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The Year of the Horsetails

The Year of the Horsetails [Kindle Edition]

R. F. Tapsell , Christopher Posner , Daniel O'Leary
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Product Description


Originally published in 1967, 'The Year Of The Horsetails' is one of those 'lost treasures' of popular literature that has been ably recovered and once again made available to a whole new generation of appreciative readers. A thrilling action/adventure tale that is a deftly woven entertainment from first page to last, 'The Year Of The Horsetails' is very highly recommended reading --Midwest Book Review

Early Middle Ages, Eastern Europe. Nomadic hordes, the fierce Turgons under the rule of their charismatic leader, the Kagan, have conquered the steppes and control the vanquished with ruthless cruelty. Bardiya, a warrior from a subject tribe, flees for his life across the Carpathians to be taken captive by the Drevich, an agricultural people. But when the Turgon pursue him, the Drevich are threatened by this evil empire. Only Bardiya has the military skill and the knowledge of Turgon warfare to save these peaceful folk from extinction; but first he must win their trust. Written in 1967, this is a gloriously old-fashioned blood and thunder historical novel. Men are men, friends are loyal, traitors are devious, the enemy seems invincible and the women are for rescuing. Much of the novel is devoted to battle scenes, and these are superb. The movement of infantry and cavalry is always clear, the tactics interesting and the outcome kept in doubt so the reader is in suspense. The body count, it must be admitted, is appalling I estimate 500,000 die within the year of the title. Tapsell was an expert on Eastern Europe, and his knowledge and love of the landscape and the early peoples enrich the story. The hot sun on the endless grasslands, the swamps and forest villages, and the bitter winter are all lovingly depicted. If he was not very interested in psychological insights, the novel is none the worse for that. Bardiya is a shrewd, stalwart leader of men, a faithful lover and an appealing hero. The Kagan is a truly terrifying opponent in the style of Attila. Other characters are slotted in where needed. Tapsell wrote two other novels; it is to be hoped they too will be reprinted. This is a wonderful read. --Historical Novel Society

A sweeping war drama depicting the tribal warfare of ancient horse nations of the Carpathian region, R.F. Tapsell s The Year of the Horsetails (first published by Hutchinson & Co., 1967) is a gem for readers who are interested in military history, military strategy, and the daily life of the steppe warriors before Europe s borders were drawn on any map. The author seems to be an authority on the topics of weaponry, social structure, and clashing cultures of the long-ago era: massive research and enormous knowledge anchors the novel. The plot spans over an entire year in the life of the main character, Bardiya, a Saka warrior thrown by fate from one exotic culture to another. We meet him when he is a fugitive from the cruel and barbaric Tugar Kagan. Surviving the escape by his outstanding combat skills and pure luck, he lands in the foreign and somewhat disdained culture of the agriculturally inclined town-dwellers of the Drevich people. Soon Bardiya establishes his diplomatic connections and becomes the military leader of the Drevichi against the nomad experts of steppe warfare, unstoppable conquest, and unrelenting invasion: the Tugars. The title (The Year of the Horsetails) is very appropriate: the plot describes one tumultuous, adventure-filled year in Bardiya s life. The number of horsetails signify the rank of an officer in the nomad army, seven being the highest rank, that of the Kagan, ruler of the steppe. Tapsell s historical knowledge shines through every line of the novel, yet it proves to be a double-edged sword. There is a fairly sharp learning curve for the reader. The first half of the book is excruciatingly slow with seemingly unending narration written in archaic, very formal English, peppered with intimidating paragraphs that contain sentences with numerous foreign names, technical terms, and military references: Yarosh was rather surprised, until he was told that Bregnits was full of Drevich leaders and fugitives. Then he saw that there were other troops camped outside the town. Bardiya, Yarosh and Mrad rode into Bregnits with Dragesh s messengers. (p.59, para 3 and 4.) Even though the narrative is rich with detailed and accurate history, after 60 pages the value of it starts to fade, and both comprehension and attention suffer. Omniscient point of view attempts to balance the dryness of the narration, but the show, don t tell policy still seems to be missing. Nonetheless, I urge the reader to get over the first half of the book in order to experience an exceptional literary and historical feat. The classically structured plot presents gradually rising tension, which results in an action-filled page-turner by the time you reach the second half of the novel. Tapsell s book apparently has been published several times since 1967. I applaud this latest edition (published by CnPosner Books, 2013) for the sheer effort of bringing a well-loved, classic historical novel back into the limelight. For the modern reader, a glossary would be extremely beneficial, along with inside illustration to accompany Daniel O Leary s beautifully composed cover art. --Hedi Harrington: Harrington Review

Product Description

'I chanced upon a novel I read as a child. Re-reading The Year of the Horsetails by R. F. Tapsell (1967), I realized where my interest in nomadic warfare began and, with Bardiya - Tapsell s siege-engineer, outsider hero - something of the origins of Ballista. Tapsell was a superb historical novelist, and some enterprising publisher should put his works back in print for a new generation. Set in an unusual time and place, The Year of the Horsetails creates an exotic, fully imagined world combined with universal themes. Intensely exciting. An inspiration.' --Harry Sidebottom, author of the Warrior of Rome series

