A Quest of Swords and Wizards: The Crown Conspiracy

Day 17) Q is for Quest: Choose a book in which the characters go on a Quest

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So a quest? Which book to do? There are so, so many to choose from.

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I thought and thought and finally settled on:

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The Crown Conspiracy (The Riyria Revelations #1) by Michael J. Sullivan

I know I’ve talked about this before on here, but I wanted to bring it back as it was such a fantastic story.

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And I think more need to know about it.

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So four years ago I had just come back from class and after dropping off my bags and books I got on the computer to check my email. When I went on, I was notified by the school’s post office that I had received a package and needed to go pick it up as it was too big to put in my box.

ooh!

ooh!

I was surprised as I hadn’t ordered anything or was expecting anything from anyone, so I couldn’t wait to pick it up. When I got it, I didn’t recognize the sender’s label and had no clue who it was.

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When I got home I opened the package and saw Theft of Swords-Volume I of The Riyria Revelations containing The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha by Michael J. Sullivan.

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I was completely puzzled. Who was this who sent this to me? How did I get it?

suspicious Hmm

Then I realized, I must have won it on GoodreadsGoodreads does drawings in which you win a free book, and all you have to do is give an honest review and post it on the site. I used to enter in every drawing for every book and the books I had won prior to this all had not been very good.

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So when I received this book I wasn’t very thrilled to read it. In fact I put it off for a long time until my curiosity got the better of me. One day I decided to read a few pages and see what it was all about.

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Well one page turned into many as I just couldn’t put it down.

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After I consumed the novel I had to keep going, reading the second book and then trying to locate the rest. There weren’t any at the local or college library so I had to Inter Library Loan them and wait…

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Finally they came and I just devoured them, the rest of my life taking a back seat as I had to find out what happened next.

Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!

Or class. Or lunch. Or anything!

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Hadrian Blackwater and Royce Melbourn are two of the greatest thieves you could ever go against. Their duo goes by the name Riyria, that name being known throughout the land.

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At the beginning of the novel, the two are heading to work on a job when they are stopped by some thieves. All they have to do is say who they and they scare the others off like rabbits.

Run Away

They head off to try and rob Archie Ballentyne, the Earl of Chadwick, by breaking into his impenetrable tower.

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Meanwhile, Archie Ballentyne has been waiting for Marquis Victor Lanaklin. Archie has unsuccessfully been trying to woo his daughter, Alenda, as he is after the Lanaklin lands. He has managed to intercept some of her private love letters to the rebel Degan Gault, and wants to use them as leverage with the father. In order to keep them safe he has locked then in his study in the crown tower, a gigantic tower with only one entrance, the only one who can open it being Archie.

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But when he goes to show the letters, they are MISSING! They have been stolen, along with the Marquis’ carriage. Who could have done this? Riyria.

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They return back to their pub and deliver the goods to Alenda, receiving their payments.

Today life is great

Today life is great

But just as one job is finished, there appears there is another who wishes their services.

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Hadrian goes to meet with the man, Baron Delano DeWitt. He has a job that needs to be done tonight. Sadly, Baron DeWitt has committed the biggest mistake anyone in that region could, he looked upon the wife of the master swordsman, Colonel Pickering. Colonel Pickering will duel anyone who stares at his wife, and with his skill he is impossible to beat.

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His only weakness? His special rapier that he cannot fight without. Baron DeWitt has stolen the sword and hid it in the castle’s chapel and he wants Riyria to smuggle the sword out of the castle before they search and  find it.

suspicious Hmm

Now Riyria has a rule about accepting rush jobs, they don’t. But Hadrian isn’t really a thief, he has a warrior’s heart. He likes things to be fair or to fight for something “right”, justice, etc.

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He has felt a little disheartened at stealing things for royals, then notifying the party they stole from to get payment to steal it back. This is a job that will mean something. Plus the pay is really good.

Hmmm....

Hmmm….

Royce was raised on the streets and has been a thief as far back as he can remember. He has no qualms about what they do, and because of what he has been through he is also extremely suspicious. He does not want to take this job, but Hadrian convinces him it is worth it as they will get 200 gold tenets.

