey, still living.

Anne was educated at Stuart Hall in Staunton Virginia, Montclair High Scho
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