Eastern Europe: Early Middle Ages. The nomad warrior Bardiya
must flee from the evil empire of the Mongol-like Tugars and
their ruthless Kagan. He receives hospitality from the sedentary
Slavic Drevich people; but fears that they also might succumb to
the might of the Tugar empire. Will he be able to convince them
of their danger and teach them the skills necessary to defeat their
new enemy?
Now revised and corrected, with a new glossary of names and terms.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3758 KB
  • Print Length: 150 pages
  • Publisher: CNPosner Books; 3 edition (12 Nov 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #70,873 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Year of the Horsetails 10 July 2012
Introduction (From Wikipedia)

The Year of the Horsetails is a historical novel, written by R.F. Tapsell, that is set on the Eurasian Steppe, probably in the area that now known as Eastern Europe. The time frame of the book is not specified but is probably set between the birth of Attila the Hun 406 AD, and the rise of the Mongol ruler Genghis Khan, in 1162 AD. The story begins with the central character Bardiya, a Saka tribesman, escaping westward across the steppe on horseback from the brutal Tugar people. The fictional Tugars may have been modeled on the Eurasian Avars (580-804 AD), a Turkic people who were a nomadic confederacy also ruled by a Khagan (emperor). Bardiya had been a conscript soldier in the Tugar army as a light mounted cavalryman but sentenced to death for desertion. Bardiya encounters a sedentary and pastoral Slav people called the Drevich and he decides to stay and live with them, possibly influenced by a beautiful woman from the tribe.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A RIVERTING READ. 10 Sep 2013
By K. Hart
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I believe a review should be short, sharp and to the point. So, when is the next book due to be published? I will certainly put R F Tapsell on my list of authors to follow.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brillant Piece of Historical Fiction 31 May 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
A lost Masterpiece!
I remember reading my first stunning piece of Steppe nomad based historical fiction as if it were yesterday; RF Tapsell's The Year of the Horsetails , I must have borrowed it from the library and read it a dozen times when in my early teens. Eventually in the 1980's I found a much battered copy in a second hand book shop in Adelaide, though broken dog eared and missing a few pages it still sits in in library amongst my treasures of historical fiction. Though recently, due to its fragile condition I haven't dared to read it.
So why did it make such an impression and helped shape my love of historical fiction?
At a period in historical fiction writing ,when the best craftsmen/women were struggling to convince editors that Victorian style language and prose was definitely in the past and their readers were intelligent enough to understand complex plots and `real historical accuracy' was being presented not Hollywood fantasy RF Tapsell launched his deceptively simple take on the impact of the Steppe cultures on the sedentary societies of the early Dark Ages.
What was completely new in this style of story was his depth of historical research and its casual presentation in the tale of one man, Bardiya a refugee Saka noble fleeing the vengeful Tugars, lords of the wide Steppes. What's more the two opposing societies in this tale the Tugars and the Vedich are presented without the usual stupid bare chested fur clad grunting barbarian stereotypes. While the Tugars of the Steppe are similar to the Avars of history, they lack the usual evil slavering Mongol horde Scourge of God portrayal. They are what they are, the environment of the Steppe and the wars of the Kagan have molded them into superb warriors not mindless savages.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read 19 May 2013
By joany
Format:Kindle Edition
This was an easy book to read did not require a high amount of concentration and yet it managed to keep the interest to the end
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5.0 out of 5 stars A true boys adventure novel 6 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
RF Tapsell truly envelopes you in the world of the steppe, whilst keeping you turning the pages with a ripping adventure story.

Don't be put off by the age of this book, the dialogue and storyline can hold their own against any of todays top authors
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5.0 out of 5 stars riviting 31 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
read the paperback 6 times over the past 30 years. super. loaned it out a few
times.others said it was great.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Year of the Horsetails 28 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Captured the imagionation straight away. Seeing the struggle from the side of the people being attacked and how they responded
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4.0 out of 5 stars action packed story 17 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Good read which holds the reader through the twists and turns right to the last paragraph on the last page
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very Good
Published 1 month ago by MR G GRAVES
5.0 out of 5 stars The Year of the Horsetails
Superb historical drama, From the first page you were hooked with the plot and the only problem was in putting the book down. A great read. Highly recommended.
Published 1 month ago by alister bews 50
5.0 out of 5 stars super novel
this is a great read would recommend the book to everybody. Great Christmas present.for those wishing to get lost in their own space over the festive season.
Published 10 months ago by kathryn saunby
4.0 out of 5 stars solid piece of work well worth the read
The Year of the Horsetails is a traditional adventure story in the old-school style. It follows the flight of a fugitive across the Steppes of what much later became a part of... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Awesome Indies Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book to equal better known authors
This book is as good if not better than the more recent offerings from authors such as Bernard Cornwell. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Delmarinero
5.0 out of 5 stars The year of the horsetails
Very good story line throughout this book will read more of authors work .
Will look for more books from this author.
Published 11 months ago by Mr G A Byrne
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
Thoroughly enjoyable read. Fantastic battle scenes, good fast pace and interesting characters. Would really recommend this book for lovers of action novels such as Conn Iggulden`s... Read more
Published 11 months ago by wilelf
5.0 out of 5 stars Historical Fiction
Very well written and very good timing in the story line - Absorbing reading and read the book very fast :-)
Published 11 months ago by David Halahan
5.0 out of 5 stars The Year of the Horsetails.
I remember reading this story about 50 years ago. I was enthralled by it at that time and to read it again was great. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Colin Easton
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