This book is a wonderful read which sweeps the reader along from exotic Ottoman Turkey through the plains and princes of continental Europe to the colour and chaos of seventeenth century London, the beauty of the unsullied English countryside and the wilds of Ireland.
It presents the history of the period as history should always be first presented, vibrant and full of the practicalities of everyday existence that really bring it alive. This is particularly true in the depictions of war which illustrate and carry the reader along through the exhilaration and the horror of battle, with brilliant descriptions of combat its aftermath and the preparations for it that are worlds away from a dry recitation of dates, battle fields and the peace treaties that follow.
The characters in this book are wonderful. The horse and his groom are unique and easily carry the weight of the story, Byerly too on his entrance is a figure to follow and admire. The horse though is the unashamedly the hero and the beauty and power of the story is arrived at from the fact that the horses full unbridled nature can only be realized through the symbiosis with his two true human friends, the groom and then Byerly who most of the world initially perceive to be the horses master but who come to realize that the power of the relationship is based on understanding, one in which the humans are accepted only as an equals and a friends.
The story then, is a history of a horse, a chronicle of a time from east to west, a brilliant exposition of war and most of all a wonderful and moving story based on characters who hold principles that have made the best stories great since story telling began.