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The Horse Healer: A Novel

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,152 ratings  ·  113 reviews
His father dead, his sisters kidnapped, a boy with an intuition for horses flees his home and is taken in by a veterinarian during the turbulent years of the Reconquest of medieval Spain 

At the border of the Christian kingdom of Castile and the Muslim caliphate of Al-Andalus, a little inn sits on the front lines of the battle for Iberia. When word travels that the most fe
ebook, 564 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Grupo Planeta (first published 2008)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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Marie Clarisse

"The ability to grow in the face of adversity lies at the root of greatness, and overcoming it is a healthy stimulus for the heart. To learn from your errors makes you noble, and to be humble, in a world full of pride, is the key to happiness."

Wow. I asked for a book, and instead I got a journey—a journey so real, so live, that I was almost sure I watched it unfold before my very eyes.

The author created a masterpiece in the most tastefully artistic way, crafting every detail to perfe
Sharon Powers
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Book Review by:Sharon Powers.

As a young woman, my favorite novel was, Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell; I read this book more than thirty times because of my love for the story and, of course, for my love of horses. I was what people called, "horse crazy." My bedroom had books about horses, Breyer horse statues, horse magazines, horse stickers, and, of course, I watched horse movies whenever I could (International Velvet starring Elizabeth Taylor, etc.). I told everyone that I was going to grow up
Tina Collins
Mar 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
After reading the book’s synopsis I thought I would be in deep trouble; over complicated historic novels have a tendency to click a switch of understanding off in my brain. Weird, long names confuse me. Novels are like my food; if I have to fight with it, then all joy is taken out of it. Feel free to quote me on this.

I won’t say that I was pleasantly surprised because that is so cliche. Oh wait, I just did. Ignore that then.

Seriously, the novel, although appearing to be complex, is deceiving in
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The Horse Healer" is the story of Diego, a 13th Century Spanish boy, who has a gift for working with horses. His father is killed and his sisters kidnapped during the so-called Moorish occupation, and he escapes on his beloved Arabian mare, Sabba, determined to find them and defend their honor. In the mean while, though, he trains to be an albeitar -- a sort of horse veterinarian -- with a local Muslim doctor. He discovers not only an affinity for healing horses, but for language ... which allo ...more
Denis Mcgrath
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The author introduces us to the practices and texts of veterinary medicine in eleventh and twelfth century Spain through young Diego de Malagón who steps out of the tapestry of Spanish medieval history with his horse Sabba to escape the Muslim Imesebelen. His attempt to pursue a career as an albéitar or healer of horses takes many twists and turns with challenges in his apprenticeship that are unique and compelling. He does become a healer and also a spy, manages to save his sister from the Sult ...more
Ramon Serrat
Sep 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a book I read last year and I loved it. The story is set in the Middle Age in the Spanish Court. Life is about a boy called Diego, a guy that kills his familiy except two siters that were kidnapped. The following years he lives in Toledo with a house vet. After many years he joined a secret society that enters Muslim territory.
My point of view: It's a beautiful book to read because it explains the way of life at that time.
A Serious Lover
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Following the life of a young boy through manhood the history of Mulsim-Christian relations is documented. A very good historical fiction read.
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another historical fiction book about medieval Spain. It centers on one character, Diego, whose family lives on the border with the Muslim lands. Most of his family is murdered by the Muslims, and thus begins a long journey for Diego to find what to do with his life and to avenge his family's killings. His story is long and filled with many adventures, but I found it fascinating, especially since the Christian/Muslim animosity seems to continue with us to this very day. But Diego's story ...more
Sonia Googie
To me it has been a bit boring, and very little cohesive, it's too long for so little cohesion in the story. It was hard to finish.
Jay Chalmers
Mildly entertaining

Good story, not great. Too many unbelievable occurrences. The characters are interesting. If you have nothing else to read it is ok.
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating historical for those who enjoy the genre. Set in Medieval Spain during the war with the encroaching Muslims, this novel enlightens the time period and the political situation. A big plus, you get to learn about veterinary medicine during the time.

The characters were engaging as was the plot. I feel the author attempted to cram a lot into not enough pages. Either that, or he should have cut out a subplot or two. Still, I was glad to discover the novel. Especially, as there
Feb 07, 2015 rated it liked it
War is hell, especially if you are on the losing side. And in 12th Century Spain it is doubly hellish when the victors are the Imesebelen, the fanatical soldiers of the Almohad Caliphate. At the age of fourteen, Diego has seen his father and older sister, Belinda, murdered and two other sisters, Blanca and Estella, enslaved following the Muslim victory at Alarcos in 1195. Confused and alone, he can only join the thousands of Christian refugees streaming northward out of the newly conquered lands ...more
Matthew Jackson
The Spanish author Gonzalo Giner should, if this novel is representative of his body of work, be a far better known name in the world of literature. I love Spanish literature, and I love to read literature in translation, so I had a pretty good idea that I would enjoy this novel. What a joy to discover Giner, and to live in his world for a while. It made my life richer, spending time with Diego in Medieval Spain.

My notes about the novel were quite simple – beautiful.

