- Virginia Johnson
As K.M. Grant’s Blood Red Horse opens, young Will has just been dunked in a horse trough by his blustering brother Gavin—though he gave him a bloody nose in return. But Gavin’s teasing doesn’t keep Will from wanting a Great Horse—one that he can ride into battle when he’s a knight like his brother.
Yet when the time comes to choose a horse from his father’s stable, Will doesn’t pick a gigantic creature designed to carry a man in armor and his weapons. He chooses instead Hosanna, a relatively small Great Horse whose courage, intelligence, and swiftness make up for his size. Ellie, the boys’ foster sister, loves the horse as much as anyone. She is wistful, for she sees their happy childhood ending as the young men grow up, get ready for war, and go away to fight in the Middle East.
K.M. Grant does a tremendous job of capturing the grittiness, loss, and occasional elation of medieval battle. The Muslims’ points of view are sketched as well as those of the Crusaders, particularly those of their leaders, the Sultan Saladin and King Richard. As Gavin and Will learn and barely survive hard lessons on crusade, Ellie has her own worries at home as her guardians prove to be untrustworthy.
The blood red horse Hosanna is at the center of the story. No matter the harsh circumstances, he seems to have a mystic quality to him that calms and inspires, and everyone, from the Christian monks to the Muslim emirs, recognizes this.
Blood Red Horse is the first of a trilogy featuring the de Granville family and a special horse. It is followed by Green Jasper and Blaze of Silver. This is a good series for readers who like horse stories and histories.