Today I have a story in translation from a best-selling Spanish author, Gonzalo Giner. Historic fiction that is lyrical and evocative,with a touch of medieval science, drama and a hero to empathize with. Please read on for my review of
The Horse Healer
There’s no secret that I love my historic fiction, and The Horse Healer fits right into that obsession. Set in 12th century Iberia, the story follows Diego, after the murder of his father and kidnapping of his sisters in the power struggle between the Califate and the Christians in his small hometown near Toledo. At just 14, Diego is focused on avenging his losses, but realizes that he must bide his time and find a way to survive for both he and his horse.
Taken in by an abiétar (horse healer), Galib is a muslim, well versed in his craft, and willing to train Diego. Learning a craft and the gentle guidance of his mentor, Diego grows, and while never quite giving up the idea of vengeance, he’s often too busy learning and practicing his new skills. Great adventures, misadventures and enlightenment follow this young man in a time where tolerance was low, ignorance was high, and science was often mysterious and magical.
What stands out most in this story, aside from the inability to put it down, is the characters emotional overlay: the constant longing of Diego for things lost, the open and warm approach of Galib, the longing for more, and opening of potential. Travels into old texts of veterinary medicine Giner is able to explain and present the scientific in ways that bring those unfamiliar with veterinary medicine or horses a clear visual reference, you can feel as if you have a general grasp. Mixing in the historic events with practices and the never-ending action and adventures, the story flows from one moment to the next.
The synopsis for this story does not do it justice: lyrical writing that is richly evocative and layered, bringing us into the life and concerns of Diego. Gonzalo Giner’s writing is fluid and polished, even in translation the story is nuanced with tiny moments that elucidate elements and add that sense of ‘otherworldliness’ that is so necessary to capture a bygone era with justice, giving the reader a true sense of having been there, and being better informed and aware because of that journey.
Add this book to your to-read pile, you won’t regret the read.
Title: The Horse Healer
Author: Gonzalo Giner
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published by: Open Road Integrated Media
Published on: 14 April, 2015
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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His father dead, his sisters kidnapped, a boy with an intuition for horses flees his home and is taken in by a veterinarian during the turbulent years of the Reconquest of medieval Spain
At the border of the Christian kingdom of Castile and the Muslim caliphate of Al-Andalus, a little inn sits on the front lines of the battle for Iberia. When word travels that the most feared fighters of the Muslim world, the Imesebelen, are advancing on Toledo, the innkeeper tells his son, Diego, to flee with his sisters. But Diego refuses to abandon his father. The old man and one of his daughters are slaughtered, and the other two girls are kidnapped. Now there’s only one thought on Diego’s mind: revenge.
On his lightning-fast Arabian mare, Diego makes his way to Toledo. It is the start of a journey that will usher him into manhood and lead him to the dawn of a field of medicine that will change Spain—and the world—forever.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.