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Historical Fiction that gives an insight to Richard the Lion Heart and his Crusades--from both sides of the coin. Blood Red Horse, by K. M. Grant, is the gripping first book in The deGranville Trilogy.
This book has always ranked in my top favorites. Though it isn't fantasy, it pulls you through the pages of history and plunges you into adventure along side characters you can truly learn to love.
Blood Red Horse, the first book in the trilogy, follows a boy, his brother, and a mischievous girl from Hartlove castle in England.
William is the younger brother and has suffered torment at his older brother, Gavin's, hands for years. He wants nothing more than to prove himself to everyone, to show that he can be just as strong as his brother and twice as fierce. These are the thoughts that he rants to his best friend, Gavin's long betrothed future wife, Ellie.
After a long time of pleading, he is at last granted the chance at his first warhorse. However, when he goes to find the perfect warhorse of his dreams, it is the small red stallion that catches his eye.
And what a stallion this horse is.
Hosanna and Will begin learning together, the horse challenging his young charge at every turn, and both maturing into better beings for one another. They see one another through trials of life, through heartbreak, and through the turmoil of the middle ages.
And it's together that William and Hosanna are called to join the armies marching and sailing for the Holy Land. With his father, his brother, and his horse, Will is sent to the middle east to fight for the Holy Land.
Meanwhile, in his homeland, Kamil is a Muslim boy who has lost everything to the Crusades. His family slaughtered, his home ripped away from him, he has been taken under the wing of the kind Sultan but, despite the Koran's teaching of love and forgiveness, he wants nothing more than to make those who destroyed his life suffer.
Thus it is that when he and Will cross paths, he intends to kill the boy on the flaming red horse. But, claiming the horse, he finds he does not have the heart to kill the boy that the horse so clearly loves. Instead, taking the horse for his own, he believes he will never see Will again.
He does not realize that Hosanna, the horse he has stolen, The Red Horse, is not just saving William in that moment. He is starting his journey to save young Kamil as well.
While the war rages far from home, Ellie and those in Hartslove are not left without their own trials and troubles, though. The steward of the castle, a coward and greed constable, is working to steal away the fortune and favor of the crusaders.
Now, in the challenges of war, in the theft of Hartslove, it seems that things may never be the same. Can one red horse save two troubled souls?
Can they survive long enough to return to England and save Hartslove from the greed of others?
This is an old favorite of mine. I discovered it years and years ago and have always carried a copy since. This under-rated historical fiction can pull you in and keep you spinning through history, pages, and the plight of a holy war.
K. M. Grant does a superb job of bringing accurate history to grueling life, bringing the horror of medieval war forward and giving you characters that are well rounded, full of their own personalities, and given redemption from the hardships that shape them.
If you enjoy horses (of course!) and history, this book is a must read.
A five out of five.