I honestly didn’t write anyth
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was given a copy by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

*Slight Spoilers!*

In all honesty, I was disappointed by this book in the end. It started off great - until Diego decided to get the hots for his boss' wife. From that point onwards, it took me a very long time and many stops and starts to finish it. Added to this, I ended up discussing it with my friends, and they quickly became irritated at Diego despite not reading the book at all.

What bothered me was that he could do nothing wro
There’s no secret that I love my historic fiction, and The Horse Healer fits right into that obsession. Set in 12th century Iberia, the story follows Diego, after the murder of his father and kidnapping of his sisters in the power struggle between the Califate and the Christians in his small hometown near Toledo. At just 14, Diego is focused on avenging his losses, but realizes that he must bide his time and find a way to survive for both he and his horse.

Taken in by an abiétar (horse healer),
This book is about the history of Spain between 1195 and 1212. If you're intrigued primarily by the "horse healer history" aspect, I'll warn you that it's only a small part of the story. Diego doesn't even met the horse healer until page 42. In the first 250 pages of the book, only about 17 pages described horse healing activities. The story is about politics, religion, science, rape, sex, seduction, violence, and death. The author has clearly done a lot of research into the time period, but it ...more
Clare O'Beara
Feb 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a novel of turbulent Spain in medieval times, when a young man is forced to leave his simple home and head for the city of Toledo. He brings only his prized mare, and a love of learning.

Diego has seen the death of his parents and abduction of his sisters by Saracen forces from North Africa. This is not a tale for the faint-hearted but shows us how ordinary people had to struggle to survive and keep our civilisation alive. Toledo, a walled city, houses three religions side by side, and t
Eddie Callaway
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
Disclaimer: This review is based on the ARC of The Horse Healer.

The novel had some serious ups and downs and a lot of clunky writing. Granted, it was a translated version so that would account for some of the wording issues, but not so much with some of the bigger picture writing style issues.

Essentially, much of the writing consisted of over explanation: I felt like I needed to do something because... I did that something... this is how I felt after doing that something. It became redundant and
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When you can't wait to find out what happens next, you know you have a good read. The best books, in my opinion, weave a good story with some accurate history. I haven't seen many English speaking authors treat this period of history from this area, so I dove in and was pleasantly surprised to find the author writing with a world view, treating all the players with equality. I was also surprised to find this was the authors' first attempt. Highly enjoyable and entertaining. Well written with a m ...more
Polly Krize
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest opinion.

Historical fiction set in the 1100s, the time of the Crusades. After witnessing the murder of his father and a sister, Diego vows to find his other two sisters, who have been enslaved by Muslims. Working in a Muslim stable he learns about horses and their diseases and starts find a life in this violent time. I had not been aware of Gonzalo Giner before, so this book is a fine introduction to his work.

Note: I read the English versio
As a veterinarian is almost a book to read just for respect for the veterinarian author. Not bad. A fellow college lent me the book to read. I expected more clinical descriptions but was more a historical fiction than anything else. It was very disappointing. It was intertaining but is not a book to pick more than one time.
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I truly enjoyed this book and it was full of all sorts of historical facts that were so interesting. My only reason for not giving this book 5 stars is because at times it just got slow and almost dull. Which was kind of weird since for the most part the book was an easy read that flowed nicely. Diego's tribulations and his love of horses were spun out in sections which I found enjoyable.
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
After reading a quarter of this book, I should be more engaged than I am. I'm not sure why. Perhaps I need to resume reading it at a different time. I'm not connecting with the characters. I appreciate the opportunity to read this book but I do need to shelve at this time.
Amanda Moeller
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite book in Spanish
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
DNF. The writing felt so awkward and choppy, I didn't even make it through the inciting incident.
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Received from firstreads. Wow. One of the best books I've read in a long time.
Rhonda Brandon
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fantastic! The history in this book is amazing and the story is so captivating. One of my new favorites. A MUST read!!!!
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, that could have used an epilogue. Overall, not perfect, but I really admire the effort that went into researching this book. I had no idea that Spain was occupied by Muslims in medieval times.
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't say anything but extraordinary
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Gonzalo Giner debutó en el mundo literario en 2004 con el libro La cuarta alianza, pero fue la novela El sanador de caballos, su proyecto más personal, la que alcanzó cotas de crítica y público más elevadas. Desde entonces su autor se ha convertido en un referente dentro de la literatura popular.
Veterinario de profesión, con aquel título quiso investigar el origen de su oficio; con su nueva obra,

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“Sueña con metas altas y volarás como las águilas. Eso debes hacer, alcanzar las cumbres de la vida. Busca al que sea sabio y aprende con él. Usa bien la ambición sin por ello dañar a nadie. No hagas que tengan que recriminarte en tu trabajo, hazlo siempre bien. E intenta ganar cuando te hagan competir. No te dejes avasallar por nadie y aunque hayas nacido en un hogar humilde, no te consideres por ello indigno. Si luchas con esfuerzo, conseguirás todo lo que te propongas.” 2 likes
“competir. No te dejes avasallar por nadie y aunque hayas nacido en un hogar humilde, no te consideres por ello indigno. Si luchas con esfuerzo, conseguirás todo lo que te propongas. Y por último, cuida y protege a tus hermanas, llevan tu misma sangre... Hijo mío, jamás olvides que tuviste un padre que te quiso más que a nada en el mundo, y que un día, orgulloso, te mirará desde el cielo.» Delante” 0 likes
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