That's a lot of money

That’s a lot of money

That night they sneak into the castle and into its chapel. They go to search for the sword but find the king, dead.

Ahhh!

Ahhh!

As their minds grasp the situation, a dwarf starts screaming out that they killed the king. Guards swarm on them and they end up locked up in the dungeon.

Not good

Not good

Yes, someone murdered the king and framed them. But who? And why?

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Alric Essendon wakes from a tumble with a maid to discover he is the new King. He is furious over the death and prepares a horrible punishment as his revenge.

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Alric is a little lost at what to do, but his Uncle Percy Braga is there to lend a hand and assist him. Meanwhile, Hadrian and Royce await their fate in the dungeon; Hadrian wishing he hadn’t tried to take the job and Royce wishing he had talked Hadrian out of it. To their surprise they receive a royal visit from princess Arista Essendon.

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Arista questions them, so Hardrian tells her the story, claiming they did not kill her father. And to their surprise, she believes them.

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Arista is not like other women. Her father sent her to University and she studied the lost art of magic. She had been given a warning about the threat upon her father’s life but unfortunately didn’t heed it. Now she wants to hire the two to kidnap her brother.

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Hadrian and Royce are surprised, but Arista explains that she thinks someone is after the Essendon line and wants to kill her brother as well. She wants them to smuggle him out of the castle and go to Gutaria Prison, the secret ecclesiastical jail. They they will meet the wizard, Esrahaddon, who will be able to guide her brother. They think it is odd, but faced with death, they take the job.

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Arista has a complete plan in place. She will send two monks in to administer the last rites and have the two unchained to pray. They will knock the monks out, switch clothes and meet her in the kitchen where she will have Alric.

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Everything goes off without a hitch as they head off to the prison to find Esrahaddon, the wizard. As they continue their quest they run into a monk with a photographic memory that survived a massacre; a hidden prison that not only is built into a rock wall but once you enter cannot leave; the great wizard Esrahaddon who has been alive for eons; and secret church and government plot to answer the legend of the god Novron’s son and unite all the kingdoms under one rule!

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Meanwhile, Arista tries to rule in her brother’s place but finds treachery very close to home. They try to brand her a witch and kill her.

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Will this ragtag group be able save the throne? Or will they be outwitted and destroyed by these agents of Novron.

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The book was so fantastic, that I won’t reveal the ending. You must read this book and rest in the series yourself. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

May

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To start the 30 Day Challenge from the beginning, go to It Was a Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451

For the previous post, go to So You’re the Little Woman Who Wrote the Book that Made this Great War: Uncle Tom’s Cabin

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For more on The Riyria Revelations, go to Portrait of a Fangirl

For more magic and wizards, go to The Unknown Princess Nevermore

For more on Jane Smiley, go to Is This Really Just the Same?: Daring Chloe

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Speaking of magic, there is just a magic of Christmas that cannot be beat. It is just an amazing time of the year. That thought leads us to today’s Christmas Carol, Christmas Needs Love to be Christmas. It was written and recorded in 1993 for Andy Williams’ Christmas Album. It was released in 1994 and marked his first appearance on Billboard 200 album chart in 20 years. That’s magical.

I like this song because it reminds you what the heart of Christmas is, love.

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For more Andy Williams, go to When I Get Into a Novel

For more Christmas Carols, go to The Great Depths of the Ocean are Entirely Unknown to Us: Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

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A Horse’s Tale: Chinese New Year

So last year to celebrate the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Snake, I did 13 (because it was 2013) of my favorite snake moments from films, Snakes on a Post.  Last year I couldn’t post on the actual first day of the New Year because of my Romance is in the Air posts got in the way. This year, the Chinese New Year falls on the 31st of January, so I decided to do 14 of my favorite horse characters from films and books (which was a bit harder than expected). I created it in the same style of my Saint Patrick’s Day and 25 Films of Christmas posts, as it is harder to choose a “horsey moment” from a film than a “snake one”.

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Horses were born in the years 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, & 2014.

Horses are a bunch of contradictions. They are cool & hot-blooded, hard-nosed & humble, impatient & tolerant, but above all a hard worker and self-relient.  Horses work well in groups but prefer to work by themselves.

