I was a kid who took riding lessons, went to horse-centric summer camps, and spent recess in 5th and 6th grades pretending to be a horse with my similarly horse-obsessed friends. Not surprisingly, I read a bunch of horse books, including some by Marguerite Henry—but I don’t think I ever read King of the Wind, though I definitely remember seeing it on the shelf at the library. I’m not sure if I picked it up but wasn’t into it (historical fiction was not particularly my thing, with the exception of All-of-a-Kind Family) or if I never actually tried to read it.

Anyway: it’s the (fictionalized) story of the (real) Godolphin Arabian, whose famous racehorse descendants include Man o’ War and Seabiscuit. The book actually begins with the story of Man o’ War’s last race, which I didn’t know about, and then jumps back in time to Morocco in the 1700s, where a mute stableboy named Agba is caring for a pregnant mare, who has a foal who Agba calls Sham (who grows up to be the Godolphin Arabian). Sham and Agba endure various trials (and are separated and reunited more than once) as they go from Morocco to France (where Sham is a gift to Louis XV) to England; the connection between the horse and the boy is at the center of the story (and made me teary-eyed a few times as I read).

Marguerite Henry’s prose in this book isn’t always lyrical, but I like it when it is, like when she describes the scents Sham notices around him in Morocco: “The delicious fragrance of clover, the biting smell of smoke from the burning stubble of cornfields, the perfume from orange and lime groves, the spicy aroma of pine woods from beyond the city wall, the musky smell of the wild boar, the cool, moisture-laden scent of the clouds that blew over the snow-topped mountains.”

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