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The Blue Roan Child    by Jamieson Findlay order for
Blue Roan Child
by Jamieson Findlay
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2002 (2002)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Syeira grows up in a stable in Haysele, whose king breeds horses. She becomes fond of a blue roan mare and her yearling colts, captured in Arva, land of especially wild, aggressive horses. Then Ran, the despot ruler of a northern empire arrives on his yearly visit to buy horses, and leaves with the colts. Syeira releases and rides their mother in search of them. She discovers that the mare (whom she names Arwin) is intelligent, thinks in smells, and can 'breathe its thoughts into her head.'

They meet various eccentrics along the way. There is a 'hackler' (a skilled horseman) who tells Syeira about 'scent pictures' and advises traveling through the forest of Deire. Herbalist Zephyra shares a story of the mare's past, warns of rogue gypsy Blacklock Davy's 'heart of wormwood' and supplies potions and other supplies. And the delightful Sir Gemynd O'Smeagreson Smeath shows them the way through Deire, though he has trouble remembering who they are.

They finally reach Ran's fearsome, fortified city of Thurckport, where, after many scouting ventures, Syeira locates the colts. Their rescue involves a 'warboy' (hot air balloon), a fighting crone named Grulla, a thrilling sea chase involving Blacklock Davy, 'mechanicals' and winged horses. There is plenty of action, and an encounter with the nightmare-ridden Ran, before Syeira helps Arwin and her colts to Arva and meets the Stablecharm Man.

The Blue Roan Child is an exciting, imaginative story about horses, magic, and the defeat of an evil empire. It ended with many unanswered questions about its heroine's history, leaving plenty of room for a sequel. I look forward to it.

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