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Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
Horse Boy by Lew Anderson is the first book in The Lorian Chronicles. Young Red knew the danger of entering the forbidden grasses. He could even hear his mother's warnings but he couldn't leave the girl to be bait for the giant eagle flying overhead. He couldn't leave her to suffer the same fate that had befallen his father. Red has been an outcast since birth, having been born under the moon that represented the god known for conjuring tricks. In two days would be the pallendore, but they would never let him fight for fear of letting him win the heart of one of the village daughters. Yet he couldn't shake the memory of the girl Chia he rescued whose smile captured his heart. Red is driven out of his home with his only companions being Chia and his horse Faster whom he had rescued as a colt from the Token River and had the peculiar gift of understanding speech. Rescuing Chia was never meant to toss him into the thick of war or to pit him against a journey filled with monsters.
The high fantasy world Lew Anderson has created is a stunning and vivid reality that provides a consistent backdrop with dangers including monsters and pirates. The world comes to life through the language, environment, and culture woven throughout the story in words such as the “ka ye’ or half-moon, the shouting boolas, prowlers, and drog’s filth. The beauty found in the details is a clear example of the solid writing style such as twilight’s last glow, the ship slowly melding into the horizon, the cavern of nightmares, and the morning buzzing with life and song. Anderson features subtle but strong themes throughout Red's journey. The first is the struggle against evil which is apparent throughout the various war elements and the evil Red fights against. Another repetitive theme is mercy. Anderson succeeds in creating poignant moments such as Red using a name he shouldn't, only to be told that words have power and to use them with care. These small interludes speak volumes as they resonate while you continue to read and make Horse Boy a truly special story. A fast-paced adventure that explores a beautiful and dangerous world and delivers a hero's journey that will be hard to forget.