Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Classics Club #4: Son of the Black Stallion

When Alec receives the Black Stallion’s first son as a gift, he believes his dreams have come true. The colt has the spirit and build to become a champion racehorse like his father. But like his wild Arabian ancestors, he has the instincts of a killer and a deep distrust of all humans. Still, Alec is resolved to gain the fiery colt’s trust, even if he must risk his life to do it. (Yearling, a Random House Publisher)

Satan, the fiery son of the Black, arrives in New York in late August, over a year since Alec rode his beloved black stallion in Arabia’s famous test of endurance, courage, and speed. Alec and his mentor Henry Dailey have plotted to run the colt in the prestigious Hopeful Stakes two years hence, but they haven’t bargained on Satan being true to his name. And they certainly haven’t thought that he would retain that inherent viciousness for months.

Farley has some method of holding readers’ interest to the point that, near the end of the book, they don’t want to put it down. Still, this third book in The Black Stallion series wasn’t nearly as riveting as The Black Stallion Returns, and it was simultaneously less realistic. All horses, including the majestic “wild stallions,” are prey animals, choosing flight rather than fight unless there is no other option. The horse in this novel, Satan, is evil, like his namesake, but the truth is that an animal can’t exactly be that. They follow their instincts. A mountain cat may be thought wicked for hurting a human, but all they’re doing is hunting for food. A misbehaving equine might be called mean, but in truth if there’s a behavioral problem with a horse, it’s generally much more reliable to blame the owner or rider, not the horse itself. So much of the plot is shot with those statements. And Alec Ramsay, twenty-one by the end of this book, is almost weird in his affection for horses. At his age, he may not have grown out of it, but I can almost guarantee that he wouldn’t be as totally obsessed with it as he is.

Even though I liked this book, I don’t think it deserves too high a rating. Thus, I give it a 7.

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