Book Cover
Title The Blue Roan Child
Series ---
Author Jamieson Findlay
Cover Art Harvey Chan
Publisher Random House - 2002
First Printing Random House - 2002
Category General
Warnings None

Main Characters

Syeira, Arwin

Main Elements Horses, pegasus

"Nobody knew much about Syeira, except that she had been born in a river stable among old horses and the ghosts of horses."

So begins The Blue Roan Child, and unforgettable story about the magical bond between a young girl and a wild mare.

Syeira lives in Haysele, a land of horses and horse-sensitives. Fate pairs her with the wild mare Arwin when Arwin's two colts are taken from her. An orphan herself, Syeira decides to help Arwin rescue the colts. Syeira understands the young horses will be feeling frightened and alone, and she knows they must be found, even if she must risk her life to do so.

With only each other to trust, Syeira and Arwin embark on a dangeous quest to free the young horses. Their mission proves harder than they imagined, for the fearsome Lord Ran had taken the colts far away to Thruckport, his fortified city by the sea. Syeira and Arwin first cross a treacherous river and pass through a dark forest, filled with dangerous beasts and poisonous and intoxicating plants. When they finally arrive at the edge of the city, their mission seems even more impossible, as Thurckport is surrounded by an immense stone wall and guarded by armed soldiers.

Although Lord Ran relies on intimidation and warfare to control his empire, it is less secure than he thinks. Rebel forces are gathering against him, and a few brave souls are ready to risk their lives to help Syeira and Arwin. Even so, it will take all of their courage to save the colts.

Like Philip Pullman's His Dark Material trilogy and J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, Jamieson Findlay's The Blue Roan Child is an enchanting story for readers young and old.

I picked up this book because it was one of those cheap hardcovers that big bookstores try to get rid of. It was about horses, and had a fantasy twist, so I felt I couldn't go wrong.

And it was true, it wasn't a bad book. In particular I enjoyed how Findlay described the way horses communicate. As they think in "smells", they communicate through their breath. I thought that was the most magical thing, and quite believable if you've ever witnessed horses breath softly into each other's nostrils. Perhaps it is more than sharing each other's scent, but rather they are breathing memories to each other. I've blown into a horse's nostrils before, and it is such a thrill when they puff back at you. A kind of bond, and honour one wouldn't expect to receive from such a noble creature.

The imagery was also quite fascinating. Such as when Syeira eats a hallucinatoric plant while in the forest, or when Ran speaks of the island of bad dreams. And the Shrike was really something a really creepy way. Syeira meets up with war horses, broken and insane, a trader woman that sells a potion that lets you pick synonyms from a tree in your mind, and horsemen who knows what scents causes horse to run in disgust or follow you without question. And of course, the white-winged aerlings.

But I found the tale didn't have that much in it to make it stand out from all other "orphans on a quest" stories. And I found the ending quite disappointing. In truth, there were several characters for which I think he should have dedicated more pages to, filled them out a bit more. Such as the warlord Ran, and the gypsy Davy. We also never find out for certain about Syeira's past, though there are big hints, but I'm not sure younger readers would make the connection? Maybe I'm underestimating them, or I'm making connections where there shouldn't be. I don't mind not having all the loose ends wrapped up, but I don't expect that in a young adult novel.

His horses, given that a few were a little more intelligent than average, were actually quite well portrayed I thought. Considering he wrote in the epilogue that he didn't know anything about equines when he started! I thought they were plausible, and certainly didn't act human in any way.

So in conclusion, it was worth the price I paid for it, but I wouldn't have spent the original 27.95 for it. Nor would I compare it to His Dark Materials or Harry Potter, as the dust jacket did. But if you are a fan of horses, especially those with a little magic mixed in, then you will probably enjoy this book.

Posted: April 2008


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