In social settings they are cheerful, charismatic, & overly talkative; but they are often the first to depart, usually because they feel too ‘”penned in”. They are happiest in large crowds and open spaces. In romance they have a need for intimacy & belonging. They often fill pressured in fulfilling family obligations, and remain at heart rebellious creatures.

They tend to do poorly with finances and budgets. Horses love to travel and are suited for careers as adventurers, poets, travel writers, or politicians.

Horses are compatible with Tigers, Dogs, & Sheep.

Famous people who were horses were Louisa May Alcott, Davy Crockett, James Dean, Clint Eastwood, Ella Fitzgerald, Harrison Ford, Aretha Franklin, Janet Jackson,Genghis Khan,  Paul McCarthy,  Teddy Roosevelt, & Mike Tyson.

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So here we go:

Had to add it in!

Had to add it in!

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14) Chester

Chester is a wild mustang that is trying to find a family. He tries to go off with the cowboys that are capturing wild horses, but they won’t take him because he seems too tame. He then goes into the city to try and find a place of belonging; going on the carousal, pretending to be a statue, etc.

Best Horse Ever: Chester

I LOVED this book as a child, that is the real reason why its on this list. I used to read it ALL the time. Chester is an adorable horse who just wants to belong. As a kid you are heartbroken at all the rejection he faces, but even though that happens Chester is never cynical at life, but just keeps trying to find his place and belonging in life. I always wanted Chester as my own, to a five-year old he just seemed like the greatest horse ever.

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13) The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring tells the story of a young hobbit, Frodo, who is given the task of making a treacherous journey across Middle-Earth to Mount Doom, to destroy the Ring of Power. He is joined by: three other hobbits, Sam, Merry, and Pippin; Aragorn, a man and the next ruler of Gondor; Gandalf the Grey, a Wizard; Gimli, the dwarf; Legolas the elf; and Boromir, a man and son of the Ruling Steward of the realm of Gondor; creating a “Fellowship of the Ring”.

Best Horse Ever: Bill the Pony

Bill is bought at the Prancing Pony, to replace the horses stolen from the group. Bill, is Sam’s pony, who Sam loves and tenderly cares for as he does everything. Bill travels with the group to Moria, but has to be left behind as he couldn’t go through the mine with the others. Bill is attacked and thought dead, but returns to Bree. He finds Sam again and is there for him forever, always a noble and trusty steed.

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Altivo

12) The Road to El Dorado

Two conmen, Miguel and Tulio, accidentally sneak aboard Cortez’s ship heading for the Americas. They try to escape without notice and find themselves in a boat with Cortez’s horse Altivo. When they arrive in South America, they use a map they won in a poker game to find El Dorado, the City of Gold. The three discover it and are mistaken as gods. They then have to fight the evil high priest and protect the city and people from being overtaken by the Cortez’s conquistadors.

Best Horse Ever: Altivo

Altivo is an extremely intelligent horse. When the two guys are trapped on the ship, they try to get Altivo to find them something to break open the bars in exchange for an apple, but he does better than that, he fetches them the keys. And Altivo always steps in to help the guys when they need him.

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11) The Two Towers The Return of the King

The Two Towers– The fellowship has been split up. Frodo and Sam have seperated from the group and are lead by Gollum, one who has been corrupted by the evil of the ring and determined to get it back. Pippin and Merry have been captured by Orcs, managing to escape from them and flee into the Fangorn Forest. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli are on the trail of the captured Hobbits when they meet up with an old friend and set out to help Rohan win against the evil of Sauron.

The Return of the King–The last book of the series. The Shadow of Mordor and Sauron’s power grows across the land, and the companions of the Ring are still involved in separate adventures, but the battle draws them all together in Gondor. Pippin and Gandalf are in the capital, Minas Tirith, to prepare the kingdom. The call of help has been sent out, and the neighboring kingdoms send aid. Aragorn, who has been revealed as the heir of Gondor, has been helping Rohan in their fight. He, Legolas, and Gimli seperate from them and head into the mountains to recruit the Army of the Dead. Merry has joined the Rohan army and prepares to enter battle. Frodo and Sam face the challenge of navigating Mordor to complete the quest of destroying the ring.

