Lady of Horses
Book 2 of The Epona Sequence
by Judith Tarr
In the grandfathers’ time, when few yet living had been born, the People worshipped the horse, and served him, and took the gifts that he gave them: his meat, his hide, the milk of his mares. But he had not yet granted to men the greatest gift of all: the gift of riding on his back, and racing the wind.
Sparrow is a shaman’s daughter in a tribe that forbids women to be kings, to be shamans, to be anything but silent and tractable servants to the all-powerful men. They may not ever ride the horses that are the life and soul of the tribe, or even approach them, for fear of angering the gods.
But Sparrow knows another story, a story of the woman who first rode a horse, and her brother who took both the horse and the glory away from her. Sparrow sees visions and dreams dreams–and her brother the shaman takes them from her and presents them as his own.
Then the most sacred of all horses, the embodiment of Horse Goddess herself, claims Sparrow for her servant, and sends her on a journey that will change Sparrow and her people forever.
Once again, Tarr (The Shepherd Kings, 1999, etc.) heads back, back, back in time to hunt for the mystical source of the horse-spirit in humankind. It’s the morning of the world in prehistoric times; only within the past two lifetimes have the wild horse herds even been captured and tamed. A myth has arisen that the first horse, a Stallion, was ridden by a man. But in truth it was a mare, ridden by the grandmother of Sparrow, and only later was Sparrow’s uncle granted leave by the Great Goddess Epona (horse-spirit incarnate) to ride the first Stallion. Now Sparrow dares to ride a mare and later become a shaman with mystical marks on her body. She also comes into a mare’s erotic hunger, the satisfaction of which Tarr, herself a horse-breeder, describes with white fire…. Tarr’s sensibility and creation of an alternate feminine mythology would make Joseph Campbell dance a jig. —Kirkus Reviews
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