Ken's Reviews > The Mark of the Horse Lord

The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff
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's review
Oct 03, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: ya, finished-in-2009
Read in October, 2009

Haven't read a Sutcliff? Quit horsing around and get with the program. Her enthusiasts (almost cult-like) say she's one of the best YA historical fiction writers ever. All I can say is, "Sure looks like a book for adults to me!" No, no. Get your mind out of the gutter. This does not mean the book is rife with rape, pillaging, and gore. It's clean. But the writing! I'm sorry, but this lady did not write like any YA fare I'm familiar with "these days." A real "writer's writers," she goes for deeper descriptions, more complex sentences, and all manner of historically-accurate terminology (bothy? breeks?) that will leave you scratching your 21st-century head.

Anyway, all you need know is that it is a "gladiator-to-riches" story in which Phaedrus is plucked from the Corstopitum and cast in the look-alike role of Horse Lord -- or King of the Dalraidians. The real king was blinded by an evil (Disneyeque) Queen who cackles for us now and and again and is marvelously slippery in her escapes. A dangerous mission? Uh, yeah, and Phaedrus learns the hard way.

Reluctant reading teens will be drawn by the fine cover (now that's marketing) but lost in the writing (at least after the fight-to-the-death gladiator scene in Ch. 1). Better to share this with more advanced readers and fans of first-century British history (their numbers are legion, I'm sure!).
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Reading Progress

10/11/2009 page 123
42.56% "Houyhnhnm!"
10/14/2009 page 217
75.09% "Whinney. Snort. Lip curl..."
02/12/2017 marked as: read
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Anna (new) - added it

Anna Walls Ha, and they said my stuff was too much for young adults.

message 2: by Ken (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ken Does everything end happily ever after -- in First Century Britain? Are you kidding me?

Uh, no. Not even close.

message 3: by Anna (new) - added it

Anna Walls Ah well, I like happy endings. That doesn't mean that the journey was a smooth one.

Rose I think that in her day, young adults were actually young adults, not oversized children. The normal YA fare from those days is a lot more mature in tone than what we have now! I read old YA historical fiction all the time.

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