Best Horse Ever: Shadowfax

Shadowfax plays a substantial role in both The Two Towers and The Return of the King. He is a  Mearasa horse of high intelligence, strength, and has a long lifespan. He is a beautiful, silver, stallion and can understand the speech of men. He is brave, smart, and can run faster than any other horse in Middle-Earth. Like any true wild animal, he is not easily broken. Shadowfax allows no one but  Gandalf to ride him. The two share such a strong bond that Shadowfax follows Gandalf to the West so that the two will never have to be parted.

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10) Toy Story 2

Having survived the new toy Buzz Lightyear and the move across town, all the toys are settling in nicely as a family. However, things take a turn for the worst when an injured Woody gets left at home instead of being taken to cowboy camp, and then accidentaly placed in a yard sale and stolen. Al, the thief, is trying to complete Woody’s Roundup to sale to a collecter in Japan. At Al’s home, Woody meets the other members of the gang; Jesse, a cowgirl; Stinky Pete, the prospector; and Bullseye, Woody’s trusty steed. Buzz and the rest of the gang come to save him, but when they get there Woody is not so sure he wants to return home.

Best Horse Ever: Bullseye

Bullseye is so adorable, he is like a giant puppy. Bullseye is always trying to help out the other members of the gang; like trying to get Woody his arm, helping play the record, etc. He is disheartened at the thought of Woody going back to Andy, as he is so sad to lose him. Later, he helps both Woody and Buzz try and save Jesse from being taken to Japan, riding “like the wind” to reach the airplane that was carrying her off in time. Always loyal and one you can count on. 🙂

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Khan–Mulan

9) Mulan

When the Huns invade China and every family is requested to send men to the front, Mulan makes a decision that puts her whole life at peril. She decides to dress up as a man and take her father’s place, pretending to be his son. She is aided by Mushu, a dragon pretending to have powers; Cricket, supposdly lucky, and Khan, her trusted horse. Mulan discovers that there is more to being in the army and a man in this zany animation.

Best Horse Ever: Khan

Khan is an amazing horse. He charges off with Mulan for battle, never complaining about entering the fray. He not only carries Mulan on his back but also the supplies of the Chinese army. He cares strongly for Mulan, going for her when there is an avalanche, to giving up his blanket and using his body to keeping her warm. Everyone hopes their pet loves them 1/10th of the love that Khan gives out.

Horse & horseshoesachilles Hunchback of Notre Dame

8) Achilles Hunchback of Notre Dame

Quasimodo lives in the Notre Dame bell tower. The only one who knows of his existence is the evil and cruel Judge Frollo. He escapes one day to go to the Festival of Fools meeting Esmerelda a beautiful gypsy. He is discovered and thrown in the stocks. Esmerelda defys Frollo and frees him, assisted by Captain Phoebus. Esmerelda hides away in Notre Dame to save herself from Frollo’s wrath, and becomes better friends with Quasimodo and Phoebus. Quasimodo must make a choice on whether to help his friends or betray the only father figure he has ever known. In the end, Frollo wages a war on the gypsys, Esmerelda, and Notre Dame. Quasimodo and Captain Phoebus lead a battle against him, and free all from his horrible grasp.

Best Horse Ever: Achilles

Achilles is Captain Phoebus’ horse and one amazing animal. He is always there for his master, helping at all times; mostly through his having learned the command to “heel”. When ever Phoebus says Achilles heel (a pun on the mythological hero), Achilles sits on the enemy; saving Esmerelda and others. He is so cute and adorable.

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Tangled-Maximus

7) Tangled

Tangled is a retelling of RapunzelIn the story, Rapunzel has been locked away by a witch, Mother Gothel, because her hair contains healing properties. A thief, Flynn Rider, has just stolen the King’s crown and is being chased by the palace guards, when he stops at Rapunzel’s tower to lose them. Overpowered by Rapunzel and her trusty cast iron frying pan, the two strike a deal in which Flynn will take Rapunzel to the kingdom to see the “floating lights” and in exchange Rapunzel will return the crown to him. Along the way they are aided by other bandits and the head guard’s  horse, Maximus; while being chased by the castle guards, Flynn’s ex-partners-in-crime, and Mother Gothel.

