So, I’m not a big fan of horse fiction. At all. By horse fiction I mean books about little children (usually girls) who fall in love with a beautiful horse, can think of, dream of, and live with nothing else. This genre tends to be super repetitive.
But not King of the Wind. King of the Wind is in a different class altogether. It oozes of Arabian sand and high-blooded stallions. But before I get ahead of myself…
Agba has lost his heart; lost it to the beautiful mare, the mare who lives in the Sultan’s stables. The mare is a lovely thing and she holds a tiny foal deep within her tummy. Tonight is the night it will come into the world.
Agba is worried as he tends the mare throughout the night, but the morning sun shines on a new foal, spindly and small in the sunlight. His name will be Sham – the Arabic word for sun – and he will race as the wildest wind, for on his heel is the tiny white spot, the spot of swiftest. A champion among steeds has been born.
One day at the Sultan’s command, six stable boys stand before his majesty. He commands that these six boys and the six most magnificent horses in his stable be sent as a gift to King Louis XV and France. Agba and his Sham are chosen. They journey over land and the sea till they arrive in this foreign land of France. King Louis XV uses Sham for a short time, but soon Sham is sold, unjustly sold; sold to a driver of wagons.
As Sham is passed from owner to owner, Agba wonders at this. Will Sham ever be appreciated for his splendor and speed? Will he ever be sold to a man worthy to own the King of the Wind?
King of the Wind was remarkably clean.
It is mentioned that a wild boar was kept at the stables to keep evil spirits from entering into the horses.
Sham has two markings – one a wheat ear on his chest, the other a tiny spot of white on his heel. The mark on his chest is thought to be a symbol of evil, the white spot an emblem of swiftness. Once or twice in the course of the story, the wheat ear is blamed for unfortunate circumstances.
Before the stallions depart from Morocco, the Sultan ties a bag around each horse’s neck. The bags contain “the pedigree of each stallion. They also contain amulets of great power, amulets that will prevent and cure the bite of scorpions and protect your stallions from evil spirits.” [pg. 66] Agba is later very distressed when Sham’s bag is stolen from him.
When Sham is being passed from owner to owner, some treat Sham with more care while others are harsh. None are cruel, but extremely sensitive children might be sad until Sham is back with a good owner.
Conclusion. An inspiring fictionalized biography whose setting ranges from the opulent magnificence of a Sultan’s palace to the cramped stables of an English Inn. Its adventurous story and historical instruction will thrill its readers – especially those who love animals. Or horse stories. =)
Review © 2012 Laura Verret