by Dia Calhoun
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9The girl is hiding behind a large boulder across the river when Jonathon Brae first spots her. Her cap seems to have little horns, her hair is flaming red streaked with gold, and her eyes peer at Jonathon with the same blue sparkle that his have. Then, in an instant, she disappears. Jonathon is terrified. A Dalriada! What is a barbarian doing so far from the Red Mountains? Are they raiding the Valley? He runs home to his loving parents, brown-eyed like the rest of the Valley people, and steps into the middle of an argument. His mother wants his father to wait until Jonathon is 14 to take him to the Red Mountains to hunt; Brian thinks that 12 is old enough, but he leaves without the boy. When he returns, Karena is incensed at the gift he has brought for his son: a black colt with gold streaks in his mane and tail, Rhohar or king of the Dalriadas horse clans. The arrival of this animal changes everything in Jonathons life as he strives to understand what it is about the colt and the Red Mountains that calls to him, why dark ridges have appeared on his forehead, and if he is going crazy as the Valley folk claim. In an all-consuming search for identity, Jonathon sets forth to face any obstacle to become whole. In the tradition of Robin McKinleys The Blue Sword (Greenwillow, 1982) and Lloyd Alexanders Prydain Chronicles, Jonathons quest evokes a timeless struggle for identity amid vivid imagery, heartbreaking loss, and a subtle weave of fantasy.Melanie C. Duncan, Washington Memorial Library, Macon, GA
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