Best Horse Ever: Maximus

While Maximus is on the “bad” side, as we are all rooting for Flynn, he soon joins our heros in their quest. He is the only “officer” who is able to follow the duo and strikes a deal that he will not arrest Flynn until after he has granted Rapunzel’s quest. (Rapunzel should go into sales, she is a real wheeler-dealer.) Maximus becomes friends with Rapunzel and her chameleon Pascal, joining in on all the events that Rapunzel wants to partake in. He even grows to like Flynn, rescuing him after he is arrested and sentenced to death. The pair then ride off to save Rapunzel from the evil Mother Gothel. So even though Maximus wants to uphold the law and do what is right, even he understands when one is in a gray area and has to throw out the rule book.

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6) Sleeping Beauty

Aurora was given the gifts of beauty and grace from her fairy godmothers, but was also cursed with death. While her third godmother couldn’t reverse the spell she changed it so that when she is sixteen and pricks her finger she will not die, only fall asleep, and will wake with true love’s first kiss. All the sewing spindles are burned and Aurora is hidden away in the forest until her sixteen birthday has ended. However, even with such precautions, Aurora still falls prey to her curse. Prince Phillip, her true love, has been locked away by the evil Witch, Maleficent. The fairy’s free him and he has to battle thorn bushes and a dragon to save her.

Best Horse Ever: Samson

First let me say Aurora was always my favorite princess and Prince Phillip my fav prince (more on him later). I LOVE this film! ( I LOVE him!) Sorry, had to get that out of my system, anyways,  Samson is Prince Phillip’s horse. We are first introduced to him when Phillip hears Aurora singing in the forest. Now Samson is pretty smart, and doesn’t want to follow the voice for fear that it belongs to an evil fairy, wood nymph, siren, or other magical creature that could enchant and hurt his master. However, like any guy, Samson is easily persuaded when he is offered an extra amount of food. Samson is a great horse that cares for Phillip, helping him escape Maleficent’s lair, riding through the thorn bushes (major ouch), and fighting Maleficent in her dragon form.

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5) Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

Spirit is a mustang and the leader of his herd. The story follows his capture by the U.S. Army, escape and time with the Lakota people, recapture by the U.S. army (this time having to help construct the railroad), and his return to the herd.

Best Horse Ever: Spirit

First let me say I HATE Matt Damon. I HATE his acting with a passion. I don’t really know why, but he just annoys me to a great extent. I can only stomach a few movies with him; The Brother’s Grimm (I didn’t recognize him the first time with the wig he wears), Ocean’s Eleven (he acts like a stupid kid who doesn’t know anything and that works for me), and The Departed (because he’s a rat and Mark Wahlberg shoots him). Now you may be asking yourself, what does Matt Damon have to do with Spirit? Well, this is the fourth Matt Damon movie that I like, mostly because for the longest time I didn’t realize that Matt Damon played Spirit. Spirit is a great horse, as he never allows himself to be broken by anyone, but prizes his freedom above all else. He suffers through adversity, pain, etc; but continues to push through until he makes it out and into freedom. He falls for another horse, Rain, and when she is injured he stays by her side, until he is captured and forced to return to the U.S. calvary camp. Later, when they are both freed again, Spirit takes Rain off to join his herd.

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Topthorn War HOrse

4) Topthorn War Horse

War Horse tells the story of young Joey being bought by a poor farmer and raised by his son. To cover costs the father sells the horse to the British Army. There Joey becomes friends with a fellow officer’s horse. The two’s owners are killed and they are taken into the German army, saved by some officers, found by French countrymen, retaken by the German army, and used to move machinary. Joey survives, but Topthorn doesn’t make it.

Best Horse Ever: Topthorn

Topthorn is not only a beautiful horse but a loyal one. At first he dislikes Joey, but the two quickly become best friends. When Joey is taken and to be separated from him, Topthorn goes after him to make sure he is okay. Topthorn never lets anything happen  to his pal Joey, put always puts himself first to save him from any pain.

