Fern dreams of riding on a wild horse's back, as fleet as the wind. She makes pets of small animals and watches the bison herds as they pound over the endless grasses of the steppe. Chafing at the inequality of being female, she longs for the freedom her twin brother enjoys to run free in the wilderness. One day in early spring, Fern secretly rescues a young horse mired in the bog, names her Thunder, and tames her enough to ride. But the people of her tribe are distrustful of her bond with nature. Is she a witch? Fern's future looks bleak until a silent man in a rival tribe, known only as The Nameless One, teaches her about patience--and love.
Susan Williams's lyrical prose makes this journey to prehistoric western Asia at once inspiring and heart wrenching.
Gr 5-8-In prehistoric Western Asia, horses are seen as a source of food and nothing else. However, Fern, who has always had an affinity for animals, is about to change that perception. When she discovers a young mare caught in a bog, she figures out how to rescue and befriend her, and eventually how to ride her. Slowly, she convinces her tribe how invaluable horses could be as their companions and helpers rather than as mere prey. Fern gains the support of her grandmother, her teasing-but-loving twin brother, and her strong, warrior father. She and the horse become objects of fascination but also somewhat of fear in the tribe. In the meantime, a suitor, Badger, is determined to have her as his wife. He looks like a great catch but is actually a bully, further complicating her life. She finds love with an outcast from another tribe who has great healing powers and a kind heart. The story line and characters are fairly predictable. Only Fern seems multifaceted; Badger is mean, and grandmother is wise, but otherwise their characters are undeveloped. Still, a tale about the first taming of a horse may interest lovers of these animals, and Fern's human dilemmas along the way may keep them reading.-Carol Schene, formerly at Taunton Public Schools, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.