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3) Black Beauty Black Beauty

This is a great book that has had many films versions made of it.

Black Beauty tales the story of a beautiful black horse and his adventures in life. He starts off with a good master, and gets sold and passed around, sometimes treated well and other times mistreated by his owners. The reason that Anna Sewell wrote the novel was to bring awareness of the mistreatement that animals, espechially horses were facing in Victorian England; abuse, whippings, bearing rein (a strap used to keep horses’ heads high, fashionable in Victorian England but painful and damaging to a horse’s neck), and the use of blinkers on horses.

Best Horse Ever: Black Beauty

Black Beauty is always kind and helpful to his masters, even when the owners are harmful and abusing him. Beauty saves John Manly, his caretaker, in the beginning of the novel. Later, when he is caught in a barn fire, he won’t leave until his friend Ginger is taken care of. He’s just a beautiful and caring animal.

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2) Animal Farm

Orwell’s dystopian “fairy tale” is an allegory for Communist Russia. In the story, Old Major (Lenin), a pig, convinces the other the animals that they need to get rid of their parasitical human rulers.   The animals do so, lead by Snowball and Napoleon. They decide that they will rule their farm fairly and justly, with all being equal. All seems good, until Snowball is driven out and Napoleon (Stalin) institutes himself as ruler of the farm, backed by his canine army (KGB). Under Napoleon’s rule, equality no longer exists as the pigs are elevated to higher positions and not made to work as hard as the others. The farm and the original ideals of Old Major soon begin to die off and become problematic to all.

Best Horse Ever: Boxer (spoiler alert: Do not read the next paragraph if you wish to read the book and do not want any part of the plot given away)

Boxer’s story is so, so sad. I loved him but was heartbroken when he died. 😥 Now Boxer might not be the smartest, but he has the most caring heart of all. Boxer, symbolizes the working class of Russia that gets shafted with Communism, caring and trying to do the best for his farm and fellow mammals. He always tries to work harder and carry his extensive load and others. He often goes without food, giving his share to the others, as he is a strong horse and can go without. The pigs see him as a threat as his strength and popularity could really cause a revolution, that is if Boxer contained any guile at all. The saddest thing ever is that he works so hard for the farm and others, and instead of being rewarded with a pasture to live out the rest of his life, they send him to the knackers to be turned into glue. 😥 OMG that part made me bawl like a baby.

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1) Joey War Horse (2011)

War Horse tells the story of young Joey being bought by a poor farmer and raised by his son. To cover costs the father sells the horse to the British Army. There Joey becomes friends with a fellow officer’s horse. The two’s owners are killed and they are taken into the German army, saved by some officers, found by French countrymen, retaken by the German army, and used to move machinary. In the end Joey is reunited with his master.

Best Horse Ever: Joey

Albert’s father buys Joey to get back at his landlord, but finds himself at a loss of what to do as Joey is not a farm horse. Albert takes Joey out and trains him, first caring and getting him to trust him; along with teaching him to answer his whistle. The two form a strong bond, and while no one believes they can do it; Albert still encourages Joey and his support causes Joey to plow through that field. HOwever, due to an unexpected storm the family loses their crops and have to sell the horse. There Joey takes care of his new master, until he is captured by the German army. By this time Joey and Topthorn have become friends, and while Topthorn will do anything for Joey; Joey will do anything for Topthorn. One of the best/saddest scenes is when the two are captured by the German army a second time and forced to cart machinery (similar to Spirit and his railroad building); a process that severely damages and kills the horses; Joey steps in for Topthorn. At this time, Topthorn had been severely injured and wouldn’t last long, but Joey steps in to save him. Although the evil commanding officer kills Topthorn anyway, jerk! Later, after Joey has been saved and reunited with Albert, he is put up for auction (as is the rule) and bought by someone else. But Joey doesn’t want to leave. He wants to be with Albert, because he really loves and cares for him. He is freed and sets off with Albert, proving that some bonds can never be broken.

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I hope this year is an amazing one! 🙂